When it comes to fans, MMA has a devoted, oft times crazed base of supporters. Analyzing every nuance and detail from every angle of every facet of a fight, keeping abreast of current affairs, both in organizational infrastructure and in the athletes' personal lives, following news media sites and Twitter feeds, forever scanning for the next nugget of gold is commonplace. Every sport has that same type fan base, however, every sport isn't still in it's formative years, which means easier access to it's athletes. It's a common thing to see fighters routinely engaging with the fan populace on Twitter, Facebook and in forums.
The fans make the sport. They shell out their hard earned money for tickets to live events, merchandise, and PPV events. They devote countless hours to their gyms in an effort to learn techniques and disciplines. They are the life blood. When you take all of that into consideration, and weigh it against the price the athlete pays, stepping into the cage or ring, offering up their physical well-being in a contest of strength, endurance, technique and skill, expending countless hours and financial resources on training to be the best fighter they can be, you have to wonder, just how much do the fighters owe to their fan base?
UFC flyweight contender, Ian McCall has a simple answer for that question. Everything. For him, it's absolutely important to try to respond to all of his fans, both online and in person. To give them the courtesy of a response on the social media sites, or an autograph when asked. Most importantly to him, is that he go into the octagon and go balls to the wall, in an effort to put on the best fight he can. Recently, he spoke with me about why he feels the fans come first.
You have Demetrious who finally put on his first, really impressive performance, as far as from the fan's point of view. He was exciting, he was chasing after it, and he finally did his job in a manner where the fans liked it. He doesn't really come off as a people person. I don't know, he's so nice, but at the same time, he's just so boring and dull that people aren't connecting with him very well. I've always been the first person to say that he's a lot nicer in person than I am. He's a great guy. Him and his wife are really nice people. I just think it's going to take either me or Joe (Benavidez) to go out there and beat him up and then make the world happy [laughs].
Obviously, the fans are the ones that pay my bills. They're the reason I have a job and get paid the amount of money that I do. I'm here to put my life on the line. That is not my favorite way of people thinking, and people shouldn't fight just enough to get a win, but then you will always have the George St. Pierres and the Demetrious Johnsons. I read a lot of Japanese samurai literature, so my theory is engage in combat, fully determined to die, and you will be alive. It's a balancing act. You have to be technical, you have to be exciting, but you have to win your fights. There is a happy medium. You can do it all. I don't fight to play it safe. I fight to hurt my opponent as badly as possible without going to jail.