There is this video floating around the internet of a Flyweight Amateur MMA fight from the Prison City Fight League in Detroit, Michigan:
In the video, Mike Pantangco, wearing the white shorts, dominates his opponent from the opening bell. Raining down punches, kicks, and knees to his opponent’s head, it looks like a sure-fire victory for the amateur MMA fighter over an obviously over-matched opponent.
Until, out of nowhere, after a nice back-fist to cross combination, Pantangco backs away from his visibly shaken opponent and taps—giving a victory by retirement to his opponent, Jeremy Raser, and thoroughly confusing everybody at the fight. (Look at the ref and the people in the ring. They have no idea what is going on.)
After tapping, Pantangco shakes his opponent’s hand, bows, and then holds up his opponent’s arm and does a victory lap. His confused opponent, probably still shaken up by the bludgeoning he just experienced, can barely react. Eventually, Raser points to Pantangco in a futile effort to acknowledge who the real winner was.
This video has been blowing up social media, and Pantangco has generally been praised for his sportsmanship and mercy. Immediately after the fight, when asked why he did what he did, he responded:
“I just feel that there’s no point fighting him because he didn’t train against me and I didn’t train for him and I feel like we’re amateur fighters. We don’t get money. We don’t get paid. And I know that the only thing I’m going to finish the fight is him to go in the hospital or get hurt. I just feel terrible so I’m just going to give him the win.”
Basically, his opponent was so outclassed that it wasn’t worth Pantangco’s time to finish the fight properly. In Pantangco’s mind, saving Raser a trip to the hospital was the most merciful and sportsmanlike thing he could do.
I’m calling bullshit.
Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that has rules, dangers, and regulations. There are referees and doctors at the fight to prevent serious injury to the fighters. Why is it Pantangco’s job to decide when a fight should be stopped?
Also, if your opponent is so bad, why not finish him with a simple submission? I don’t know Pantangco’s martial arts background, but I know that in MMA it is imperative to work on your ground game. Pantangco, you really couldn’t just choke out your opponent with a simple Rear Naked Choke? He was barely standing up—you could have even done it without going to the ground.
But that isn’t even my biggest concern. What concerns me is the attitude of the crowd and everybody calling Pantangco’s act of surrendering an act of “sportsmanship.” In my mind, this could not be further from the truth.
I grew up in Argentina, with a very old-school sense of sportsmanship—taught on the soccer pitch. I was taught to always treat your opponents with respect by going 100% no matter what. If you were winning 10-0 at the half, you owed it to your opponents to score another 10 goals in the second half. Any less would be viewed as condescension.
I remember back in 2009 when the New England Patriots were getting grief over their “unsportsmanlike” mauling of the Tennessee Titans 59-0. I thought to myself, “Why is that unsportsmanlike? Is it more sportsmanlike to put in your 4th string? Or to run out the clock and not let your opponents play?”
I think that it is condescending to run out the clock. And to put in a half-assed effort. If you put in a half-assed effort in a team sport, you would get chewed out by your teammates for not pulling your weight. Your attitude would be disrespectful to them.
In individual sports—like MMA, boxing, swimming, tennis, golf, etc. — you need to show a similar respect to your opponents, because they are the only other people with you during competition. If both competitors respect each other and give their best, it pushes them to their limits and makes them better. Iron sharpening iron.
I don’t know why Pantangco did what he did. But I don’t subscribe to the idea that he surrendered in the best interest of his opponent.
Physical injury is a risk of any sport—especially combat sports like MMA—so Pantangco picked an unusual sport to play caregiver.
I think Pantangco planned this stunt before the fight. It makes no sense for a fighter with a 5-0 record to surrender an easy win. But it does make sense for a no-name fighter to try and gain name recognition. Clearly this guy can fight, and he is probably looking for a way to boost his profile so he can take his fighting career to the next level.
Well, if that was your intention, Mr. Pantangco, you accomplished what you set out to accomplsh. You are the talk of the MMA world at the moment, and I think all this media attention will eventually get you exactly what you want—a chance at a professional fight.
I think you acted like a dick when you raised your opponent’s arm and paraded him around the octagon like your trophy. You act like you took the high-road by gifting him a victory, rather than respecting him by ending the fight. I could not disagree more.
What do you think? Is Pantangco a visionary in sportsmanship for MMA? Is he a cocky douchebag who disrespects the sport? Or is he a marketing genius—who got the world talking about him for free?