When professional fighters converse in the middle of a match

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Thiago Marreta and Kevin Holland chat while beating each other up. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Two competitors face each other on the mat or in the ring. There, they measure power and technique to see who can win a fight. But sometimes they also share a few words with one another — friendly or not.

This phenomenon involving BJJ and MMA fighters isn’t new, but it was particularly visible last weekend. Thiago Marreta of TFT was fighting in the UFC’s middleweight division and came face to face with first-timer Kevin Holland. Known for carrying himself in an atypical manner, which includes pulling some crazy moves and having conversations during his fights, Holland was pretty chatty, and Marreta went along with it, as reported by Combate.com in a recent interview.

“He showed potential, personality,” Marreta told the website. “He was happy to be there, smiling, talking, but at no point was he disrespectful. In the middle of the fight, he was thanking me for the opportunity. Me in his guard, on top, hitting him, there were times he’s stop and say, ‘Thank you, brother. Thank you for the opportunity.’

“I knew he was like that — I’ve seen his fights. I knew he was happy to fight me, as if he were a fan of mine. I also got in the mood and thanked him. We talked during the fight. I thanked him too: ‘Great fight. You’re a very tough guy.’ At the end I told him, ‘You’re young. You have a long road ahead — you’re very tough.'”

We have other examples in MMA, like Michael Bisping, who used to talk to his opponents trying to destabilize them during a bout, or the more recent case of Renzo Gracie, who talked to his cornermen before picking up the pace to win at ONE FC: Reign of Kings. In BJJ, we have a few examples too — like Erberth Santos, who not only says to his opponents’ faces that their submission adjustments aren’t quite on point with sentences like “That doesn’t work,” but has also been involved in some heated discussions on the mat with the likes of Bernardo Faria and Leandro Lo.

Do you think this sort of interaction during a fight makes these sports richer? Let us know in the comments.

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