Megan Fraser

January 2024

In the early hours of South Africa’s Sunday morning, another chapter of sporting history was written. Dricus “Stillknox” Du Plessis secured his place as the first South African to hold the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) belt, triumphing over Sean Strickland in a hard-fought battle. The victory, sealed by a split decision, marked du Plessis’ claim to the middleweight belt, dethroning the reigning champion.

It was a close call; the final score by the three judges being 47-48, 48-47 and 48-47 in favour of the South African.

My older son was fully invested in this match; he had been watching the build up very closely and, as a result, I’ve had front row seats and enjoyed an informed and energetic build up as well. Having watched the bout, he commented afterwards on how intriguing it is that three judges, all with high levels of technical knowledge and experience, watch the same match and score it differently.

This got me thinking about our individual lenses, our unique perspectives. Whether it’s the intensity of a fight, the artistry of a performance, or selecting an asset manager, the various methods and differing scores from individual evaluators is likely to reveal the subjectivity inherent in human experience. This led me to consider some of the factors that contribute to these variances.

In the realm of judgment, diverse perspectives are likely to be the result of individual backgrounds, shaped by life experiences and values. These differences play a crucial role in how individuals assess situations, with varying levels of importance assigned to different aspects. Cognitive filters, stemming from beliefs and attitudes, unconsciously influence evaluators’ processing of information, resulting in diverse perspectives based on preferences like aggression or strategic focus. Emotions, cultural backgrounds, personal preferences, communication styles, decision-making under pressure, and unconscious biases contribute to the subjective nature of judgment, resulting in variations in interpretation and scoring among individuals.

It’s also notable that Sean Strickland had just recently won the coveted title; Strickland beat Israel Adesanya for the UFC Middleweight Championship on September 10, 2023. He won the fight by unanimous decision in what was considered a major upset, as Adesanya was a 7/1 betting favorite. With this recent triumph, Strickland justifiably entered the ring with hard-won confidence and high expectations, only to face an unexpected defeat.

A hard, but important lesson: nothing is permanent, there is no finish line, every win, however notable and celebrated, is transient and shift is inevitable.

The ultimate and enduring triumph comes from committing completely to a cause, philosophy or purpose; undertaking the necessary preparation, learning, training, and sweating to deliver the best of your convictions. Absolute commitment to a philosophy and dedication to that practice reveals the depth of integrity and character…and ultimately becomes your legacy.

South Africans, particularly our sportsmen (cheers to Bafana Bafana for beating Namibia!), possess an exceptional ability to excel and surpass expectations. It’s a source of immense joy and a reason for us to come together in celebration. Such unexpected triumphs tend to choke me up, making me feel sentimental and, dare I say, optimistic. With great joy and enthusiasm, I celebrate these unforeseen successes and maintain hope for our ability to learn, grow, and thrive. I hope you join me in this celebration.

“We love our country, I love our people, and I love life … otherwise I would have been out of here a long time ago. This country is a major part of my success, and the major reason for me being successful. It’s because I have that grit, and that South African heart. And that’s what they don’t know”.

‘Hulle weet nie wat ons weet nie”

Dricus Du Plessis