The last thing any fighter wants to hear after a performance is UFC president Dana White calling their fight "boring" or any variation of the word.
In a current state of politics where boring sometimes equals buried on the undercard or it can go as far as being released if performances never seem to improve, the goal of finishing fights and putting on an exciting show for the fans becomes even more important. The old adage "you’re only as good as your last fight" really is true in MMA because when an athlete only competes three times a year, there’s a lot less time to make a good impression.
Undefeated UFC lightweight Myles Jury knows that feeling all too well.
Six months ago, he was one of the hottest prospects in the 155-pound division after he landed a vicious knockout over former Ultimate Fighter finalist Ramsey Nijem at UFC on FOX: Henderson vs. Melendez. He asked for his next fight to happen against another TUF finalist in Mike Ricci at UFC 165 in his home country of Canada.
Jury’s recent performances, which also included a one-sided victory over Michael Johnson, earned him huge favorite status going into the fight with Ricci. He was the clear pick to win, and it was believed in many ways that Ricci was below Jury’s status in the division and he should have been given a tougher opponent.
And then the fight happened.
Jury and Ricci engaged in a 15-minute fight of stand-around-and-wait as both competitors tried valiantly to sit back while trying to lure the other one in to land the perfect counter strike. When the action did happen, it was typically Jury landing the better shots, even tagging Ricci at one point with a punch that staggered him early in the fight. Still, Jury couldn’t capitalize enough to get the finish and when the three rounds were over the crowd in Toronto let the fighters hear it with a stentorian ovation of jeers.
Jury got the win, but even he admits it’s never a fun time to hear a crowd full of fans turn on you like you were the villainous invader that just snuck in and beat their hometown favorite. The fight didn’t play out how he wanted, but he knows it takes two to tango and as it turns out Ricci wasn’t much of a dance partner.
"It was a tough fight to grade because of mine and Ricci’s styles. We’re both good, defensive fighters and I feel like I came forward in the first and caught him with a good right hand. I feel like he backed away and tried to counter a lot, and I’m a good counter fighter, too. I was just having trouble finding his range," Jury explained when speaking to FOX Sports. "He was hard to hit. I just had to try to get some takedowns, try to throw some strikes to get him engaged. Our styles cancel each other out a lot. It was a tough fight.
"It takes two people to fight and he just didn’t engage as much as I’m used to as well. It was one of those patient fights, and I always hope they wouldn’t be a boring fight. I never want to have boring fights, but sometimes it’s just the way a fight plays out."
Following the conclusion of the bout, Ricci was released from the UFC after amassing a 1-2 record overall in the promotion. He was criticized on more than one occasion of not engaging much in a fight where the end result was a lackluster affair that didn’t draw much enthusiasm from fans in attendance or anyone watching at home.
It’s also a clear sign from the UFC that similar performances won’t be tolerated or encouraged. For his part, Jury wasn’t all that surprised by Ricci’s release, but he never wants to see any fighter lose their job after a tough fight like that.
"That’s not up to me, that’s up to the UFC," Jury said. "I wouldn’t say I was surprised, but I don’t really think about it too much. Nobody wants to get released and it was a tough break."
Now the pressure goes back on Jury’s shoulders to erase the memory of his last fight and get back to the performances that had him being mentioned as a potential Top 10 lightweight. Like most fighters, Jury is his own worst critic so he’s not upset that he got panned for his last bout against Ricci.
It’s a learning experience and Jury knows that the leash for multiple poor fights in the UFC is very short, but it’s not something he plans on ever doing again.
"I’m a perfectionist and when I look at the fight, I’m upset with certain things that I didn’t do and I didn’t get a chance to finish him," Jury said. "I like to finish fights as fast as I can. When I look at it from a perfectionist point of view, there’s still a lot of things I want to work on, a lot of things I want to do.
"There’s always something to prove. I always want to go out there and fight and perform very well. After every fight I always go back and talk to my coaches on what I need to work on. I’m really just trying to do me, and make my own name for myself."
Making a name for himself in his next fight will force Jury to forget his last one. If he can go out and have another showcase like he did against Nijem or Johnson, it will probably seem like the Ricci fight never happened. Jury isn’t trying to forget so much as learn and make sure the next time Dana White mentions his name it’s followed by a huge string of exclamation points.