Mixed martial arts has some of the most energetic, loyal and dedicated fans in all of sports. It also has some of the meanest, most spiteful, ill natured ones. Fighters often face a mixed bag with fan reaction, especially with the sport still in it's infancy. With the accessibility to the athletes via social networks, the atmosphere can sometimes be rife with hatred and contempt. It's easy to say, 'Aw, it's just some keyboard warrior in his mother's basement', but sometimes, those mean words can have a lot more staying power than one would think. They can leave an indelible fingerprint on one's psyche.
When someone is exceedingly rude and douchey to me, my first instinct is to strike back, but I've learned as I go along through life to kill them with kindness or ignore them. Not feeding the trolls really is the only way to fly these days. With the fighters constantly under a microscope, it's often easy to get caught up in a trash talking session on Twitter, but if you approach it the right way, you can not only win the battle, you can turn a meanie into a fan.
This is something that former UFC middleweight prospect Gerald Harris has been learning as he goes. Moonlighting as a comedian in his down time also keeps him well equipped to turn many a hater into a smiling fan. Recently, my co-host, Evan Shoman conducted a pretty awesome interview with Gerald, and got his take on a variety of topics including his new weight class, his opponent, Jorge Santiago, how he handles Hatey McHaters and why he will never engage in a street fight. Below is an excerpt of the article which you can read in it's entirety on HOV MMA.
ES: One of your former opponents has been getting into some trouble lately. Give us your thoughts on the recent video that surfaced of the Maiquel Falcão brawl.
GH: He's a vigilante! His life outside of the cage destroys his talent inside of the cage. Everyone knew he did crazy shit, even before he signed with the UFC. A lot of people don't know this... but he didn't pass his drug test before he fought me. He submitted non human pee. You didn't hear about it, because it was in Michigan and they don't do drug testing. I got beat, regardless. I don't want to compare him to Mike Tyson, because he is a legend. I'll just say that; until he has good people around him, he's going to be reckless.
ES: What did you think when you saw the video?
GH: I knew what was going to happen. It makes fighters look bad. We're special, in a way. You really have to separate yourself from fans when it comes to those kinds of things. I get challenged all the time. *changes voice* Yo, my cousin will fight you for $500. Your fists are your paychecks, why would you risk that?
ES: Does the negativity that people throw at you, ever get to you on social media?
GH: I have fun with them, but they do go a little far. They talk about my brother who died or my kids... I don't give a damn! Words are powerful, but at the same time they are hiding behind a computer screen. The funniest one yet, was a guy who was talking a whole mess of stuff to me. I went to his page and there was a picture of him playing the flute. I TORE HIS ASS UP! It was hilarious.
You can follow Gerald via his Twitter account, @GHurricane