We live in a bubble. Dana White has stated this on more than one occasion, most recently when speaking to Ariel Helwani after UFC 139. His biggest hurdle in promoting MMA has always been education. Not another promotion, contract disputes, or poor fights. The Fertittas and Dana had large scale visions of where they wanted to take the UFC and MMA. Their biggest obstacle has historically been acceptance. Even today, we can see their struggle against New York as a prime example.
Today, I got a taste of that bubble we live in. You see, all my core friends are into MMA. And if you happen to date one of us – welcome to MMA too. You have no choice but to sit with us twenty times a year when we gather to watch two fighters engage in a cage.
I was in Caesar’s Palace Atlantic City for Bellator 59.
Necessary back story: I was in New Jersey for a family reunion and when we decided to venture to Casesar’s Palace for dinner, a show, and some gambling. My family knows I’m into combat sports so they mentioned to me that there is a boxing match in house – I look up and see Bellator 59 playing on the TV sets on the casino floor. And after walking for a bit we actually stumbled upon the fight venue in the casino.
Bellator was held in Palladium Ballroom B. Translation: It was held in a hall. Not the main performance area/stage, but a hall. The only thing separating me from "the arena" was a half-open double door. I could see the entire "arena" from where I was standing 20 feet away. Basically, it was held in hall meant for a medium sized wedding or bar mitzvah. There was a small food concession stand in the ‘lobby’. A small one-man Bellator t-shirt stand. A couple of security guards and ushers collecting tickets at a podium next to the door. And a couple of trainers and fighters walking around the lobby talking to friends. One dude (not sure which fighter, although he looked like bootleg Chuck Liddell) was walking around post-fight buying popcorn….while still wearing the hand-wraps that were signed by the commission!
Anyway, to bring you up to speed. It was one die-hard fan [me] surrounded by four uneducated baby boomers and three partially-but-not-really educated Gen X’ers. I’m aware that I’m the only person into MMA so as to not drag seven people with me, I pay no attention to it, even though I really want to.
Apparently, everyone was mesmerized by the fight, but neither in the good or the bad kind. Just…mesmerized…..And then came the comments and questions and I realized how uneducated the average person really is and how small our little MMA bubble truly is. You can imagine my surprise as to some of the things that I heard and/or was asked. Here is but a taste…
Types of questions asked:
How do you score points?
Is this UFC?
But how do you score points?
So it’s 8 rounds?
There are no rules
They’re killing each other
They’re just lying there
They’re not doing anything
A submission is where they tap because of pain
The gloves are padded to protect against blood
It’s like the movie Bloodsport [maybe this comment isn’t so bad]
In conclusion, I think MMA fans need to do one of three things when confronting non MMA fans
1) Take the time to properly explain it
2) Ignore it and realize that it's not for everyone
3) Get all Jean Claude Van Dame on their asses