UFC 144 Results: Are US Crowds the Most Disrespectful in the Sport?
With the fairly successful return of the UFC to Japan now in the books, there’s plenty of fodder for fans and the media to kick around.
When will the UFC return to the Land of the Rising Sun?
Will they stage a bigger event?
Is Japan the next big market for the promotion? Is it somewhere else in Asia?
Aside from these questions, and many others, perhaps the biggest one is: how about that Japanese crowd?
Lauded for their ability to be respectful and honourable, the Japanese onlookers did little to disappoint at UFC 144. While they were perhaps a little more lively than the fans that filled PRIDE events during the '90s and 2000s, they were largely silent save for raucous welcomes as fighters entered the cage and short bursts of applause when someone did something exceptional during the fight.
To put it mildly, it was awesome.
So awesome, in fact, that color commentator Joe Rogan took off his headset during the main event and simply soaked in the stunning energy of the building. That’s a guy who’s been all over the world as a commentator, been in hundreds of competitions himself during his time in martial arts and was awestruck by the Japanese fans.
But it also raises another question: are American fans the most disrespectful in the sport?
All too often at events on American soil, expletives are hurled at fighters in the cage, fights break out in the stands and fighters on the way to the cage are accosted or robbed of hats and other paraphernalia.
Fans take to message boards to complain about fighters despite having never laced up gloves or put on a gi themselves. They complain about Dana White and his organization. They complain about anything they can think to complain about. Often, they do it with rancor reserved for their worst enemies, though from the safety of a keyboard they can offer up such nuggets of disrespect without any recourse.
To be fair, it’s not solely an American phenomenon. Canadian fans can turn into wildmen (and women) when you throw them into a sea of Affliction shirts, put two guys in a cage together and offer up all the beer you can handle for $13 a pop. Brits get a little crazy too, even if their overpriced beer costs them too many quid instead of too many dollars.
However, and this may solely be because the US is still home to the bulk of UFC events, it certainly seems like American fans find themselves in the thick of things more often than others.
Regardless of whether or not it’s true that fans in the US are the most disrespectful—and realistically, there is no reasonable metric by which that could be measured—it’s undeniably safe to say that fans the world over could learn a thing or two from those who took in UFC 144 in Japan on Saturday night.
There’s no need to steal a guy’s hat on the way to the cage. Calling him a bitch from your seat doesn’t make you tough or cool. Sucker punching the guy next to you because you just got a new Tapout shirt at the merch booth isn’t fandom either.
Cheer guys or boo them, just as you would at any other sporting event. When you’re not doing that, sit back and enjoy the show they’re giving you. To do anything else is just disrespectful, and the Japanese crowd on Saturday showed just how incredible respect can be sometimes.
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