For a competition that boils down to trying to hurt your opponent as much as you can before he does the same to you, there’s usually a surprisingly high level of sportsmanship in mixed martial arts. No matter how rough things get in the lead up to a fight with trash talk and posturing, fighters will almost always touch gloves as their match starts, and often end up hugging each other after fifteen minutes of war.
That’s why what you’re about to see in this video clip of Ibragim Khalilov versus Bakhtiyar Barotov from Chinese promotion WBK’s 22nd show is so shocking to most combat sports fans. There’s nothing technically illegal about what Khalilov does to Baratov — it’s a fighter’s responsibility to protect themselves at all times — but that doesn’t take away from what a cheap move it is to fake the traditional glove touch at the beginning of a fight so you can get in close enough to sucker punch your opponent.
There are some people out there defending Ibragim, claiming he wasn’t going for the glove touch at all. So what do you think? Did Khalilov break one of the unspoken tenets of MMA sportsmanship with his move or was this more on Barotov for not being ready to fight?