The Modern Day MMA FanPosted on December 27, 2010, 06:28 AM by overhand right
MMA is a relatively young sport. While it encompasses many martial arts that date back hundreds of years, the sport itself is only beginning to come into the mainstream on a global scale, mainly due to the efforts of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, who have held events everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Germany. I myself could be considered a member of the new generation of fans, first learning of MMA when UFC 93 came to Ireland. Since watching the event I've become obsessed with MMA, dedicating my spare time to viewing all the classic match-ups from over the years that i've missed out on. I've already learnt so much, watching everything from Strikeforce, to all-time greats competing in Pride and UFC cards stretching back to the dawn of the Liddell era.
In the comparatively short time I've been aware of the sport, it has become apparent to me that there are, for the most part, two types of MMA fans nowadays. Neither of which could be considered particularly favourable to the other in my opinion. Perhaps in time, with the continued growth of the sport, fans will eventually reach a stage where they are all well-informed and knowledgeable, not unlike the current state of worldwide appeal that soccer has achieved.
The first of these stereotypes I have encountered is the casual fan. These are usually people who have been introduced to MMA via the rising popularity of the UFC. The casual fan sits down once or twice a month with his buddies to have a few beers and watch some guys get their heads knocked off. They have probably never heard the words 'StrikeForce' or 'Dream' uttered, other than when Dana White decides to cut them down to size in one of his video blogs or post-fight interviews. What's worse is that the ones that are aware of other promotions constantly belittle them and consider them insignificant, having never given the variety of substitutes to ZUFFA-owned promotions a chance. This is one of the drawbacks of the UFC's ever-increasing global fanbase. They are selling Ultimate Fighting as the sport rather than the global sport of MMA, which, unbeknownst to a disturbing percentage of fans, does exist outside the now famous octagon.
As a result a huge portion of fans are completely ignorant of the great fights they're missing out on; the last Strikeforce card in St Louis would have been the equivalent of a wet dream for the casual blood thirsty fan. It is irritating to listen to this kind of fan, a robot that listens to everything that comes out of Mike Goldberg's mouth, it's as if the UFC is brainwashing these people into believing the Dana White philosophy of the only fighters worth a damn residing under the ZUFFA banner. Surely it's pure coincidence that he would say that about his own business. Hmmm.
The second breed of fan is a far more tragic one. Unsurprisingly, when something becomes popular, there will always be those who liked it from the beginning, before it was cool. This is no different with MMA. Hardcore fans took an interest from the beginning when MMA was still an underground movement in contrast to other sports, back when Pride was still around and flaunting possibly the most talent-stacked roster of fighters in living memory. They are the most dedicated of fans, constantly staying up to date with everything MMA, from the hottest prospects in the M-1 Selection Show to the announcement of the latest Sengoku card, they are MMA gurus and have my respect for their extensive knowledge and passion for the sport.
But here is where the tragedy lies. An unfortunate trend has developed among these hardcore fans that is visible on any Internet forum you wish to visit. As mentioned above, MMA has recently come into the mainstream and as a result, dedicated fans that took interest from the beginning are now looking for other ways to be different and independent from common opinion. This search for individuality has taken the form of a hate campaign against the UFC, its fighters and its fans. I compare it to music snobs; they liked a band (UFC) that used to be different and indie, but now that it's come into mainstream it has lost all appeal as it is no longer cool and trendy. So instead they hype up far more abstract and unknown bands (Sengoku, Dream etc.) to look even more indie. Hardcore fans are always critiquing every aspect of the UFC.
In the eyes of the hardcore fan: Dana White is a control freak that's destroying MMA and it'd be better off if he'd never been around, and let's not forget that he bought off the hardcore fan's favourite promotion, Pride FC. The fighters are overhyped and would get knocked or submitted in under a minute against any of the top guys in other organisations, oh and they've been brainwashed by the ZUFFA too. The fans are idiots because they jump on the UFC bandwagon and are feeding a malevolent, all-consuming company, the ultimate goal of which is world domination.
What I find most ridiculous about this recent shift in attitude towards the UFC is that, like them or not, they built MMA. Had the Fertitta brothers not been convinced by Dana White to continue investing in the company, the UFC would have folded and MMA would not have reached even a fraction of the recognition it has gained today. In the early days, MMA was heavily frowned upon and hardly accepted as a sport, rather it was seen as a barbaric showcase that should be outlawed. Using the Unified Rules, Dana White sought to get the Sport legalised in the United States, allowing MMA to branch out into new audiences and also paving the way for smaller organisations to gain a foothold. Without the UFC this website would likely not exist and you would probably not be reading this.
So a healthy balance must be struck somewhere between the brainwashed 'ZUFFA Zombies' and the hardcore fans. By all means, there is nothing wrong with being a well-read fan, it's important to support smaller organisations and it's good for the sport and the fighters for the UFC to have competition. A lot of entertainment can be derived from watching an adrenaline-fueled Dream event or the exciting matchups on a Strikeforce card. But you must be realistic and come to terms with the fact that Dana White and the Fertitta brothers deserves credit for all they has done for MMA and right now, and for the foreseeable future, the UFC is the top of the heap in relation to talent, depth, recognition and professionalism. So don't be hatin'.