Saturday night was surreal, that’s the only way to describe it. Giorgio Petrosyan the king of kickboxing, the best 70 KG kickboxer we’ve ever seen, hell quite possibly the best kickboxer we’ve ever seen in any weight class. He defined perfection, he was a man who not only would win, but he would tactically embarrass his opponents for the entirety of the match. I’m not sure there is anyone else that has made more top level fighters look like amateurs more or less. The sheer thought of Petrosyan losing seemed about as realistic as an Ed Wood film. Yet, here we are a few days out and that’s the case.
After Andy Ristie rendered Petrosyan unconscious it was just pure disbelief in the arena. Everyone was gasping, their hands up in the air, mouths agape. Up to that point, Andy Ristie was fighting the perfect fight, he was throwing of Petrosyan’s timing, wasn’t letting him get comfortable with his range and he was still losing the fight on most people's scorecards. Ristie did put on the performance of a lifetime, beating the number one and two guys at 70KG. He not only defeated them, he knocked out a man who was 76-1-1 who’s never been knocked out and he knocked out a man who was knocked out once in 73 fights. It was one of the best one night performances in recent memory, it’s up there with Semmy’s K1 WGP run in 09, it was something to behold as it truly felt special.
Even though I consider myself an unbiased observer of kickboxing, I still had a weird feeling after seeing Petrosyan lose. On the train ride home from the event I was racking my brain, trying to sum up my feelings on it and the only thing I could come up with was a comment Pat Miletich made after Fedor lost to Werdum. “My heart sank not for Fedor but for the reality of perfection that is not attainable in the sport of MMA. All experienced fighters know you’re going to lose if you’re fighting world-class opponents, but Fedor was different.” For me it’s sad to see the guy who was thought to be unbeatable, bested. Sure, at the end of the day, it was bound to happen, you can only fight the best of the best for so long without getting caught.
Now I know sports are a very reactionary world, I’ve been guilty being reactionary after an event as well, it happens. After Saturday night, I saw a few people question Petrosyan his record and his skill level. Now, let me address his record, sure, there are times when he faced guys that are out of the top 20, but he also fights 5 times or more a year and he continually faces the best of the best. Now, here’s a gripe that I have, is about this talk about padding records, first of all, Petrosyan doesn’t have a padded record, plain and simple. If he did have a padded record, so what? If a promotion can pad a guys record, sell him to me as a world beater and make me want to see him fight, I’m 100% for it. That’s one of the biggest problems that I have with the UFC, they don’t know how to build guys up properly, they throw them to the wolves and if they lose, they lose all drawing power. Now onto the Petrosyan’s skill, I hate the fact that this is even a question, he’s the best 70KG kickboxer ever, end of story. The way he slips punches, counters, draws everyone into his fight, it’s a thing of beauty. Combat sports are tricky, it’s not like baseball where you have numbers to quantify how good a player is. It’s all an eye test, you have to have a trained eye to see it and while I don’t consider myself an expert, I do consider myself a seasoned viewer and have seen a fair share of Petro’s fights. Any positive adjective you can think of, Petro fits it.
At the end of the day, perfection isn’t something that can be obtained, it’s the idea of it that’s so beautiful, the idea of a man trying to become this abstract idea, it’s just so fascinating. Everytime you tell yourself it’s something that can’t happen, someone will come along and change your mind and Petrosyan was that guy. Even with his knockout loss, Petrosyan will continue to chase the unobtainable goal of perfection.