What is becoming quite clear in the wake of this EliteXC bonus pay debacle is that as the mainstream press picks up on it, the historically critical members of that group against MMA are now using this scandal as their pivot point. Absolute charlatans and curmudgeonly groaners like ESPN's/Washington Post's Michael Wilbon (how, exactly, is someone allowed to be a commentator or expert and openly admit ignorance of the topic?) are now using the EliteXC scandal to redouble their anti-MMA views. For those who don't know, Wilbon suggested on PTI yesterday that the entire sport of MMA is fixed.
While I believe the matter surrounding EliteXC is worthy of investigation (and Jeremy Lappen has contradicted himself again), I also have a real concern that as EliteXC is on CBS it becomes the face of MMA. And because of that, there is some sort of conflation of UFC and EliteXC into one entity known as "MMA". According to that line of thinking, there either is no distinction between the UFC and EliteXC or as EliteXC goes, so goes the UFC. Neither situation is accurate nor helpful, but it could be what we're now facing thanks to journalistic disasters like Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. They are utterly clueless and without the slightest bit of integrity, but they have an audience. If the audience is malleable, then as warped and worthless and Kornheiser's/Wilbon's opinion may be, to the uninitiated it is the only opinion they are hearing.
I am by no means suggesting that the criticisms of EliteXC should stop because of concerns how the sport is being affected. If EliteXC is innocent, they deserve to be proven so and if they are guilty, that fact should come to light as well. But let it be known that the mainstream press is once again doing no one who loves MMA any favors. Dana White may scorn the online media, but we are the only ones with the knowledge to draw distinctions between EliteXC and the UFC or EliteXC and the entire sport of MMA.
So, let's also beat the drum about what MMA is about, why it's a great sport, why it's safe and why not all organizations equal one another. This situation could boil over and eliminate much of the positive growth our sport has witnessed the last two years. If EliteXC is guilty, they have no right to take us down with them. The responsibility to protect our sport is just as much yours as it is mine. Let's be mindful of that going forward.
UPDATE: Another thought: to anyone who now suggests that bloggers can say whatever they want and have no accountability to anyone, you can officially thank Michael Wilbon for completely destroying your argument.