When is losing really a victory?

This is a question that philosophy majors could really chew on in a discussion. They could talk about moral victories, or about how the knowledge that is gained in a defeat is usually greater than the knowledge gained in victory, or how losing humbles people and motivates them to try harder.

Last month, during a fight hosted by Michigan’s Prison City Fight League promotion, Mike Pantangco tapped late in the first round of his battle with Jeremy Raser. This wasn’t an ordinary situation, though. Pantangco was not going to suffer a broken bone or be choked unconscious. No. In fact, he was likely on the verge of a big victory.

That’s when Pantangco, who was simply standing across the cage from his opponent, knelt down to the floor and tapped the mat.

What made Pantangco end the fight the way that he did?

What’s important to realize here is that the fight was an amateur bout, and because of this neither fighter would be exiting the cage with a purse. Due to the nature of the fact that it was a small promotion, if Raser had required medical treatment after the contest, the bills would likely have to come out of his own pocket. Would Pantangco have taken his foot off the gas if it were a situation where he was going to collect a check where it would not only have his show money, but a win bonus on top of it? Probably not, but the sportsmanship and class that was shown as a result may have saved a life, though there are some questions as to just how dominant of a showing Pantangco had put on prior to his tap.

Last year, fighter Felix Pablo Elochukwu passed away after suffering a TKO in an unregulated amateur fight that also took place in Michigan. Unfortunately, the Great Lake State is one where unregulated amateur MMA continues to take place. Even though at this point it is unclear as to whether or not fight that was held by the Prison City Fight League was regulated, it is great to see a fighter take a step back and realize the gravity of the situation that was in front of him. Pantangco realized that at the end of the day a victory wouldn’t matter any more or any less than a defeat when people look at his record, because everyone knows that he would have likely earned the knockout if he had pursued it.

“I just feel that there’s no point fighting him because he didn’t train against me and I didn’t train for him,” said Pantangco during an interview with Inside MMA on AXS TV.

This is an unfortunate situation with amateur MMA. Fight match-ups change left and right for various reasons. Promoters are worried about having a full fight card for their audience, who pay to take in the action, and the monetary incentives aren’t there to discourage the fighters from withdrawing from fights. Not to paint all promoters in a negative light, but there are some who will say that amateurs will gain valuable experience and yet put two fighters opposite each other who have not trained for each other.

This situation, and ones that have taken place in the past, such as the unfortunate passing of Elochukwu, will hopefully spark a new conversation which will help amateur mixed martial arts going forward.

Perhaps the rules need to change, where matchmakers should not be allowed to change a fighter’s opponent more than 10 days before their bout, regardless of what the fighters think. This could save fighters from terrible mismatches and potential injuries.

Or perhaps there needs to be regulation in place so that some portion of the fighters’ medical bills are covered by the promoter, or perhaps even their travel expenses or lodging for the fight are covered.

If it were an easy fix, it would have already happened. We can all agree, however, that something needs to be done to eliminate scenarios where amateurs are being used as fodder by promoters to a point where the athletes are at risk.

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.