Every fan loves to watch a back-and-forth battle where two fighters exchange blows, but there is a decent chance the fighters involved don't care for it at all. They just want to get the win, make some money and go home.
And they are absolutely right in doing that.
Some fighters might say they enjoy going to war, and in the UFC the bonuses help, but in the end their job is to win and compete again as soon as possible. Some of the mixed martial artists really do just enjoy the challenge.
Some are just providing for their families.
In boxing there are fighters who are criticized for staying in their home countries and taking easy fights where they win lots of money. The same thing happens in MMA, but it isn't widespread. Any critiques of in mixed martial arts comes from the strategies certain UFC fighters employ.
But you know what? They should do that.
Fans may grow rabid and attack a fighter like Jon Fitch for winning "boring decisions," but he has been able to feed and house his family and himself by doing just that. Fans do pay for a fighter's paycheck by buying pay-per-views and tuning in, but they won't do so if he gets cut from the UFC.
A fan may cheer for fighters like Keith Jardine or Leonard Garcia, but when they get cut or face the chopping block they do it alone.
There is no pension in fighting. There usually isn't a medical plan either.
Fighters just make the money they can while getting injured with the potential risk of taking enough damage that they can no longer make a living that way.
If they can find a way to minimize the risk and win, then they should. That doesn't mean that it won't come with consequences. Those fighters that choose not to will not get moved along as fast, get fewer main card slots and are marketed less aggressively.
Just like high-stakes gambling, those that take the larger risk can meet an equal reward.
But if a fighter feels that he has the technical skills to slowly and surely climb the ladder and snatch the title, that is his prerogative. If he wants to take as little of a chance, ironically while competing in a risky job, he can do so and should do so without negativity.
He may have to face the facts that he won't get the adoration his more fan-friendly counterparts do, though he may not get cut as fast either.
As long as the fighters accept the trade that such a style of fighting demands, then they deserve to do it without ridicule.
Because when a fighter gets cut from the UFC or finally retires, the fans don't follow them. They don't continue to pay to see them at meet and greets or cover their rent or hospital bills.
They move on to the next fighter and cheer him.
That may sound callous, but it is true. Fans are fickle. The second a fighter doesn't deliver they say that fighter is done. After a fighter doesn't deliver for a while they dismiss him and forget about him.
Only fighters like Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, who have been top fighters for years, are saved from this phenomenon.
But most fighters don't have that luxury and don't reach that level of acclaim.
They just fight to survive. It would be nice if fans realized this and let them.
Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report. He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com that focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.
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