I've been reading message boards and listening to MMA talking heads, fans, UFC fans (yes they are their own category), "fans" (people who think that MMA started 3 years ago), commentators, and other fighters. I've watched my share of combat sports (Dream, Sengoku, K-1, Its Showtime, Sharkfights, Bellator, WEC, PRIDE, Pancrase, Elite XC, Titan FC, and yes even UFC). I may not be able to remember all the names, all the faces, all the matches, but I've seen a shit load of them.
Lately something has been bothering me and I haven't been able to really pinpoint what the catalyst was. Here is what bothered me. Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko was undefeated in 9 years of MMA, and that wasn't fighting once a year, in his career he's fought 36 times on a professional level. He is pretty much a god of combat sambo (look it up noob). Fedor has been doing this a while, so why are there so many haters? Why are so many angry people slinging shit when you bring up his name? I had a pretty had time figuring this out, and believe me I had to dig for an answer that wasn't "well, people hate on Fedor because they are dumb" or something probably closer to the truth would be "people don't like Fedor because he never fought in the UFC." That last thought there got me thinking, I scanned boards, read articles, read (horrible) web sites. I did actual f'n research on this, because it did bother me.
You may be asking yourself why it bothered me. Well, it didn't bother me in that depressing way, it more bothered me because I didn't understand on a fundamental level how anyone could look at the guys career and not be blown away...or instead of being blown away, just hating on the guy.
So what I'm thinking is that people dont like Fedor because he was the guy who ruled the world before they had a guy to cheer for, before they followed MMA, before they saw their first UFC fight (mine was in the single digits, think it was 3 or 4, and no thats not BS), before they knew what they were watching. Fedor was the man, and they didn't know it, so they built up their following, they found guys to cheer for and then one day someone put out a magazine article or a web posting and in the #1 slot was some guy they'd never heard of or had ever seen fight. Its like listening to music, finding a favorite band, then in 2 years finding out that there is a band that does the same thing but better. This is when Loyalty kicks in, this is when all the fights you have seen are better than all the fights you haven't. All the fighters you know are way better than those nobody fighters you dont know, because if they were any good you'd have heard of them. How can Fedor Emelianenko be better than Randy Couture or Tito Ortiz or Brock Lesnar? I'm sure these same people hear the name Bas Rutten and either think of the bald guy doing commentary or highlights and never knew he actually knows what he is talking about. These are the same people that think of Ken Shamrock and visualize him in the WWF/WWE/whatever. The hatred for Fedor seems to stem from a deep seeded loyalty to their fighters, and for most MMA fans in North America all they know of MMA is what Dangerous Dana White and the Zuffa Connection sells them. The UFC turned MMA into a business, not a sport. They took the Vince McMahon approach to competition and marketing and sold the American public their version of MMA, and it thrived. People love combat sports, always have, and the UFC was putting on the only show in town. So when fans were being created around UFC 50 and saw Rich Franklin and Frank Trigg and Tito Ortiz and a young GSP, those were the guys they were running with. Those were your guys and the UFC was their flag.
What those fans couldn't accept was that there was any other form of MMA out there. That other organizations other than UFC existed or even had viable talent. Who is this "CroCop" you speak of? PRIDE...whats that? And its understandable, as the UFC took a more American Pro Wrestling stand on how they produced shows (not that they were fixing them, just in how they showed them) in Japan they took a very Japanese Pro Wrestling look, which was all in the match making. The UFC was taking pages from boxing and creating weight classes that were concrete, a middleweight would never fight a light heavyweight in a catchweight fight. In Japan it was all about who the best guys were, and weight classes were more of a category for keeping track of who was what and when and where.
When the UFC fans gained access to footage of all these fighters they'd never heard off via the internet the natural fight-or-flight response was "eh, they can't be that good I've never heard of anyone they've beaten" and that was that. 9 undefeated years and Fedor isn't that good because he never went to the UFC, he never fought anyone under the UFC banner, he did beat 2 guys who went on to stardom in the UFC but *sweeping under rug* he never beat anyone here. Its the same loyalty people have to Football teams, or Hockey teams, or bands, good restaurants, bars, clothing, its a loyalty that says "I was here first, I was a fan from day 1 and even if you aren't a fan you are the enemy" its "I was a fan before you so even though we are the same my fandom is more powerful than yours." Thats great and all but, why? Why hate on Fedor? He is on a 3 fight losing streak, the first 3 loses of his career and just suffering his first KO loss, how is this validation to the people saying he isn't a great fighter? And the answer is that those 9 years of victory happened before they cared so in all honesty they don't exist.
The best comparison I can come up with would be Metallica, who put out 4 amazing albums (if you don't know: Kill 'em All; Ride The Lightning; Master of Puppets; and ...And Justice For All) and then put out the Black Album and became the biggest band of the early 90's. To some people they never heard of Metallica before Enter Sandman and Sad But True, so that album and those that have followed are what they based their fandom on, they flew that Black Album flag. When you talk to them they agree that the first 4 albums are good but will never accept the fact that the Black Album, Load, Reload, St. Anger and Death Magnetic are all shit by comparison. They may not like an album, usually St. Anger, I don't think anyone liked that, but they dont have the same appreciation for the first 4.
The same story can be said for fans of anything, Stephen King fans love his older works but not his newer stuff. Star Wars fans who saw the first three and that was all they knew hate (HATE!!!!) the "prequels" of the series. Fans of different sports teams all pine for the days of old when the team was better and the players were better. This is how things work.
I had seen this as a simple hate on Fedor, but it wasn't, it was a hate on the old guard, a hate on the things that were there before. I'm not saying its good or bad, right or wrong (wrong, thats what I'm saying really, its wrong and all you Fedor haters are wrong because you dont know what the fuck you are talking about, noob NOOOOOOOB!!!) (sorry). I understand now why so many people just hurl bad vibes at the guy and his career, because all they have seen of the guy is 2 wins and 3 loses and you can't call anyone who is 2-3 the greatest of all time. Yet these are the people who crowned Brock Lesnar the greatest fighter on the planet after 3 fights. I'm sure this can all be taken as hating on UFC or fans that haven't watched as long as I have, but its not. Its more of a rant against the fans who refuse to accept that there was MMA long before they flipped on UFC 99.
And for anyone who doesn't think so, I believe there is a building full of Gracies who have something to show you, bring a wheelchair.
I'm the 100 Watt Warlock and this gogoplata smells a little ripe.