In my years as an avid MMA fan, I’ve been lucky enough to attend two live UFC events. With that said, I’ve only attended two live events. I’m a young guy; my friends like watching MMA, and I love drinking beer. So where does that leave me? Spending anywhere from 6 to 15 or more hours per month sitting in a bar, usually craning my neck staring at a flat screen TV, either sipping or slamming an adult beverage.
The past several years spent watching UFC events in bars have been glorious. I love the atmosphere and I love those Saturday nights. With this experience, I’ve become accustomed to seeing the same little slices of fandom, almost entirely regardless of the bar. Without further ado, the following are the people or groups that I (and, I’m assuming, most BE readers) typically observe in their natural, violence-lusting, habitat.
About half of the time, I’d count myself among this illustrious pack. Their presence in the bar is understated, as they’re more interested in seeing how Rousimar Palhares finishes his heel-hook than the shot girls. These gentlemen arrive early, assuring a comfortable seat for 100% of the action, from a preliminary fight between recent TUF failouts to the main event title clash.
Since Hardcores are more interested in fighting than socializing, they might be happy to sip on a total of three dark beers over the course of the night (this is where I typically depart). Sitting in the corner table in near silence during the action, Hardcores often train in some way. Be on the lookout for mangled cauliflower ears. Unlike the Fanboys (discussed below), you’re unlikely to catch a Hardcore rocking any t-shirt with jewels, skulls, or fiery graphics on both the back and the sleeves. If you look closely, you might spot a Hardcore sporting Chute Boxe classic T, or maybe a Korean Zombie shirt.
Hardcores rarely, if ever, approach others, unless they too are Hardcores and can so be easily identified. Often a part of the Hardcore clan is the Tagalong Girlfriend (see below).
While the name may sound insulting, there is nothing to be ashamed of if you’re a Fanboy. In fact, I would definitely consider myself part-Fanboy. Fanboys keep the UFC in business. Fanboys are rabid for violence, but exhibit a deep understanding of MMA, and love to talk about it. Fanboys cannot wait to share with their non-Fanboy or Hardcore friends the details of a fighter’s style ("Aldo has SICK leg kicks!") and like cheering for or against individual fighters ("I can’t wait to see Bisping get his ass kicked!"). Fanboys watch TUF, read Sherdog, MMAJunkie, and BloodyElbow.
The key difference between Fanboys and Hardcores is the level of expressive fandom. Whereas Hardcores take in the watching experience passively, keying in on specific techniques, Fanboys actively engage themselves in the PPV broadcast. Fanboys yell at the screens. Fanboys hug their buddies when their chosen fighter wins, and scream in despair if said fighter loses. To keep this high level of intensity for the entire PPV, Fanboys must drink, and they must drink heavily. While a Hardcore may be distracted by alcohol, Fanboys use it to their advantage, thriving off the unnatural bravery. Often sporting a fresh Tapout T-shirt, a typical Fanboy truly does make the watching experience at a bar fun. For that reason, he is a crucial part of the bar ecosystem.
Fanboys are very likely to be seen among Tagalong Girlfriends, Trophy Girlfriends, or even Lost Drunk Girls (see below). They are sociable and the life of the party.
Generic Fightfans make it out to several PPVs a year, and simply cannot wait for another Brock Lesnar fight. They don’t have an intricate understanding of MMA or the ground game, but could care less, they’re "here to see somebody get knocked the f*** out!" This group appreciates aggression in any aspect of the fight, but is often confused by certain aspects of the sport ("Why are Anderson Silva’s shorts so tight?" "Why did he tap?").
For all their excitement, Generic Fightfans can be fickle. A PPV with few finishes can have these gentlemen bored, left to aimlessly check Facebook on their phones or drown themselves in whatever beer is on special. Generic Fightfans can range from near silent (to maintain masculinity at all times) to talkative as schoolgirls. Typically, these gentlemen will refrain from hitting on girls, as that landscape is pretty well dominated by Fanboys and Lost Drunk Dudes (see below). When telling their coworkers or friends about the fights, they’ll be able to explain that "The black guy won."
Lost Drunk Dudes
Lost Drunk Dudes are utterly confused as to why the bar is so crowded, but are pleased to see that "Ultimate Fighting" is on the screen. In all honesty, though, roughly 80% of the Lost Drunk Dude’s time is spent wandering the bar, whiskey-coke in hand, looking for his friends or just staring at the wall. When the Lost Drunk Dude does look up to the screen, any landed strike will elicit an excited (but often sarcastic) "OHHH!!" Common ground positions, such as guard or mount, will bring out an exact opposite reaction, such as "Dude what the hell?"
To Hardcores, Lost Drunk Dudes are more or less invisible. They are background scenery, reminding them that there is life outside of MMA. To their credit, Lost Drunk Dudes are often sociable, and can be the life of the party, often joining glorious inebriated forces with Fanboys. While Fanboys may ensure that the bar experience is fun, strategically placed Lost Drunk Dudes throughout the bar can really put the fun over-the-top. Lost Drunk Dudes are friendly, funny, and supply endless amount of entertainment aside from the fights.
Lost Drunk Dudes may be found alongside Lost Drunk Girls, or even Tagalong Girlfriends, of the drunk variety. While many BE readers may outwardly disdain Lost Drunk Dudes, they must admit, they are necessary part of the bar ecosystem.
Tagalong Girlfriends are almost always entirely disinterested in the fights (unless GSP is fighting). They cringe when a fighter is knocked unconscious or a limb is placed in a precarious position. For Tagalong Girlfriends, a smartphone with a good battery-life is her savior. This is particularly the case for Tagalong Girlfriends that accompany a Hardcore. Tagalong Girlfriends that are with Fanboys are slightly more sociable, but simultaneously more incredulous to their counterpart’s behavior.
Tagalong Girlfriends are not typically at the fights to have fun; they are there because they had nothing else to do for the night, or in some extreme cases, in an attempt to show their boyfriend that she is interested in "his fighting stuff." (I've been there) Accordingly, Tagalong Girlfriends are relatively introverted, sticking to their own group and if at all possible, closely attached to another Tagalong Girlfriend.
With low cut shirts and short skirts, Trophy Girlfriends often feign interest in the fights, but ultimately lose interest after one-too-many vodka-cranberries. Their makeup often rivals Snookie’s. Trophy Girlfiends may often be disgusted by certain aspects of MMA, but ultimately are too nervous to express their concerns due to fright that they could lose the coveted spot of Trophy Girlfriend. In an atmosphere that is dominated by testosterone, Trophy Girlfriends recognize their own objectification, and typically allow it to continue.
Lost Drunk Girls
Lost Drunk Girls are perhaps my favorite element of the bar ecosystem. The female version of Lost Drunk Dudes, these girls are entirely disinterested in the action on the flatscreens. Tagalong Girlfriends, Trophy Girlfriends, and many Hardcores may resent Lost Drunk Girls for a variety of reasons, but how can Lost Drunk Girls be blamed? They may have wandered into the bar for a wide range of reasons: "OMG my work had a bar crawl today!" or "OMG we had a sorority reunion today!" or "OMG what’s your name?"
While Lost Drunk Girls may come in all different shapes and sizes, wearing all types of clothing, they are easy to spot by the trained eye. Fanboys and Lost Drunk Dudes often approach these girls, with varying degrees of success. To the readers of BE, I implore you: don’t forget to show the Lost Drunk Girls some love.
There you have it, my cross-section of the bar population at a UFC PPV viewing. What groups did I miss? Let me know.
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