Monthly Archives: July 2013

Mixed Martial Arts

mixedToo many times, hype becomes something that we, the buying and sometimes even participating public, can’t control. It starts as a swell, becomes a wave, and grows into a tsunami. But we still always take our boards into the water to catch that wave, even though what was ultimately supposed to be the best catch of the season usually turns out to be little more than a powerful flutter of whitewater. Such is the realm of MMA, and more so, combat sports in general.

Promoters feed on hope. Our hope. The athletes act their parts as the characters in the script we’ll either root for or against, but at the end of the day, its just another movie we saw. Different director, different set, but same script. It has become rare for me to see something I didn’t expect, or be completely satisfied with the majority of the endings.

I try not to be a “rooter.” I enjoy sport more nowadays when I do not have an emotional interest invested in a contest. Take Pavlik-Taylor II. I like both, didn’t really care all that much who won, I just wanted it to be a competitive contest between two highly-skilled athletes. That’s what I got. Now if I had rooted solely for Taylor, I’d be pretty pissed right now. If I rooted for Pavlik, I’d be pretty excited that he beat Taylor twice in a row. But since I like both, I could ease myself into viewing such with an unparalleled objective-to enjoy the night.

mixed2What I want are more nights like those. I won’t get them very often, as I am not completely truthful: I do have rooting interests. I like Henderson, and therefore, certainly like him over Silva, although in this case, one almost has nothing to do with the other-I simply just think Henderson is crowned champion before 20 minutes of fighting is through. But I liked Kimbo over Tank, and I don’t really like Kimbo, at least not yet. It goes out of order, seemingly.

Too many times, we are ultimately fooled. Remember Tyson from the late eighties? Remember Spinks, Bonecrusher, and the rest? The high-priced pay-per views that would have fans yelling how they dropped loads of money to watch a short night of work for Iron Mike, as if it were his fault? No, it was always the public’s fault, the casual fan’s fault. Bert Sugar would yell up and down how Tyson was going to rip this or that guy up inside a couple of rounds, but more often than not, the so-called casual fan doesn’t have any idea who Bert Sugar is, nor would they seek his counsel if they did. So they bought.

I don’t believe that Kimbo Ferguson is to blame for dispatching an over-the-hill bruiser inside a minute. He did his job, he got him out of there. Tank didn’t belong there, anyway. I wonder if either of them did. And it wasn’t on pay-per-view, although Showtime is a premium channel. But we’re buying again now. And that’s the point.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The UFC crams their cards full of pretty even match-ups, so even if Henderson blitzes Silva inside 30 seconds, fans who paid the price would have gotten something for their return (plus, I trust Henderson-Silva will be competitive-I just think Henderson wins with dominance).

As sports often are cyclical, so will be MMA. The eventuality is that there will come a time when a major attraction is the sole reason people purchase a UFC or some other show. And that main attraction will knock the snot out of whomever Joe Opponent is fairly quickly, and people will gripe, just as they did for their purchases of Kid Dynamite’s glory days.

mixed3And I’ll never know why. It’s the growing need for the education of the casual fan. How many idiots jumped on the internet after Floyd beat Oscar complaining that it was a boring fight? Boring fight? Sorry, it wasn’t a slugfest, meatheads. Yet, if Oscar flattened Floyd inside two rounds, they would have complained it was too short. Eventually, we will reach this point in MMA, if we haven’t already, mark my words.

The one saving grace MMA has on its side is media. And aside from the TapOut program, I can watch just about everything that finds its way to the tube, albeit often begrudgingly. There is the internet, the biggest medium for the sport. The interest in MMA has been intimate enough to where people of all walks of life have done their own bidding to learn more about the sport, and that is a huge positive, and an even huger advantage over almost every other sport in the country, if not the world. So maybe the casual MMA fan will be a dying breed. Maybe it already is. It is just my hope that they are educated enough to understand that sometimes you don’t watch a movie for plot, sometimes you watch it for the dialogue. The characters in the story deserve your attention, no matter how big or small the part.