Obama is currently cramming for the next Presidential debate on Tuesday in order to make up for his terrible performance in his first debate with Mitt Romney and Joe Biden's odd and rude debate with Paul Ryan. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney knows he won't face a pacified Obama in the second debate and is preparing for an Obama who promises to be more aggressive with Mitt.
While Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are preparing for the debates, I'd like to offer some lessons on debating from an unlikely source: the UFC. Here's some lessons the candidates could learn from the UFC.
1. Take Your Training Seriously: As any UFC fighter or Coach will tell you, be serious about your training and train hard. Apparently, Obama didn't train hard or seriously in his first debate. As a result, his lack of preparation and not taking it seriously was obviously apparent. If UFC President Dana White could offer advice to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, he would probably tell them, "If you want the f***ing belt, train like you f***ing want it."
2. Stick To The Game Plan: Many UFC coaches and training will tell you that sticking to the game plan as established in the training sessions will increase your likelihood of wining in the Octagon. Apparently, Obama didn't stick with his prearranged game plan that in the first debate:
In an extraordinary insight into the events leading up to the 90 minute showdown which changed the face of the election, a Democrat close to the Obama campaign today reveals that the President also did not take his debate preparation seriously, ignored the advice of senior aides and ignored one-liners that had been prepared to wound Romney.The Democrat said that Obama's inner circle was dismayed at the 'disaster' and that he believed the central problem was that the President was so disdainful of Romney that he didn't believe he needed to engage with him.
'President Obama made it clear he wanted to be doing anything else - anything - but debate prep,' the Democrat said. 'He kept breaking off whenever he got the opportunity and never really focused on the event.
'He went into the debate armed with a number of one-liners to throw at Romney, including at least two about Romney not caring about 47 per cent of the country. But he decided not to use them.'The Democrat, who is aligned with the Obama campaign and has been an unofficial adviser on occasions, said that David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, was stunned that the President left the stage feeling that he had won the debate.
'To his credit, the President believes that debates are about substance rather than performance. He felt that his argument about the direction this country should take was much stronger than Romney's. Unfortunately, that's not the way modern debates work.'
During his debate preparation in Henderson, Nevada, Obama broke off to visit a campaign field office. There, he joked with a volunteer about how his advisers were 'keeping me indoors all the time' to practice. 'It's a drag. They're making me do my homework.'
3. Its All About Cardio: You can be the strongest fighter in the world but lose many fights if you are not able to sustain your energy throughout the entire match. In watching the debate, Obama appeared to me to come out strong but gassed out shortly after the debate began. You can see it when Obama tells Jim Leher, the moderator, "Jim, I -- you may want to move onto another topic." To me, that was an admission from Obama that he was losing the energy to stay in the fight with Mitt. To make matters worse, Romney took advantage of that lack of preparation and sucked out whatever remaining energy Obama had left by keep throwing those laser guided punches.
Another piece of evidence that Obama had no stamina for the first debate was that he never maintained eye contact with Romney. He could not look Romney in the eye which revealed that he could not muster the confidence or energy to defend his own record. By contrast, Romney kept his gaze on Obama which made Obama appear weak, small, and not at all presidential
Given Obama's lackluster performance at his first debate, does Obama really have the stamina to go toe to toe with Mitt Romney for another 1 hour round with Mitt? Can Mitt Romney repeat his performance at the first debate a second time in his second match with Obama? If both candidates want to win, they must be able to look strong, sharp and have the energy to endure the brutal debate. Neither one can afford to gas out in this match.
4. Don't Let It Go To The Judges: Dana White, the President of the UFC, has consistently told fighters to not let the fight go to the judges because victory is left in the hands of someone other than you. In his first debate, Obama clearly was willing to let the debate be decided by the judges, in this case, the American people. The American people overwhelmingly thought Obama lost that debate. In contrast, Mitt Romney didn't play it safe but came out swinging. That's why he won the debate.
I didn't see the debate live and so when I was reading and watching the post-debate news, the media made it appear as if Romney gave Obama a beatdown. When I finally saw the debate, Obama didn't perform as badly as the media portrayed him to be but that Romney gave a perfect debate in terms of technique and style and Obama simply wasn't ready for it at all. Romney picked Obama apart with precise and hard punches. When the debate ended, the judges, the American people, clearly gave Romney the victory in that debate.
5. Be Selective With Your Punches: This lesson comes from the Vice Presidential debates and I think both Obama and Romney should review the tapes of this debate in preparation for Tuesday's debate. Its a simple and basic lesson but the Obama campaign apparently hasn't learned this lesson yet.
I am 100% positive Peggy Noonan doesn't watch the UFC but she makes a great point about confusing strength with aggression. In the UFC, one can be strong and not need to be aggressive to win a fight In contrast, you can be aggressive and still end up losing the fight. Joe Biden was wildly aggressive towards Paul Ryan but there was no strength behind his attacks. He was throwing haymakers but not landing any punches on Mitt's running mate:
Joe Biden came out swinging at Paul Ryan, flailing wildly and landing a few punches on his own jaw as well as his opponent's. He showed the kind of spirit and populist anger that President Barack Obama was so conspicuously lacking and has cheered up many demoralised Democrats.
6. What Happens After The Debate Is Just As Important As What Happens During The Debate: Its clear that Obama didn't take the debate seriously when preparing for it. However, sometimes UFC fighters can make up for their loss by how they act after the fight. About 99% of the time, most UFC fighters are humble and pensive about their losses. Rarely do they get cocky about which can diminish the way the fans view the fighters. For Obama, he negatively influenced the way Americans look at him when it was revealed that the President thought he won the first debate immediately after he left the stage. To make matters worse, Obama still thinks he won the debate and claims that people will judge him as the winner if they read the debate transcript. In this day and age, I don't think anyone reads transcripts anymore. I don't think making that statement helps Obama at all.
Obama also went after Mitt Romney after the debate had debate had ended by calling Mitt Romney a liar and running ads about Sesame Street. I think the American voter wasn't amused by Obama's post debate behavior and it will hurt him in the long run.
In contrast, Mitt Romney simply went out on the campaign trail as if victory was natural to him. It also made him look very Presidential. This will help him tremendously in building the momentum for November 6th and sharpening the contrast between himself and Obama.
It may appear that the UFC and Presidential debates have nothing in common but by reviewing these basic lessons, a Presidential candidate can be well prepared for a debate. Obama needs to learn these lessons badly while Romney simply needs to review them in preparation for Tuesday's debates.
What other lessons from the UFC do you think Romney and Obama could learn in getting ready for the debate?