In the span of the last several months, I've noticed the tone of the MMA community on the Internet go from "support the sport" to a non-stop whine-fest.
Things noticeably started to go downhill with UFC 73: Stacked. By my estimation, that PPV was one of the most compelling cards from top to bottom. I didn't mind that no prelim fights were shown because every fight on the card was noteworthy in someway and I was satisfied with all the outcomes (even the draw between Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans). Afterwards, I was more than a little surprised that many MMA websites, podcasts and message boards complained that the card didn't live up the hype and it wasn't the most "stacked" card in MMA history as Dana White had bragged.
Let's not be naive and immature. If you go to a coffee shop with a sign that says "world's best coffee" and the coffee isn't the best you've ever had, do you pound your fists and complain to the owner about false advertising? Dana White is a promoter and it's his job to hype UFC shows. Like any marketed product in this world, you take it with a grain of salt and curb your expectations. Even if you think the event didn't live up the hype, it was still aptly titled and the fights delivered plenty of drama and action.
The complainers continued to gain momentum after UFC 74: Respect, where Renato Sobral failed to break his chokehold after his opponent tapped and admitted to purposefully punishing his opponent for insulting him. The Nevada Athletic Commission acted swiftly and withheld his win bonus and the UFC released him from his contract for his unsportsmanlike conduct.
No one would disagree that what Soboral did was classless, yet the keyboard warriors still found something to cry about by comparing the treatment of Sobral to that of BJ Penn and calling for more consistent and fair treatment. Critics conveniently ignored Dana White going on record and saying that Sobral was released not only for the transgression, but also adding: "I don't like the direction he's been going in, and he needs to straighten his life out if he wants to continue to be a professional athlete, " which makes comparisons to Penn irrelevant. On the flipside, had the UFC done nothing, the same critics would have been up in arms about the UFC needing to take a hard-line stance against such poor behavior.
The latest PPV, UFC 75: Champion vs. Champion, sparked not one, but two things for the whiners to gripe about. First was the so-called controversial decision victory of Michael Bisping over Matt Hamill. Almost everyone agrees that it was a close fight and in close fights, the decision can go either way. The judges themselves have given well-reasoned explanations of their judging criteria, so why does everyone need to get on their soapbox and say that Hamill was robbed and the 10-point must judging system needs be overhauled? It was a great fight among several others that night. Why are we making a big fuss over something that really wasn't that controversial and taking away attention from the other highly competitive fights that took place?
The second complaint was about how the unification of the Pride and UFC light heavyweight wasn't focused upon in the main event and Sherdog columnist, Danny Acosta, even went so far as to say the UFC squandered the significance of Dan Henderson vs. Quinton Jackson by not building it up enough. Are you freaking kidding me? Let's be real here. Who the hell cares if the UFC didn't follow through with the Pride and UFC title unification and that it wasn't built up enough (never mind that over 4 million people tuned in to watch on Spike TV)? Both fighters were true champions and they both showed up and delivered a competitive war. Instead of sweating the petty stuff, why not celebrate the efforts of these two warriors who gave it everything they had?
As a fan of MMA, all the constant complaining is not only irritating, but it also takes away from my love and enjoyment of the sport. To all the MMA journalists and writers/bloggers, I'm not asking you to be a cheerleader or shill for Zuffa or any other promotion, but being a persistent contrarian and naysayer does not make you a better writer, prove your credibility as an unbiased reporter, or help your readership. Bias is bias no matter which side of the fence you are on and it hurts your credibility just as much as being a shill and you're likely to turn readers off permanently.
To everyone else, try to remember why you fell in love with MMA. Chances are you didn't become a fan because you enjoy bitching about the judging systems or whether or not a card was properly promoted or not. We enjoy MMA because of the thrills and drama of unarmed combat between two warriors. That is what should be the central focus of the MMA fan above all else.
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Everyone had the right to bitch about the Hamill/Bisping decisions. That fight wasn’t close at all. Hamill beat his ass for two rounds and then Bisping peppered him with light shots in the 3rd to steal that one. That was it. Stacked blew. No if ands or buts about it. I don’t see how you can’t say it blew. Sherk, Ortiz, and Evans all put on terrible fights. Herring should have gotten the stoppage over Big Nog. The only worthwhile fight was the Florian fight, as Nate got dominated by Silva. I don’t see anyone bitching about Sobral’s treatment though,… Read more »
The reason why MMA fans bitch so much lately is because the sport is still very young. It was a closet sport loved by knowledgeable fans and has turned into misunderstood mainstream sport. The fact that TUF newbies walk the earth saying that BJ Penn is overrated will drive any fan to bitching. The fact that knees to the head and foot stomps are illegal, 3 round fights when 5 should be the norm for all fights, and moron judging who can score any fight anyway because the judges don’t understand the ground game means that there are heaps of… Read more »
Overall, good job with this column (and thanks of course for the compliment toward MMAjunkie.com). While a lot of people have complained about some recent events, including me, I don’t think there are many people complaining about all of those items. I think a few writers, though, did rally around some topics they felt especially strong about. Although we do usually play it “down the middle” at Junkie, I too had to speak up over Sobral, and the Hamill-Bisping decision. UFC 73 was a little different. I did mention that I thought the event was a bit of a letdown… Read more »
I also wanted to add that for any media outlet that thinks that being negative helps boost their credibility and readership, should take note of the rise in popularity and success of MMAjunkie.com (formerly UFCjunkie.com). They do fairly straight reporting and don’t try to interject their personal views and preach in their news posts.