Dodging, escaping, running away... they’re all the same thing, and it’s not always cowardly. It is a well-known principle among even beginning martial artists that the best block is not being there in the first place, which works on more than one level. If you can avoid fighting at all, then don’t fight and you won’t get hurt. If you are in a fight, the only way to never take damage is to never allow yourself to be hit. And if you are about to be hit, get out of the way if you can.
In fighting games, this boils down into two major forms:
With characters that excel at far range (e.g. Dhalsim in the SF series or Mina in SSV), regulating that distance is an essential strategy. However, excessive emphasis on intentionally running down the clock reeks of chicken-ism.
With poison moves and such, even a disadvantaged opponent may find it better to employ tactics, however.