Before the main event of last weekends UFC, there was a co main event welterweight title eliminator between TUF alum Josh Koscheck and English slugger Paul Daley. Starting with a well documented pre fight war of words the two displayed a spirited dislike for one another. But from the pre fight presser to the weigh ins for the event it was apparent that the online sniping and chastising was masking real and palpable loathing for one another.
Then came the actual fight, which ended up looking like your average striker vs grappler bout with the grappler maintaining dominant position for the entirety of the bout. As far as fights between two top 10 opponents vying for a title shot goes this was still a pretty unremarkable fight all around. It also was the second fight in a row in which an illegal strike (knee to a crouching opponent) grazed the pompadour of Josh Koscheck, who still reacted as if he took the blow flush to the temple and was allowed to recover despite multiple angles of slo-mo replay saying otherwise. But that and the entire fight paled in comparison to the following 10 seconds after the final bell of the bout.
After getting up Paul Daley followed Koscheck to give what most would think was going to be some sort of post fight embrace of good sportsmanship, but what was transpired was thecomplete opposite. Daley struck Koscheck with a cheap shot left hook that was blocked and was immediately separated by the referee Dan Mirgliotta and so began the what now seems to be the end of his career in the UFC
From MMA Junkie,
“He’s done,” White said after the event. “I don’t give a [expletive] if he’s the best 170-pounder in the world. He’ll never come back here again.
“There’s no excuse for that. These guys are professional athletes. You don’t ever hit a guy blatantly after the bell like that, whether you’re frustrated or not. It was probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen because he is a talented guy, and he is one of the best 170-pounders in the world.”
Given a day to rethink his actions and stew in the resentment of his own designs, Daley did the right thing and issued an apology. Here it is in its entirety,
“I’ve had a long flight home to consider my actions and regret the mistake I made on Saturday. I would like to apologise to the UFC and the Athletic Commission for what I’ve done as well as all the fans and sponsors that support me.”
“I would also like to offer my sincerest apologies to Josh Koscheck who did not deserve the cheap shot I threw. He did what he needed to do in order to win the fight and get the job done, and I foolishly reacted to the situation. There is no excuse for my actions and I know what I did was very unprofessional. I was immensely frustrated by a collection of things that took place throughout the fight as well as leading up to it, but I’m certainly not trying to condone or excuse my actions.”
“Josh implemented his game plan perfectly taking me down and staying on top of me for the majority of the fight. I was also frustrated about him claiming (and acting like) I knee’d him in the head on the ground when it was clear for all to see in the video replay that I didn’t connect at all with the knee I threw. Then finally, the verbal abuse Josh hit me with in the final 30 seconds of the fight simply pushed me over the edge and my frustrations came out as I knew I’d lost the fight, was unhappy with my own performance and had then been ridiculed by my opponent to top things off.”
“This is certainly no excuse for my actions; I fully deserve to be punished for what I did and hope that everyone I have disappointed can forgive my rash decision. I feel very disappointed in myself for losing my cool and hope that I am able to address my temperament and bounce back from this low point in my career.”
“I feel ashamed and embarrassed by what I did and hope that together my team and I can get through this issue. It will be a long road back from where I am now to earning the trust and respect of the UFC and the MMA fans that have supported me for so long, I know I’ve let you all down but I’m determined to make it up to you all.”
Now comes the waiting game for any following developments to what seems will be an ongoing process of arbitration and or adjudication for what really happened. Koscheck has admitted to using abusive language which Daley alluded to being the reason why he lashed out. Both the in cage smack talk and post fight blow fall under fouls as stated by the UFC’s rules
24. Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area.
27. Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat.
As cliche as it is two errors of judgment do not inexplicably justify themselves nor do they cancel each other out. What should hopefully transpire is a full review of the incident with suspensions and fines handed to the guilty parties. But a instant life time ban just seems way to reactionary and knee jerk for a major sports organization.
Infinitely more heinous acts have transpired in other major sports leagues from the rampant PED and steroid use in the MLB. NBA stars having altercations involving firearms being drawn. Or the NFL and their having to deal with their stars being accused of sexual assault along with other players convicted of
Compared to those incidents a blocked cheap shot may seem negligible, but it should be dealt with in the same manner as any other major sports orgs, by first letting the guilty parties be subjected to the law of the land. After that’s been dealt with then fine, suspended or combine the punishment and when that is done let the athlete redeem themselves and compete.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail in the end in regards to Daleys outburst. People make mistakes but I personally believe if own up to your error make an effort to change and do better, you should be given a second chance.