The MMA Fan

So you have just watched an incredible fight, one in which a much-coveted prospect made good on the promise they were thought to have by emerging victorious over an extremely talented veteran in the most devastating fashion possible. In case you had not yet deciphered the fight I was alluding to, it is the fantastic performance by then prospect, now likely heavyweight title contender Francis Ngannou, who knocked out Alistair Overeem via vicious uppercut in the first round of their co-main event showdown. If you are like me, you were in awe at the ferocity in which Ngannou dispatched Overeem, now being even more sure of his immense talent.

Just days following the triumphant performance by Ngannou, Steve Marocco of MMA Junkie wrote an article highlighting Ngannou’s coach Dewey Cooper’s appearance on MMA Junkie Radio. While Cooper stated many things you would expect to hear from a coach, like how he would like to see his fighter take some time to gather himself, work some new techniques, overall continuing to improve. He also revealed something else, a particular revelation that sent the fans of the MMA world in frenzy, mostly emitting a resounding groan of disapproval toward his idea; this idea being he would like to see Ngannou test himself opposite the likes of boxing heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua, and Deontay Wilder one year from now, after he contends for the UFC heavyweight title.
“Everyone was so enthralled about the Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather fight. I’d like to see Francis about one year from now fight whoever the heavyweight champion is, whether it be Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua. That would be a real fight, where an MMA fighter could go in there and upset a current boxing champion.” Cooper told MMA Junkie Radio
The MMA community is never shy in stating their opinion, often times choosing to do so before even understanding the circumstance they have formed their thoughts about. With many having their strong opposing opinions about lightweight champion Conor McGregor’s venture into another sport while not defending his own title prior, one can expect those same fans to already have a sore spot over the mention of another star, and potential champion embarking on the same journey as that of the mercurial Irishman. Thoughts are mainly along the lines of it doing some sort of disservice to the sport of mixed martial arts in some way, escaping the debt these fighters owe to the fans, and the obligation to deliver their talents exclusively to the opinions of how the sport’s fan base sees fit.

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I had to gather myself due to the absurdity as I wrote the last sentence to the prior paragraph. Fans in all sports always display a level of entitlement when it comes to the athletes needing to deliver to them what they pay for. As a devout follower of multiple sports, I am here to tell you I have observed MMA fans to be the most extreme culprit in these beliefs. Here is the caveat such a belief system which exists amongst these particular fans, this one might be a shot to the gut, brace yourselves, then listen carefully. These athletes owe you absolutely nothing,they do not need to adhere to the direction you believe they should take in their respective careers, they do not need to act how you wish them to act, they do not need to be told how, or where to earn the money which supports their family,  and lastly, do not owe it to their peers. They only need to do what they feel is best for their career. There was a keyword to pay close attention to, “their”, this is not your career.
To venture further into this, it is especially ironic MMA fans happen to be the most easily triggered fans in regards to fighters desiring to make the most money possible. Since the inception of non-war pertinent civilian combat, “fighting” has always been about fighting for a prize. Without going back centuries to gladiatorial combat, let us simply take a look at boxing, a cousin of the sport of mixed martial arts, and the only sport of fighting which currently is as largely profitable, or more largely profitable than MMA. Rankings have only ever been loosely employed, they stand to display a quasi-structure to by which matchups are made. While it is there to be seen, the structure has predominantly yielded to the more entertaining, enticing, as well as profitable combative affairs. These fighters, promoters, and organizations are all in the business of making money, this might be somewhat of a shocking revelation to many, but money is the paramount here, as opposed to following a list of rankings about as ironclad as a signature on a napkin written in pencil. Mixed martial arts has never itself followed these rankings, however many fans will try to tell you how they wish to get back the “old days” – the old days where fighters had no health insurance, wore Mike’s condom shop sponsors halfway peeling off from the their last minute iron on patchwork on their shorts, and fighters had little more technical comprehension than a half-drunk 250 pound bar patron who got upset you brushed by his shoulder, those “old days”.
What the sport used to be was an absolute circus, the circus where out of touch unable to embrace change congressmen viewed the sport as human cockfighting. To be fair they were partially correct. However, the sport is no longer that, the sport is a place where incredible athletes have harnessed abilities from a plethora of martial arts disciplines in order to form an exceptionally well-rounded ability to compete in a sport among other athletic marvels. The MMA fan needs to understand this sport has experienced exponential growth since its inception, a growth that requires changes to the status quo. It is time to embrace the fun, exciting matchups, encourage the extreme talents to test themselves in any outlet necessary for them to better their career earnings, and improve their stardom. Sit back, and just enjoy the ride, this sport is gaining traction, and it is not due to being stagnant, or reverting back to some archaic traditional sporting mindset constantly displayed. This is prizefighting, where the biggest stars fight for the biggest prizes.

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