They call MMA, boxing and kickboxing the fight game(s).
But sometimes, they call them the “hurt game(s),” too.
They’re combative — unlike any other sport. As one MMA fighter famously put it, “you’re looking across the ring or cage at somebody, and if you don’t hurt them, they’re going to hurt you first.”
But they’re still sports. And sometimes, enough is enough. And maybe sometimes, the winner isn’t the guy getting his hand raised.
Take the case of Mike Pantangco.
Pantangco fought a bout at flyweight for an amateur MMA promotion in Michigan back in March. The bout, as recalled by Inside MMA hosts Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten of Inside MMA last week, featured a unique ending.
If you haven’t seen this clip yet, check it out:
That’s Pantangco dominating the early going with an aggressive Muay Thai arsenal, and his opponent, Jeremy Rasner, mostly looking defenseless. A few minutes into their bout, Pantangco would eventually fear for his opponent’s safety – so he stopped fighting, knelt to the mat, and tapped in submission.
Fans have responded on the Inside MMA Facebook page with a mix of praise, condemnation, and confusion.
Pantangco would offer some insight for this unusual turn of events, describing the bout as “an ammy (amateur) bout” where no pay was at stake, and describing Rasner a “friend” who stepped up on short notice.
I am sorry for all you guys (who) think I did him wrong or disrespect him … But guys, we’re ammy fighters. We don’t get paid… and if I would keep going I would’ve hurt him more, and maybe get in serious injuries, and maybe that makes him stop doing what he loves to do … (or) maybe he becomes one of the best fighters alive. Who knows? Just think about it guys … I don’t care if my ammy record has one loss. Big deal? I know what i did, and enough is enough.”
Enough, is enough.
Maybe some of you know the story of a world featherweight boxing champion named Barry McGuigan, of Clones, Ireland.
One of his early bouts took a turn for the tragic, as opponent Young Ali fell into a coma and eventually died as a result of injuries sustained in a 1982 bout with McGuigan.
McGuigan elected to continue his career, which would draw together audiences from across Northern Ireland’s sectarian lines and earn acclaim worldwide. But, he was haunted by the tragedy.
He would later collaborate with director Jim Sheridan on a fictional movie about a boxer from Northern Ireland.
The film featured a scene which found its protagonist in a one-sided bout: his opponent defenseless, and appearing to be in danger of injury or even death. But, the referee hadn’t called a halt to the action.
In the movie, McGuigan and the film’s crew got to tell a different ending to his own story. The protagonist was scripted to do what McGuigan didn’t – he stopped fighting when he felt, as Pantangco did here, that enough was enough.
The opponent was spared, and the movie continued.
Anyway, back to reality.
Pantangco knew it was just an amateur bout. But then, he also probably knew he would never get that second chance that McGuigan got to tell the story again, if things went horribly wrong.
That’s why, despite the official record, he’s a winner. Because sometimes, there’s something more important than the win.