As I was sitting on my couch watching Strikeforce: Nashville this past Saturday night, I had no reaction to the now infamous "Brawl" that happened between Jason "Mayhem" Miller and the whole Cesar Gracie camp during Jake Shields’ post-fight interview. I honestly didn’t believe that it was going to turn into "Brawl-Gate 2010" and take up almost all the Strikeforce: Nashville aftermath and the WEC 48 pre-fight build up. It’s not like professional athletes fighting during a sporting event is something new. Shall I dare to mention the Detroit Pistons – Indiana Pacers melee from 2004? Or mention that the benches clear every few weeks during Major League Baseball games? How about the inevitable shoving matches that occur during boxing press conferences (look no further than Mosley and Mayweather exchanging shoves during their press conference a few months ago). Brawls, one way or another, are a part of sports and will continue to be as long as there is a thing called testosterone in men. They are unavoidable so, I can’t figure out why people are getting so up in arms about a scuffle that happened after a fight (what we really should be mad about is how bad the "brawl" was considering it was between professional fighters). I mean, whether the "Brawl" was staged or not, it ended up serving the exact purpose it was suppose to. It evoked emotion, good and bad, from the fans and media alike. It caused journalists and bloggers to write countless articles about it and made numerous fans search endlessly for days for new columns about what happened and the fallout effects. Your emotions about what happened caused all these outbursts afterwards. After all, emotion is the reason we love sports and the reason we will always be loyal to them.
Before I go any further, I wanted to put something out there to avoid any controversy later. What I am about to say isn’t an idea I thought up, but it is something that made me change the way I view sports and MMA. It’s actually something ESPN Radio talk show host and Sportsnation host Colin Cowherd says on a daily basis, "Strip emotion out of it".
Professional sports’, in general, main job is to induce some type of emotion from you. It is what keeps you watching day after day like heroin for a junkie. It’s the reason you check sports websites constantly for updates, have 17 different fantasy football teams and vow never to follow your hometown team again after a bonehead trade only to be right there in front of your TV the next week when the new trade works out. Emotion is what keeps you involved. This same rule applies to MMA, maybe even more so than any other sport. Take Brock Lesnar for example. Other than Dana White, Lesnar is probably the most polarizing figure in all of MMA. You either love him or hate him and the UFC doesn’t care which. Most people that tune in to watch Lesnar fight like him and wants to see him destroy is opponent or hate him and want see him get knocked out. One way or another, the UFC has your business. What they don’t want is for you to look at Brock Lesnar and feel nothing. If you have no opinion or emotion about him, you are most likely not going to by a PPV he is main event-ing. This is the main reason behind low PPV numbers for events. People don’t care about whose fighting therefore don’t buy the event (i.e. – Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva). If it doesn’t provoke an emotion, it won’t cause you to PPV buy.
So, what is my point to all of this? Simple. Next time you get all riled up about something that happens during a sporting event, particularly an MMA event, remember that getting all riled up is exactly what they want from you. Strip your emotion out of it and take a moment to think about what occurred and look at it in terms of "looking at the whole map". Did what occur actually effect anything? No is the right answer 95% of the time. For instance, the Strikeforce: Nashville "Brawl". Did it really hurt MMA? Not at all. Sure, it got some negative coverage in the mainstream media like on CNN and Jim Rome Is Burning, but years from now, no one is going to remember that it happened and we are going to see that it didn’t hurt the progress of the sport at all. The only reason it is making a ripple right now is because MMA news organizations know that it is going to drive traffic because of the emotions behind what occurred. This is the reason why articles were written about how the brawl is a black eye for the sport or is going to single handedly kill Strikeforce (low ratings is going to be the reason Strikeforce collapses, not the brawl) when in fact, it probably won’t even be remembered by this time next year. So next time something like the "brawl" happens, strip emotion out of it and move on with your life. I guarantee you will be happier and enjoy MMA (and all sports) a lot more from now on.