After some debates about Chael Sonnen´s latest acclaimed "masterpiece-troll-job" involving brazilian MMA fighters, MMA fans and some parts of brazilian culture in general, I decided to give my insights on the situation.
Let me start out by saying that I´m not the proudest brazilian that you will find out there. As a matter of fact, sometimes I´m ashamed to be one, given some aspects of the brazilian way of life called here the "jeitinho brasileiro". In short, it´s the way brazilians tries to take shady advantages in everything, since simple things as cutting in lines, to personal relationships to politics. That kind of behavior in my opinion, is the curse of this nation because affects everything.
But let´s get back to the point. Chael Sonnen vs. Brazil.
One of the very few things that brazilians were always proud of is sports. Our soccer national team was always – not lately though – the point of reference for excellence in soccer. Then volleyball. Then some scattered great results in women´s basketball and in random sports (F1 racing, tennis, swimming, judo) and then MMA. It´s important to note that MMA is far behind in therms of popularity, mainly because it´s not covered by any of the major TV networks around here. We have one not very popular network that covers it, a cable TV channel that does a good job covering it, and one dedicated PPV channel that has daily MMA and fighting programming, including all of the UFC´s shows.
But one thing that is common in all sports that Brazil has or not some kind of relevance is the respect for the opposing team/player. Let me clear that out: On the weeks prior to major sports events, it´s very rare that you will see brazilians dissing and disrespecting their opponents, their teams or countries. And even if that happens, it´s far from the way Chael does. Yes sometimes we do some disrespectful things during games and fights, but I personally think that´s that is the so called "I/we do my/our talking on the field/court/track/cage".
Even when major rivalries are on (Brazil vs. Argentina in all sports, for example or even in the national soccer classics), it´s very rare that you will see brazilian players going on television disrespecting the other team or country prior to the event – although there is a lot of dissing in soccer, for example, when a team is celebrating a goal, which sort of leads to the "talking on the field" point.
Notice that I´m talking about the athletes not the fans here, because contradicting to the athletes behavior we have some fans that are real criminals and barbarians, specially in soccer, that can go from insulting to assaulting or even slaughtering in a matter of seconds.
I know that some of you will say that Chael is playing a part, a gimmick or a kayfabe (I had to google that up). But we are not used to those kind of antics from athletes. We don´t have pro wrestling here. All of our most popular sports are "for real" – at least we are happy to accept that as a fact. That´s why Chael Sonnen (R) talks generates so much heat around these parts. And doesn´t help the fact that with some of his claims he is offending the country as a whole. Also doesn´t help that he is the first one that is doing so openly in MMA.
The point is: we don´t take that as a troll job.
To me there´s a more personal reason to explaing the hate, even though I recognize that he is playing a part. I really dislike him because in a lot of ways he remind me of brazilians politicians. Cheaters, liars that after doing a lot of wrong things always found a way to get out on top (I won´t lie, I was very satisfied with his demise since the UFC 117).
At the end of the day it´s silliness. Chael behavior to hype a fight is no worst than creating a Facebook page about his lynching – which I think it was very silly and that I didn´t RVSP´d even with all the hate that I nurture towards him. But I think that for most of the people that confirmed their presences in the "Chael Sonnen Lynching", his antics, so contrary to what we are used to, played a big part
With that in mind I was kind of irked when I saw Matthew Roth´s – and therefore BE – piece yesterday, kind of endorsing another one of Sonnen´s great troll job. It´s one thing to announce his latest claims as news, and it´s another thing to applaud him when there´s a big chance that he is offending a lot of people.
As I stated when I flagged Mathew´s piece, I know that this blog it´s not directed to the brazilian audience. But some of us come here specially because of BE´s high standard in MMA coverage and some of us works very diligently to help the community – yes, I´m looking at you Orcus. I also realize that it was a isolated episode, but nonetheless inappropriate.
But the main point of this post was to explaing why brazilians – me included – usually don´t take Sonnen´s antics lightly. Sorry if I extended myself to much.
PS. I took your apologies Matthew. No harm done here.