The worst part of being an MMA fan is MMA fans. There is a pervasive, unstoppable ignorance that is found in nearly corner of the MMA world, and it can be overwhelming. I know that I should probably not give this sort of ignorant garbage the time of day, but it also reflects poorly on the small segment of MMA fans who are not inclined to be horrible human beings.
Just this past weekend, there were two prime examples of the sort of response that have sadly come to typify MMA fans. Thiago Silva, a now-former UFC light heavyweight fighter, was arrested after an incident in which he allegedly threatened his estranged wife and her boyfriend with a gun. The response from an unfortunately large part of the MMA community, particularly on twitter, was to claim that Silva was right to be upset because his wife was with another man. This, somehow, justified his actions in the minds of these fans. The man threatened to kill his wife and the prevailing thought for some was, "cheating bitch deserved it." Misogyny is far from foreign to MMA culture, but this sort of victim blaming is a prime example of the danger of promoting a sport around a culture of hyper-masculinity. Former UFC fighter War Machine (a consistent standout, in the being a piece of garbage category) tweeted, in response to the arrest, "Free Thiago Silva!!!! Imprison his whore wife and the asshole fucking her!!!! RT!!! @AlphaMaleShit" As of this writing, the tweet has 85 retweets and 62 favorites. Discounting whatever small percentage of that is from people pointing out that he's an asshole, that's a whole lot of support for a whole lot of misogyny.
And then, Sunday night, the news broke that NFL draft prospect Michael Sam had come out as gay, becoming the first openly gay prospect in the history of the draft. This was obviously big news, and he was anointed a hero by the sports community and LGBT community. It's an important, powerful step towards the eventual acceptance of openly gay athletes. This ties to MMA because of a distinct few particularly horrific responses to the news from the MMA community. Jason Coles (@MMASun) sent out a number of tweets on the subject, a few of which I will quote here and respond to one by one:
"If sexual preference doesn't matter why make news of it?"
It's not that sexual preference "doesn't matter," it's that it should not be held against someone. And it is news because NEVER BEFORE IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE SPORT OF FOOTBALL ON THIS PLANET OF EARTH has there been an openly gay NFL player. It's huge news. Breaking down barriers and making change is massively important and newsworthy.
"Just like Jason Colljns [sic] this dude wants a moment of fame"
If Michael Sam merely wanted a moment of fame, he would have saved this huge news for a later date, not come out at a time where it could have the most significant possible impact on the course of his career. There has already been a large response showing that this will almost certainly affect his draft status, which makes this decision all the more selfless.
"I think homosexuality is wrong and unnatural, but I also think we should treat people with kindness regardless."
There is nothing, at all, "kind" about calling a person's lifestyle "wrong and unnatural."
"I will treat all people kindly, even those I disagree with their beliefs and behavior. That being said: I think homosexuality is sin."
This translates, roughly, to "I will be nice to gay people even though I think they are horrible people."
"So everyone has the right to praise a dude coming out of the closet, but I'm intolerant for believing its [sic] wrong."
"Yes I think homosexuality is wrong, I also think stealing, murder and adultery are wrong."
Do you realize how ABSURD this is? You just equated a man loving a man with KILLING SOMEONE. Are you even a human being?
"So I'm intolerant for saying homosexuality is wrong but you can cuss me for saying that...who is the intolerant one? Who is the moralist?"
You are. It is not intolerant to call out a person for being bigoted. This is similar to a very common misconception about freedom of speech, which is that freedom of speech means that you can say whatever you want and everyone has to be alright with that. That's not the case. Sure, you can say whatever you'd like, but you'd better be damn ready for some backlash if you're being a bigot.
I could go on, particularly with similarly sad diatribes from Front Row Brian and Bloodstain Lane, two of MMA's foremost ignoramuses, but it's honestly not worth the time to write about or for you to read about. If you'd care to, check out their twitter feeds, but I wouldn't recommend it.
As an MMA fan, I grow to love the sport more and more whenever I watch a great fight, but I have a harder and harder time even tolerating the culture with each passing day. The fans and the fighters in this sport fill me with a bizarre shame that makes me hate that I love this sport.