Nostalgia Crisis: Are We Longing for the 'Good Old Days' of MMA?

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Nostalgia Crisis: Are We Longing for the 'Good Old Days' of MMA?
Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images

Stop watching MMA. Pride is dead, Fedor's mystique is gone, the unified rules are awful and the UFC is a haven for "lay and pray" artists and fighters who avoid real fighting at all costs. 

That's what some misguided "fans" would have you believe. 

If there's one thing that's hurting MMA, it's nostalgia run amok. 

For some reason, fans across the Internet keep forgetting that it isn't the early 2000s. Fedor Emelianenko is not the world heavyweight champion, the best fighters at 205 are not in Japan, there are no yellow cards and knees/kicks to the head of a grounded opponent are not legal—deal with it. 

When bad things happen in modern MMA, people look back to Pride Fighting Championships as if it was some kind of paragon for the sports world. But Pride had its demons; it was far from the pure and perfect organization people would have you believe. 

Pride did bad things. They allegedly fixed fights (if you go buy Gary Goodridge's estimate, 90 percent of fights in the promotion were fixed, tried to influence the results of fights by giving the preferred fighter more time to train and they also allegedly didn't pay fighters. 

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson said it best in an interview with Fighters Only:

The UFC treats me better than Pride. I don't know what [Pride's] problem was but they wouldn't promote me at all, they cheated me out of money from dolls and t-shirts, not paying me...

When my contract was up and we were negotiating and I wanted more money and they were telling me ‘Oh, but you're a nobody.' This was after I had fought in the Grand Prix and beat Igor Vovchanchyn. Even after I went to that K-1 fight and represented them in K-1, they were mad I won that K-1 fight! Just stuff like that...

Igor Vovchanchyn, I got two weeks notice [for the fight]. Ninja, two weeks notice. It was bad. The tournaments were fixed. They said they drew numbers from a hat. It was all set up for Wanderlei to win. It was really bad. Even in some fights they would stand you up when you were winning, different stuff like that.

Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, one of the high points of Pride FC.

Pride did bad things. More bad things than fervent Pride fans accuse UFC president Dana White and Zuffa of doing. While Zuffa cares enough about fighters to offer them insurance and—before insurance was implemented—pay for injuries received while fighting. Pride simply shrugged their shoulders. 

Rampage Jackson again shed light on the subject of Pride's failings the same interview with Fighters Only:

Yeah, take yourself to the hospital. I remember my people taking me to the hospital. I think they used to have a van there sometimes. But in the UFC if you get hurt even in practice in a fight, Dana will say ‘Come on, come to my doctor’ and they will pay for it. The UFC is really good about that. That’s one thing I really like about the UFC compared to Pride, the UFC is really good like that. But if you got hurt in practice getting ready for a Pride fight…[laughs]. And if you got hurt in a fight, like I got my hand broken over there, they don’t care.

It was just the way they treated you. Not all the fighters got treated like that. The Brazilian fighters got treated well, and Cro Cop and stuff like that they got treated well but a lot of the American fighters probably feel the same as me. They probably wouldn’t say anything but I don’t care.

It seems that for every good point about Pride (their generally higher level of talent, rules more conducive to exciting fights, theatrical entrances, grand prixs), there was a bad point to offset it. 

Hindsight is not only 20/20, but it's viewed with selective memory; the "old days" are always better for some reason. 

So some fans might be longing for the "good old days" of MMA, but the truth of the matter is that those days never existed. 

The finest hour of MMA is here and now.

Fighters who will be referred to as "the greats" of our generation are putting on amazing fights for us, the UFC is extending is reach across the globe with international versions of The Ultimate Fighter and the sport is emerging into the mainstream and has made it onto FOX.

Now is the best time to be a fan of mixed martial arts, despite what any curmudgeonly Pride fans will tell you. Because, in the words of the immortal philosopher Billy Joel, "The good ole days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."

 

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