So it’s Wednesday, mid-way through the week and a couple of days removed from the UFC’s sophomore showing on the Fox network. And after a couple days reading, writing, and gathering perspective, I think I can safely say that most fans are crapping on this card like a malaria victim on an Exlax binge.
And yet I noticed something kind of strange. It seems like it a lot of cases, fans are complaining about one thing – but really mean something else entirely.
Yeah, I know that kind of makes MMA fans seem like b*tchy girls on their periods. But think about it – this is a group of fans who complain that Jon Jones is too “fake”, take every fighter missing weight as a personal insult, and judges a person’s entire character by how they come off on a reality show. Sometimes, we ARE like girls on their period
And right now, I have a feeling it’s “that time of the month”.
(Ed note: Judging by the early comments, some folks are a little ticked over the analogy I've just drawn here. I'm sorry guys. No really, I am. It was a stupid joke, and it wasn't even funny. Let me make it up to you - we'll watch Ryan Gosling movies all night while I give you back rubs, mmmkay?...Sorry, couldn't help myself. Be kind :p)
So, as a die-hard fight fan I’m here to help you understand what us fans are REALLY mad about when we complain about this latest Fox offering. Let’s start chronologically, shall we?
Maia vs. Weidman was too boring!
I don’t know who either of these guys are!
Yeah, I know I was one of the MMA “media” who complained about the Maia/Weidman fight right after it happened. I own that right here and now. In my defense, my distaste had two very solid reasons behind it:
1) I wanted a Jiu-Jitsu war for the ages to help introduce the Fox audience to the merits of sweaty, man on man hugging contests.
2) I bet $5 on Maia, and felt a right jerk for doing it.
But I’m not here to debate the meaning of “boring fight” since it doesn’t really matter. The reason most fans are PO’ed about this one is because they don’t really know who Demian Maia or Chris Weidman actually are. Put another way, there just isn’t enough fan interest in either of these guys for them to get away with a slow fight on network TV.
I know, I know, I can already hear you hardcores screaming to the high heavens that you know all about these guys, have followed their every move, have watched all Weidman’s wrestling tapes and personally licked the mat where Maia won his first ADCC medal. And good on ya.
But to most fans, this was “American guy I’ve never heard of” vs. “Brazilian opponent”. Or more accurately, “Guy who the TV tells me is a submission wizard” being scared to death of going to the mat, and “Guy who the TV tells me is an elite ‘All-American’ athlete” gassing faster than a Ford Falcon pulling a trailer of bricks up K2.
You replace Weidman with Brock Lesnar (rookie MMA’er with outstanding wrestling creds) and Maia with Big Nog (once-feared BJJ guy who hasn’t tapped anyone out in awhile) in the EXACT SAME FIGHT, and no one would make a peep. Well, except to say that Lesnar’s striking has REALLY improved, that is.
Sonnen vs. Bisping was too boring!
The cocky Brit didn’t get dominated by the mouthy American!
Simply put, the ‘Murican didn’t shut the cocky Brit up like we all thought he would! Boo! BOOOOOOO!
This fight wasn’t “boring” – or at least, wasn’t any more boring than Sonnen’s fights against Yushin Okami, Dan Miller, or Nate Marquardt. They all featured lots of clinch fighting, lots of takedowns and takedown attempts, and were mostly battles of position. I also hasten to point out that Bisping is coming off the dreadful fight with “Mayhem” Miller, and has a (mostly unjustified, but whatever) reputation as a decision machine himself.
So on paper, this fight didn’t exactly scream “excitement”.
Yet no one made a peep about this fight when it was announced. On the contrary, it was celebrated to the high heavens. People rejoiced in the UFC’s “good fortune” in having Mark Munoz get injured, and talked about how this fight “made the card even better.” This fight was celebrated and anticipated in every corner of the MMA world.
Why? Because the consensus opinion was that Chael Sonnen, the very embodiment of American braggadocio, was going to run right over Mike Bisping, the very embodiment of British wankerism. That was the gospel according to the MMA fan that Saturday night. They wanted Bisping vs. Hendo 2, only instead of a freak punch, it was going to be a painful, 3-round deconstruction from the man who brutalized Anderson Silva.
Well Sonnen won, but he certainly didn’t shut Bisping’s mouth. And that wasn’t the plan at all.
So again, this fight wasn’t that boring. The American audience just expected another “Bunker Hill moment” against the despised Brit. Instead, President Chael Washington almost didn’t make it across the Delaware.
Evans vs. Davis was too boring!
Rashad Evans, you fooled us again!
When it comes to Rashad Evans, here’s how the brain of the average MMA fan works:
1) “Rashad Evans is fighting! I HATE that guy!”
2) “…so I’ll tune in to watch him get his ass kicked!”
3) “That fight stunk! Evans is a lay n’ prayer/staller/point fighter/decision machine! Now I HATE Rashad even more!”
4) “Rashad Evans is fighting! I HATE that guy!”
Wash, rinse, repeat.
When he fought Thiago Silva, he put on one of the most roundly despised main events in UFC history. It was so bad, in fact, that over 1 million fans tuned into his next fight on PPV.
That fight was also one of the most roundly criticized main events in history. It was so bad, in fact, that Evans coasted on that win alone for over a year and a half on the shelf, while still being considered the #1 contender.
Then when he finally returned to the Octagon, fans hated him so much that more of them tuned into that fight (against a “one foot out the door” Tito Ortiz) than Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn, or either of the Frankie Edgar/Grey Maynard title fights – all of which were more exciting and relevant than Evans vs. Ortiz.
Face it folks: you’re just made because Rashad Evans tricked you all again. No matter how many of his fights get crapped on, he somehow still draws people, lots of people, in. What’s more, these people seemingly forget Rashad had ever been in a fight they hated when they sign up to get more. No one cared about Evans vs. Bisping when Evans vs. Liddell was announced. No one cared about Evans vs. Silva when Evans vs. “Rampage” was announced.
And no one will care about Evans vs. Davis when Evans vs. Jones is announced.
Rashad Evans was facing a bigger, stronger man who’s a better wrestler on paper than he is – and responded by dominating in the wrestling department, even getting a mounted crucifix twice in the fight. As far as striking went, he showed he was fast, mixes it up well, but doesn’t hit with nuclear power and isn’t the most diverse striker in the world. Like he’s always been.
Yet we all watched. We always will watch, no matter how much we claim to hate his living guts, or claim he’s “boring”. Kind of like how fans claim GSP is “killing” his career with his fighting style while his PPV and live gate numbers keep going up.
Rashad Evans is laughing right now – probably the reason you aren’t.
By Elton Hobson