I am a long-term fan of MMA articles. I’ve been reading them for years now. Time was, I would never turn down the opportunity to read a piece on MMA. No matter how obscure, how bizarre, I needed to chase it down and read it from start to end. I’d check out video interviews, podcasts, anything.
However, recently, I feel like my enthusiasm has waned. My appreciation for MMA writing has dropped. This really, really upsets me, as it represented a huge part of my personal history, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. So I thought I’d write this fan post to see if anyone else could sympathize.
The problem, of course, is oversaturation oversaturation. There are just way too many MMA articles out there, and they are all presenting pretty much the same information, in the same way. When I click on an MMA article to read it, or watch a video, or listen to a podcast, I know that all I’ll be getting is this:
A dude, probably white, early 20s to early 40s, saying that there’s too much UFC.
It has become wearing. I have things to do with my life other than reading endless recitations of being bored with UFC events. I mean, technically I do... sort of. I’ll start writing that novel and building that house any day now. Swear to god.
Where did the MMA media go wrong? Back in the earliest days of my article-reading, I would be chasing after literally everything I could get my hands on. I remember counting down the weeks until I could fire up the coal-powered generator, turn on the dialup and log onto to the FTP to download the latest piece from ValeTudoR0xx0rzMyB0xx0rz. You know, those articles were written in broken English, they were littered with spelling mistakes, he had a weirdly specific hatred for Belgians, and on at least one occasion the article in question turned out to be sickening porn but… it was an event, you know? It was something you could look forward to.
Now it’s just an endless stream of "Blah blah every weekend! Blah blah tipping point! Blah blah watered down!"
There are so many writers that even I find it difficult to keep track of them. There’s so many podcasts! BE radio, MMA Sentinel, Heavy Hands(?...!...!?!?...!!!!!), SRN, CME... and I can’t help but feel that this may affect the MMA readership as a whole.
I will not stop clicking
I left the house the other day and was talking to some of the people in the outernet about this. One of them just looked at me like I was some fool and said "Well why don’t you stop reading the articles then?"
I feel like this is the kind of thing that a fucking idiot would say. Firstly, I have self-identified as an MMA article fan for years. If I stop reading these articles, then what is left for me? Who AM I? I always looked down on everyone who didn’t know the exact content of every article in the MMA blogosphere. Filthy casuals, they were. Now, you want me to be one of them? You want me to stop reading articles, not just the obscure ones, but those that actually have the SBNation logo on them? What does that make me?
Simultaneously, these articles are going out to a wider audience. I’m no longer cool and underground with a small clique of readers. I feel like my beloved has been whored out to a circle of dopey mouth-breathers. Now, I have to read every article, just to keep up and to prove that I’m more hardcore than ANY of these new guys, while simultaneously becoming increasingly bitter.
Finally: I'm pretty sure that these articles need me. I was there at the beginning god dammit. How will they survive if I stop reading? They won’t!
The guy I was talking to made some very rude comments about my personal hygiene, and walked away.
Fixing the problem
It would make me very sad to see the MMA media be destroyed by its current stupidity, but fear not! I, as a long-term fan who knows more than any of you, have taken it upon myself to propose a number of solutions that may save it for everyone :
1) Build stars: The media needs to focus on making their writers stand out. I know some of them have made a small effort with silly hats and catch phrases, but they need to understand that this is entertainment, not just information transfer.
The more obscure guys need lessons in how to self-promote. I would suggest that T P Burke, for example, dyes his beard purple, gets a mohawk, and starts to use a hook to open his pieces. Something like: "YOWZA YOWZA YOWZA LET’S BREAK SOME SKULLZ!" It’s fresh, rad and extreme, and that’s what’s lacking at the moment.
2) Writers should cultivate feuds with other writers: It drives traffic, particularly if it’s got an international flavour. Someone starting a little manufactured e-scuffle with that Welsh Kidd fellow couldn’t hurt.
2) Bring back the classics: I can perfectly remember the pieces I read when I was younger, yet nowadays I’m forgetting what I’ve read almost immediately.
For example, Luke Thomas used to do a series called "Hindsight is Twenty" where he’d discuss the prior UFC event, and how it had changed his viewpoint on the fighters in question. It was good... but it just stopped a few years ago. Why not bring it back? Nothing is more important than being able to look objectively and accurately at the past. Good ol’ Luke Thomas.
3) Stop the little "technique" and "market" and "science" articles. I know, I know, this is an unpopular one. There are tons of snobs out there who will be like "oh, they’re so well constructed" "they’re so informative and well put together." Listen, I’ve been an MMA article fan for years, and I can tell you that there’s nothing wrong with not liking technique pieces. When it comes down to it, they don’t drive traffic, and no-one really wants to read them. Give the people what they want to read: baseless speculation, Twitter, and controversy. People don’t need to be educated.
It’s a phrase which has become a bit of a pejorative, but honestly there’s some truth to it: "Just Read."
2) Get rid of the women. I’ll be honest- I was fairly weary of the announcement that women would be writing articles. I’m not a misogynist, and I’m sure they show great heart, but facts are facts: there writing is at least ten to fifteen years behind an equivalent mans, and it does effect me a bit, because I have always been a sticker for spelling and grammar. Don’t get me wrong! I’m personally OK with Steph and Katie, but I do have many unidentified friends who say that they won’t read articles which are written by women. Because it’s unnatural.
The Final Plea
All this has been very hard to write. I really did once love consuming MMA media, and yet now, it’s saturated with far too much complaining about over-saturation for me to be able to able to enjoy it.
I truly hope that someone out there can take note of my flawless suggestions, because I’m pretty sure that they are the only things which can stop an encroaching improbable doomsday scenario.
If you enjoyed this fan post, I hope you’ll consider writing one like it. Maybe if enough of us write pieces about oversaturation oversaturation, we can achieve enough saturation… to really make a difference.