Chambers-Curran: On Your Shield or With It
You can tell when a fighter breaks. You see it in their eyes, in the way they move, in the way they go through the motions just to make it until the end, not caring whether or not they win. The way they just lay on an opponent so they can breathe.
Alex Chambers (5-2) did none of those things last night in her strawweight fight against Kailin Curran (3-2) at UFC Fight Night 65 in Adelaide, a fight that Curran controlled from the first bell. Whether it was because it was a morning fight, or an adrenaline dump, or just a bad day, after the first round Chambers appeared to be heading for her first loss on home soil.
Chambers did everything she could to take down Curran and get a submission, and she did get Curran to the mat twice in round one and again at the end of round two, but Curran laid it on thick. Her ground and pound in round two clearly heavily fatigued Chambers, and it seemed Chambers would be finished for the first time in her career. Curran made a gleeful throatcutting motion to her corner at the end of round two. She knew Chambers was done. She knew she would end the day with her hand in the air.
The exhaustion on Chambers’ face as she walked to her own corner appeared to prove Curran right.
Chambers started round three clearly struggling to breathe, but then you noticed the set of her head and the look in her eyes. A look not of defeat, not of resignation, but of resolution. She was coming back on her shield or with it. She was refusing to quit.
Some commentator’s claim what happened next was a fluke. Or luck. Or Curran’s corner giving bad advice. It may be any or all of those things, but it was also because of the very definition of heart, which has nothing to do with your opponent, only you. It comes from within, and it can’t be taught. Curran should have realized that when Chambers didn’t break in round two, and Chambers should have broken in round two. Curran should have remembered that when she made the throat-cutting gesture signaling Chambers was done.
And then Curran took down Chambers and Chambers went for the kimura from the bottom and Curran slipped out, but Chambers hung on and transitioned into an armbar and Curran had no choice but to tap. A tap that must have been agonizing.
And just like that, the fight was over.
Both women seemed to struggle not to cry as they stood waiting for the official announcement, Chambers too spent, Curran too proud.
One came back with her shield, and one came back on hers. But both were warriors.
Chambers won a Performance of the Night bonus.
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