Adesanya vs. Romero in UFC248 was mostly a stand-off. In round 1, Romero lured Adesanya in and tagged him. Adesanya said, “Okay, now I know I can take his worst punch.” Yet, Adesanya played an outside game, with Romero hoping to lure him in again. Repeat for 5 rounds.
Chess fights like these are normal in the streets. The opponents have their different weapons, ready to draw, but the rules of the game create conditions that don’t incentivize the contestants to ever use them. The opponents’ intent loads bounce off one another until they realize the risk of death isn’t worth it, so chess fights usually end with some “f*ck you’s” and a stand-down:
The audience hates these. We have our own violent intents loaded from resentments built up over the week, and we watch fights expecting the opponents to resolve these intents by mirroring what’s in our own brains. When the contenders play chess, our intent loads are left unresolved.
Sanctioned combat is not designed for the fighters. The rules are for the audience, except in the case of safety and liability laws. New rules are always introduced to urge the contenders in the direction of proper intent offloading. Otherwise, the audience leaves unfulfilled and the show loses tickets. That’s show business.
Romero vs. Adesanya is more representative of a real fight than most stuff in the UFC, but events like this in UFC248 may result in rule changes. We’ll see what happens.