Eugene S. Robinson's resume is as interesting and varied as he is. From writing for several major magazines (GQ, The Wire, Harp, Hustler..etc) to writing multiple books to fronting the band Oxbow there is no confusing Eugene with a man lacking in life experience. As such, there may be no one more interesting to hear speak about the post-fight "festivities" from this past Saturday. Eugene penned the following for Bloody Elbow:
In 1984 amateur wrestling great Dave Schultz [or perhaps it was his brother Mark, the memory blurs] on his way to an Olympic gold medal, "happened" to break his Turkish opponents arm. This was not MMA, this was amateur WRESTLING [so in all likelihood the arm was broken not with any sort of hyperextension but just through the sheer force of CRUSH]. He was largely reprimanded for it and his briefest of responses ran along the lines of "I guess they're turning wrestling into a sissy sport."
Flash forward to NOW, where a few days after one of the greatest MMA cards ever – JAKE SHIELDS v. DAN HENDERSON – a nation full of MMA fans, pundits and prognosticators are drinking the kool aid and wringing their hands like a coffee klatch all concerned about how MMA "looks" to the rest of America. Websites, this one included, like grandmothers, are talking about "the black eye" the sports been given and about how execrable [look it up] the post-fight fight wherein Team Cesar Gracie taught Jason MAYHEM Miller a lesson in deportment was.
Well, I am here to call bullshit on that.
The past 365 days have seen one of football's premier quarterbacks arrested for raping drunk chicks in bathrooms. Er, allegedly. High school football players paralyzed, some brain damaged. Numerous drug busts. And within hours of penning this article a world champion boxer has just committed suicide after murdering his wife. And not a whimper about "black eyes" or these sports "looking bad." There are also basebrawls, basketbrawls and hockey fights a'plenty. Yeah: crickets, in terms of public outcry.
I submit that MMA nowadays is so tender that the sensitive susans who are worried about CBS [admittedly the most conservative of networks out there…and coincidentally smarting over it] and the sport suffering because, imagine this, fighters got into a fight at a fight…a fight brought about by a man named MAYHEM…well, the ladies protesteth too much.
There is a tragedy here: Shields gutsy underdog win over a much-hyped [deservedly], Dan Henderson put to bed the stinky and lingering knock against Shields that he fights boring fights. It was a rollercoaster model of intensity with buckets of intestinal fortitude, toughness and more never-say-die-tude than many have witnessed for awhile. And an even greater tragedy here would be the seeming low viewer numbers CBS managed to swing this fight's way [which incidentally had little or nothing to do with the brawl]. Or the ways the community has been stumbling over itself to partake in this weirdly American ritual of the apology. THESE are tragedies. But Nick and Nate Diaz, Gil Melendez and Jake Shields reacting like we ALL would have reacted to Miller's possibly misplaced show of "what about me"-ism, is not one of them.
Sure, CBS might drop MMA. But it's got nothing to do with a little bit of chaos in the cage. The reality is America's lingering uncomfortability with MMA has everything to do with the honesty with which MMA addresses the most human of all human endeavors: the management of conflict. MMA is the most honest sport in America today. Nick and Nate Diaz, like them or hate them, are some of the most honest among the honest. And Jake Shields comported himself like a gentleman and a scholar. In a sport that's not a sissy sport.
So my advice to all involved: fine no one. Ban no one. Get them all in the cage on an upcoming card [Miller's objective after all], and stop the trembling and tearful knee-knocking concerns about America's take on MMA.
Or…start following tennis. I hear they're looking to expand their fan base.
EUGENE S. ROBINSON is the author of FIGHT: Everything you ever wanted to know about ass kicking but were afraid you'd get your ass kicked for asking [Harper Collins], as well as the just released crime saga A LONG SLOW SCREW [Robotic Boot].