The pressure of the first mistake: Gordon had a fascinating exhibition match last night in Austin Texas against talented MMA star Philip Rowe. Since it was an exhibition match there was not winner or loser – it was designed to give an interesting spectacle to fans who haven’t seen Mr Ryan onstage since his stomach issues deteriorated. The rule set allowed for as many submissions as possible in a given time (in this case fifteen minutes) so it had the feeling of a gym sparring session. This has a very positive effect in some ways because you get a second if you make a mistake and get caught in a hold – you just tap and start again. It’s important to understand that in championship matches the outcome is usually decided by WHOEVER MAKES THE FIRST MISTAKE OR WHOEVER MAKES THE LEAST MISTAKES. This is what makes championship matches so nerve wracking – mistakes are severely punished. The result is that athletes play a very conservative game built mostly around AVOIDING ERRORS rather than taking exciting risks. When athletes are given multiple chances to atone for an error they can open up a lot more and take risks. Last nights match reflected this with both men going for a full range of moves some of which they probably wouldn’t ordinarily use in a high stakes match. To be sure I believe there is not substitute for conventional rule sets for championship matches – the need to avoid making errors and to capitalize on an opponents errors is what creates the intense drama of big matches, but I do like the more laid back multiple rule set for exhibition matches where there is a than usual discrepancy in skill level – it seemed to well last night and could provide a fascinating for spectators