There’s more to martial arts than simply learning how to execute fighting techniques or excelling at competitions. Martial arts are a way of life that teaches values like discipline, perseverance, and sportsmanship.
Martial art competitions aren’t just about proving you are the best. It is about winning with honor, losing with class, and having compassion for your opponent, who is a martial artist just like you.
Seven Inspiring Examples Of Sportsmanship In Martial Arts
Let’s jump right into our list of outstanding examples of sportsmanship in combat sports:
1) Jon Jones Vs. Anthony Smith
Smith quickly established himself as a top contender when he signed up with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, finishing big-name opponents like Hector Lombard, Mauricio Rua, and Volkan Oezdemir. That earned him a title shot against light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Things didn’t go well for Smith when he shared the cage with Jones. He found himself getting outclassed from the opening bell, and he was never able to mount much offense during the fight.
However, an illegal knee by Jones in the fourth round put Smith in a position to steal the fight. All he had to do was pretend he couldn’t continue to fight, and Jones would have been disqualified, making Smith the new light-heavyweight champion.
Fortunately for Jones, Smith declined the easy way out and decided to continue the fight even though he was down on the scorecards. It’s one of the most honorable moments in the history of mixed martial arts since Smith taking the knee would have given him access to all the prizes and perks of being a champion. Smith clarified his decision after the fight. For him, winning while knowing Jon Jones had gotten the best of him wouldn’t have been good enough.
2) Lyoto Machida Vs. Mark Munoz
Machida and Munoz were training partners when their fight was scheduled, so they were reluctant to fight each other. Both men actually trained together a couple of days before their 2013 showdown. Machida was selected as a late replacement to face Munoz when his original opponent pulled out of the match.
The fight got off to a slow start, with both men hesitating to engage their opponent. Just as the crowd was getting ready to start booing both fighters, Machida connected with a roundhouse that stiffened Munoz and sent him to the canvas.
The referee was slow getting between both men, and Machida could have followed up with some ground-and-pound. However, he realized Munoz was out and backed off, bowed to Munoz, then knelt beside him and held his hand. To make things even better, both men had dinner together that night.
3) Mike Pantangco Vs. Jeremy Raser
Raser took his fight against Pantangco on four hours’ notice as a late replacement, and he was game from the opening moment. However, Pantangco seemed to be a step ahead of him for most of the bout, and he started landing clean, hard shots as the fight went on.
Raser was rocked badly a few times, but he kept moving forward and pushing the pace. Pantangco eventually realized Raser was too tough for his own good, and the referee didn’t seem to be considering stopping the fight. Pantangco went down on a knee and tapped on the canvas, saving Raser from taking further punishment.
4) Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone Vs. Yancy Medeiros
The respect these two showed one another before, during, and after their 2018 scrap embodies the spirit of mixed martial arts. During the weigh-ins, Medeiros handed Cerrone a Hawaiian cowboy hat that was well received. During the fight, Medeiros lost his balance as he threw a combo at Cerrone and ended up on his back.
“Cowboy” could have immediately pounced on him on the ground, but he realized Medeiros slipped and backed away, allowing Medeiros to get back to his feet. The two went on to have one of the most entertaining rounds in MMA, with both men having their moments. Cerrone eventually scored a TKO late in the round to bring the contest to an end.
After the fight, Medeiros went outside the cage and hugged Cerrone’s grandmother while she gave him a kiss.
5) Bakhtiyar Arzumanov Vs. Yuri Gamali
Arzumaov went far beyond anything expected from him as a fighter to make sure his opponent Gamali was okay after their M-1 showdown. The fight didn’t last long as Argumanov secured a triangle choke in the first round, leaving Gamali unconscious.
Arzumanov didn’t push Gamali to the side and jump up in celebration like many fighters would after an impressive first-round stoppage. Instead, he rolled Gamali on his back, took out his mouthpiece, and held his head so he could breathe as he regained consciousness. He then helped Gamali to his feet, hugged him, and handed his mouthpiece to his trainer.
6) Adriano Moraes Vs. Geje Eustaquio
Moraes and Eustaquio have a lot of history with each other. The first time they squared off, Moraes defeated Eustaquio via submission to win the vacant ONE Championship Flyweight title. Eustaquio got some payback the second time they fourth, winning a split decision.
Moraes emerged victorious when the two collided for a third time, reclaiming the ONE Championship Flyweight title. After being declared the winner, Moraes called Eustaquio over, and the two wrapped the belt around the waist of ONE Championship founder Chatri Sityodtong as a show of respect. The two then knelt together inside the cage to exchange pleasantries.
7) Arkadiusz Wroblewski Vs. Paata Tschapelia
These two lightweights gave us a memorable moment of sportsmanship during their 2016 clash. Wroblewski dislocated his left shoulder while throwing a punch, and Paata immediately noticed the injury and backed away before the referee noticed it.
As officials struggled to figure out how to address the injury, Paata walked over to Wroblewski and helped him pop his shoulder back in place. Wroblewski thanked him for the act by touching gloves, and the fight was restarted. Tschapelia went on to knockout Wroblewski later in the round.
8) Nick Diaz Vs. Frank Shamrock
There was a lot of bad blood heading into the showdown featuring Nick Diaz and Frank Shamrock. Diaz didn’t seem to have much respect for the MMA Hall-of-Famer’s accomplishments inside the cage and hurled many insults his way.
Diaz did a 180 once the fight was over. He helped Shamrock back to his feet and even had words of encouragement for him.
“Get up; you’re the f***ing legend,” Diaz said. “I’m sorry for all that sh*t I talked; you’ve got to forgive me.”
9) Sam-A Gaiyanghadao Vs. Josh Tonna
Tonna found himself in over his head when he challenged Sam-A for the ONE Muay Thai Strawweight Championship at ONE Championship: Reign of Dynasties. Sam-A established himself as the better fighter early in the contest, knocking Tonna down twice before putting him away with a cross in the second round.
Tonna looked dejected as he sat with his back against the cage, and Sam-A rushed towards him to give him some words of encouragement and a hug. The expression on Sam-A’s face showed it was a bittersweet moment as he was happy to successfully defend his belt while being saddened by the fact that he had to crush another fighter’s dreams to do so.
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