Why Aren't All Fighters Fight Fans? Georges St. Pierre and the Culture of Fandom

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We watch fights. As fans, that's what we are supposed to do. For some of us, it's a sickness. Staying up late for Japanese broadcasts of kickboxing matches, stumbling into work in the morning half awake and giddy beyond belief, learning Japanese characters to better find the bootleg Pancrase at the Japanese grocery store - this sport is a passion for many. For many fighters? Less so.

I remember sitting with Frank Mir and his father at Frank's gym in Las Vegas. We were talking about Brock Lesnar and I mentioned Bobby Lashley, another pro wrestler who was starting to make a name. I was shocked that Mir hadn't heard of him. But Frank is a fighter, not a fan. While I was watching MMA and undoubtedly knew more about what was happening in the sport, he was doing MMA and without question knew more about what is happening in the cage. And it's an important distinction.

Many of the sport's best don't watch MMA for fun. Fedor Emelianenko was frank with me when we discussed it through a translator: he doesn't enjoy watching the sport, especially the UFC. It's too brutal, the approach too negative. He's not alone in his avoidance of MMA broadcasts. Georges St.Pierre tells Sherdog he isn't a big fight fan either:

I’ll tell the truth, I don’t really follow MMA enough to know. I do MMA every day of my life, so at nighttime, I try to do something else. I have other interests. If I don’t have friends who are fighting, I don’t even watch the fights. I just heard that Brock Lesnar lost, so I’m the wrong person to answer those questions about fighting.

Dave Herman told us the same thing before his fight earlier this year in Bellator. In a way, it makes perfect sense. These guys live and breathe the sport all day everyday. The last thing they want to do is take it home with them. Imagine you are Georges St. Pierre. You are the best fighter in the world. Why would you want to watch people worse than you do what you do? It would be like me watching a feed of Kid Nate blogging - I already know how it's done and do it all day. It would be poor entertainment. We can watch and GSP can do. It's probably best that way.

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