Roundtable Discussion: What are you tired of in MMA?

Airing out our grievances with today's MMA in a Roundtable Discussion in the best way we can: Festivus-style. Unfortunately, we can't do any feats of strength online, so it's just the grievances and waiting for the miracles. Read to find the opinions of the Bloody Elbow writers on today's MMA problems.

Ben Thapa: Most of us here at Bloody Elbow have followed MMA and other combat sports for years. What are you flat out losing patience with or no longer have your metaphorical heart rate jump to as MMA fans?

Zane Simon: The biggest thing that I'm losing patience for is MMA reality television. I honestly cannot pull together even a little interest to watch Fight Master. I know I'll be watching TUF 18 because my wife wants to, but I really can't make myself care. TUF Brazil 2 was the tipping point, and I didn't even watch it. It's gotten to the stage now, that not only has the concept of fighting your way into the big leagues gone completely stale, but fighters aren't even getting that shot anymore. With Fight Master these guys are competing to be one of eight fighters in a future tournament. It's watching a group of fighters play a tired game that everyone loses.

For the UFC, not only did they give almost no one an opportunity to fight in the promotion after the TUF Brazil 2 show (which has more or less been their trend, excepting TUF 17), but it's becoming more and more obvious that the grand contract is almost a career death sentence. The lucky fighter who gets the full ten fights at 10,000 per-fight essentially means that that fighter has to win a title sometime within those ten fights or he or she will be drastically underpaid for years (if even kept on the roster for the whole thing). This dead end just makes watching it all, or giving it any attention seem like an utterly futile experience.

Tim Burke: Fight Master is actually pretty decent. I was really surprised.

Mookie Alexander: I am really tired of the UFC's micromanaged and carefully crafted way of producing TV broadcasts regarding the hyped presentation of fighters. It's an insult to the intelligent MMA fan and a disservice to casuals who are just trying to get into the sport.

Fighters should not always have "gritty battles" as Mike Goldberg states. They have losses, and occasionally blowout wins. Boxing survives just fine on Showtime when they give you a "notable wins and losses" graphic. In two separate shows the UFC commentators said Tim Means and Jake Shields went on "hiatus". Uhhhhh, that would respectively mean going to prison and failing a drug test, the latter of which happened while under UFC contract. Could you imagine a professional sports organization doing that on national TV? I don't think Jim Nantz would tell me that Pacman Jones took a "brief leave of absence" before returning to the NFL. This coincides with Dana White's particular distaste for MMA media and anything that entails negative reporting of the UFC or their fighters.

They blur the line from P4P champion to a preliminary card regular to the point where they make it seem like Cain Velasquez and a Jack Russell Terrier are not worlds apart in terms of fighting ability. I can just hear Joe Rogan saying "Cain Velasquez has never fought someone who has the tenacity of a Jack Russell Terrier. Rusty has K-9 level striking, etc."

If the UFC (and other MMA organizations) want to improve the quality of the sport, then improve the quality of the broadcasts. It is okay to be honest and be upfront. Do not shelter the public from important facts. Stop selling everyone as a killer and maybe you won't have people thinking Che Mills is an elite, elite monster.

Zane Simon: One of my favorite parts of watching European soccer broadcasts is how brutally honest they are about calling games. I'm not watching a Premier League game between Man U and Sunderland and being told how Sunderland really has a chance to pull out the big win here. By the half, I've likely heard the commentators tell me that it's been a pretty poor match, not competitive at all, and there's really not a lot of reason to watch it. And I love that - and I still watch it because I want to watch the athletes perform.

But I don't need to be lied to in order to make that happen. American sports in general are guilty of this, but Mookie's right, the UFC seems to be slipping into an unprecedented malaise of telling fans that all fighters are of the exact same awesome quality. And what's worse is that I think that this is trickling over to fans who suddenly believe that every potential match-up against a great fighter could be an upset in the making.

Also, Tim, that's my point, I don't really care how good Fight Master is at this point - I can't seem to make myself watch it.

Tim Burke: I have no problem with the way the UFC produces their shows. Do they play up positives and ignore negatives? Of course. But they're not the NFL. There's no score. And you pay to watch. They sell their product because they need fans to keep coming back for more with their wallets. And they handle their own production, so that's how it works. Boxing is exactly the same way. When a guy changes promoters, the network that talked him up for years is crapping all over him all of a sudden. I'm not sure how boxing announcing is more honest than MMA announcing. It just isn't.

As for things in MMA that do bother me, I could go on all day. This week, it's probably ticket prices. The UFC isn't compensating for how their market has leveled out lately, and they're still massively overcharging for tickets. You can't go to new places forever. I predict that UFC 165 is Toronto is going to bomb at the gate, for example.

Fraser Coffeen: The production and dishonesty issue is a big one for me as well, but rather than just say "Yeah, me too," I'll offer a new one - one that I'm surprised hasn't come up yet: Injuries.

Injuries are ridiculous and out of control. It's come to a point where, when a big fight is announced, people stop themselves from getting too excited about it because they know there's a decent chance the fight won't end up happening. And while some might want to say "Well, they're injuries, they happen, and there's nothing to be done," I don't buy that. Look at any clip of guys training and you see ridiculous stuff - stuff that could very easily result in an injury. (Quick example, watch that Timothy Bradley/Cub Swanson piece from last week - Cub's vertical jump to standing on a balance ball on one leg is a torn ACL waiting to happen).

Camps are all training HARD these days, but they're not training SMART, and the result is a ridiculous rise in injuries. The end result is stupid, frustrating things like people coming off of a loss getting a title shot just because they're healthy or the entirety of UFC 161. It's an issue that has to be addressed, and it's only the camps that can address it, but right now, they're just not.

Ben Thapa: What gets me is the uncreative and deeply stupid insults fighters and even managers and promoters will try to throw out there. Putting on an act is a key part of the fight business and always will be-but that doesn't mean it has to be face-palm stupid, insult minorities and women or get negative mainstream attention.

The most memorable insults, call outs or fighter-defining moments in MMA history came as the result of whimsy, creativity and sheer catchiness. BJ Penn being called a sperm in Brazilian fashion. Little Nog feeding carrots to a bus. Asking where Georges was at. The Jorge Rivera/Bisping song. Pat Barry and Cro Cop rocking out to Bon Jovi in a car.

Nobody remembers a fighter calling another a "bitch" or going on about not respecting the other fighter. Audiences tune that out. But fighters like King Mo or managers like Mike Kogan will still fall back on that, defend their ability to keep using words that don't belong in the mouths of any professionals or try to go after family of fighters and even media members.

These people do this because they refuse to get creative or see a better way to drum up interest. What's going to get attention more - calling someone a bitch over nonsense or someone telling the absolute truth in hilarious fashion about Floyd Mayweather and double legs?

That shirking of the professional responsibility to better sell the fight and to get creative like Renzo, Pat or Chael leads to a boring and deeply offensive sameness that assumes fight fans just want to hear this stuff over and over again. At least try to rip/emulate/give tribute to the best from the past like Josh Barnett or Chael have done. It worked back then, and it'll work now with some adaptation.

I don't want to hear this incredibly lame stuff at all, and I think we fight fans reward those who give us the different stuff - well, except for Jacob Volkmann.

Zombie Prophet: One of the things that has been bothering me more as of late is all these referees making very critical errors in handling fights and stoppages. Some future errors could kill someone or leave him in a chair forever. Our sport would be sent back to the stone age if someone dies on a UFC PPV or Fox.

I feel that there should be penalties for bad referees just like there would be if a promoter or fighter broke a rule in the lead-up, fight and post-fight period. In short, the referees need better training and the commissions need to actually track and hold the refs accountable for their actions.

David Castillo: This is an easy one: MMA "culture".

I haven't started writing this month's postscript, but after starting it in April, every month has been marred by some professional fighter using the oxygen of publicity to say something dumb and offensive. In April, it was Mitrione. In May, it was Nate Diaz. This month, the half-wit award went to Josh Thomson for a comical refutation of gay marriage. For once, Dana White was wholly reasonable in saying that Josh should "leave the talking to smart people".

It would be one thing if the headlines ended at "professional athlete's musings resemble mumbling Alzheimer's patient with sheet over head," but they don't. Instead, excuses are made, promoters explain it away as "this is the fight business," and MMA fans complain that "political correctness" is at fault.

To borrow from one of our denizens (Disco Platypus) "pointing out Josh Thompson's idiocy has nothing to do with political correctness, only intellectual and philosophical correctness." Unfortunately, MMA culture seems inspired by a rejection of this philosophical correctness, where a philosophy of "stupidity begets business growth and prejudice begets fight theater".

Dallas Winston: I'm sick of fighters being warned for grabbing the fence every time their hand even approaches the cage. It's legal to put your hand on it. It's legal to put your fingers through the mesh. It's only a foul when they grasp the mesh with fingers or toes.

I've seen referees bark out "don't grab the fence!" when a fighter palms the cage while defending a takedown, with no fingers through, i.e. a perfectly legal action, and the fighter obeys the command and subsequently gets put on his back because of it. Then a fighter will blatantly lace his fingers through the cage and use it to his advantage, multiple times, and the penalty is being berated with a series of "don't grab the fence!" cries. It's punishing those who know and actually follow the rules.

I'm sick of everyone accepting the fact that it's OK not to follow certain rules. 10-10 rounds are clearly spelled out in the rules, yet the enforcement and, worse, instruction for the up-and-coming generation is basically to avoid them at all costs.

A definition of a 10-10 round is "when both contestants appear to be fighting evenly and neither contestant shows dominance in a round." How often do we see a close round like that? And now how does that number compare to how many 10-10 rounds are scored? It's ridiculous. Anyone and everyone who refuses to score a 10-10 round is intentionally not following the rules.

Not only is it unfair to whatever fighter is on the wrong end of the coin flip, but the excitement will naturally increase because the fighters would know that they can't just go out and perform a set of lucrative feats to win a third of the fight, but, rather, they'd be properly motivated to tear into their opponent and out-fight him. An unsettling amount of people still insists that 5 minutes of pretty even fighting is or should be rare, and that's pure insanity, because it's f----ing common.

I'm sick of people hating on Bellator, World Series of Fighting, WAR, etc. What the hell am I missing that's so exciting on television? There's only one thing I'd rather watch instead: a UFC card.

Anton Tabuena: I'm sick of all the politics preventing quality fighters from fighting. It's not just Eddie Alvarez on ice. There are just too many fighters getting frozen and stuck in a long hiatus all over North America, Europe and in Asia.

May it be due to contract issues, rivalries between promotions, or even straight up dirty politics, I'm just tired of seeing guys unable to fight because of relatively petty things.

A lot of these guys won't be like Eddie Alvarez who gets paid handsomely regardless of what happens. You hear about all these horror stories of fighters being on frozen contracts for reasons varying from nasty politics down to the most mundane things. Guys get stuck because of feuding organizations. They get stuck because they won't give in to strong arm tactics to take smaller purses than what's contracted. They get stuck simply because of the friends they're associated with. Hell, you even hear about guys stuck simply because an influential figure doesn't like you and your personality.

I can go on and on, but I guess you already get the point. Some of this is unavoidable, while most is just downright silly and should be gone from the sport. Regardless, I'm just sick of seeing non-MMA factors decide the fate of these talented fighters which not only prevents them from achieving their full potential, but actually prevents them from making a living.

KJ Gould: Dana White comparing fighters spending a ton of money to train and get to fight in the UFC to spending a lot of money to study at college hasn't sat right with me since he said it. The UFC is meant to be the "dream job" that you beeline for once you graduate college or skip college for, not three years of paying $30k of expenses before making it there. The dues ideally are paid on smaller regional shows and being in the UFC should indicate you've made it to the highest level and can support yourself.

This prevents genuine talents or prospects from developing their talents fully and leads to the watering down of their own product. The bout order on cards also irritates when good fighters more deserving of exposure are put on prelims, while TUF cast offs or generally bad fighter that are only"exciting" in their own sloppy, ugly way get a better spotlight. Anderson Silva's next challenger was last fighting on Fuel for a number one contender bout, which is pretty unforgivable. Because of that, the UFC has had to go into overdrive to sell Weidman as a legit opponent. They wouldn't have to work so hard had Weidman destroyed Munoz on Fox or even FX and maybe could have had more Weidman-types if they paid more.

I welcome the community to talk about this and list their own grievances, Festivus-style. Try to keep it to a small number or package and the more entertaining the rant, the better.

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