As a fan of nearly every competitive sport played in America (sorry Soccer), I appreciate greatness when I see it. Even though I am a diehard New York Jets fan, I watch Tom Brady and it is difficult to not be in awe of the excellence he displays week in and week out. As a basketball fan, I love to relax and watch LeBron James and other NBA stars light it up on a nightly basis. At his peak, it was a blast to watch Roger Federer ply his craft and simply be better than everyone else on the court. But for some reason, I can’t find that same appreciation in Combat Sports that I can in the traditional "stick and ball" sports.
I watch MMA for the excitement. The fights are unpredictable and almost always exciting. Unfortunately, I do not get pumped up to watch GSP fight. I know he is one of the greatest of this generation and possibly all time, but for some reason I just do not enjoy his fights. I love the buzz around the cards that he headlines, I love the fact that he draws in fans like few others do, but watching him perform is usually the part of the card that I dread the most. He is a very hard worker, great ambassador for the sport, and is one of the few guys that really can crossover and bring MMA and the UFC that mainstream appeal that fans and pundits alike have been coveting for years. And I don’t care.
I really have no stake in watching and rooting for MMA fights. Yes, I have my favorites and guys that I cheer for, but nothing compared to the way I root for home teams in traditional sports. MMA is sort of an escape from the pressures of being a sports fan, where I can just watch and have a great time. When GSP fights, I really don’t have a great time. I understand how great he is and can accept that he is near unbeatable at the top of his game, but he does not excite me like watching Tiger Woods on the 18th green at Augusta. I am not looking for "excellence in execution" during fights, I am looking for entertainment. And in nearly all of his fights since being the consensus best welterweight in the world, he has not delivered.
MMA fans are going to be very upset that GSP is out for a year and discuss how it is "bad for business" or that he is one of the few guys that "can carry a card alone." Personally, I don’t need GSP to carry a card because I will be watching the PPV no matter who is headlining (unless it’s Cro Cop v. Mir again). Do I feel bad for GSP that he is hurt and missing out on some of the most valuable fighting years of his life? Yes, it sucks. But as a fan, I look at the replacement fight between Diaz vs. Condit and can only get even more excited. That is going to be an excellent fight and one that I will be much more intrigued by than watching GSP fight. The UFC isn’t going anywhere whether GSP fights or not, and I am looking forward to the chaos that ensues in the Welterweight division now that GSP in on the shelf. And when he does comeback to fight, after what will probably be a near 2 year layoff, it will be exciting to see if he "still has it" or if injuries and time off will knock him off his perch atop the division. I hope he gets well soon and has a great career post injury, but I am not upset about missing out on any GSP fights in the near future.
** I would just like to add that I do not wish harm on anybody, especially fighters that go out and risk everything for my entertainment.