Shortly after the three minute mark of the fourth round and in front of 20,000 screaming fans, Conor McGregor did what most MMA fighters hope they never have to do – he tapped out.
What followed can only be described as a circus. A melting pot of emotion, adrenaline and hatred spilling into a sacred area typically reserved for modern day warriors - men and women who have sweat, bled and cried in the pursuit of short lived glory, often sacrificing friends, family and at times their health along the way.
Following the fight, prominent combat sport commentator Michael Schiavello wrote this:
“If you promote a thug culture and not a culture of martial arts Bushido spirit, this is what happens. You reap what you sew. This is the culture you created”
The code of Bushido was an unwritten code of the Samurai. A way of life for some of the most feared martial artists and warriors the world had ever seen. A code many martial artists, whether realising it or not, live by to this day:
Rectitude, courage, benevolence, politeness, sincerity, honour, loyalty and self-control.
And Schiavello was right. In that moment, the code of Bushido was not on display. Instead, it could be found some 13,000 kilometres away amongst the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, Thailand, on the fastest rising fight sport promotion in the world, One Championship.
In front of thousands of passionate fight fans, home town hero Srisaket Sor Rungvisai scored a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Iran Diaz for the WBC Super Flyweight boxing world title. In the semi-main event, fellow country woman Stamp Fairtex claimed the ONE Kickboxing Women’s Atomweight Championship in a hotly contested battle over five rounds against China’s Kai Ting Zhuang. Similarly, MMA legend Shinya Aoki, Muay Thai phenom Petchdam Gaiyanghadao and rising star Anthony Njoukuani each took the win against opponents willing to live, and die, by the Bushido code.
So how do two events so similar in nature differ so greatly in theatrics? How do martial artists who have dedicated their lives to their art travel such different paths? Is it the promoter? The crowd? The fans? While each contribute in their own way, it is ultimately one person's choice:
All fighters are faced with a choice regardless of victory or defeat: Poise, grace and humility or arrogance, narcissism and disrespect.
For those of us brave enough to enter the fight arena, we too are faced with that choice.
And when that moment comes, who will you choose to be?