Earlier this week, I defended Ben Askren's win over Douglas Lima on my Bellator 64 report card. Askren's win wasn't the most exciting title fight in history—that much is certainly true—but I tried to shift perspectives and point out that the responsibility for having an exciting fight falls on Askren's opponent, because you already know what he's going to do when you step in the cage with him.
If you can't get out from underneath him, well, that's just too bad. Askren doesn't care about pleasing the fans.
My dude Ariel Helwani, on the most recent edition of the MMA Hour, pointed out that Askren's win at Bellator 64 was fairly boring. Ariel was actually being nice. What he should've said, and didn't, is that Askren's win was one of the most boring fights in the history of the sport. Because it was.
Regardless, Askren didn't respond to Helwani's criticism very well:
Hey @arielhelwani I am still waiting on your expert advice. What strategy would have helped me finish the fight?
well I invite you to go in a cage with me. When you do that I will do your show. Otherwise kiss my ass.
Yes, Ben Askren challenged Ariel—a mixed martial arts journalist and a real reporter—to a fight.
I don't know why the "well, you've never fought anyone so you can't possibly have a valid opinion" response is so much more prevalent in MMA than in any other sport.
Is it because the MMA culture is filled with dudes who put on T-shirts with skulls, crosses and wings and instantly become tough guys? There's a troubling subculture involved with this sport that isn't just dangerous—it's also ludicrous and a serious damper on the UFC's attempts to be seen as a legitimate sport.
Guys like Askren don't help, either.
It's rare to see athletes from other sports claiming that journalists don't know what they're talking about because they've never thrown a touchdown in a Super Bowl or scored the game-winning shot in the NCAA tournament. Kevin Iole is a fantastic boxing journalist, and to the best of my knowledge, Kevin has never been heavyweight champion of the world, or even boxed in a professional fight.
Ariel is one of the best journalists in the sport, and he doesn't just flippantly criticize fighters on their performances. He's measured and thoughtful, so when he says publicly that you were in a boring fight, well, the chances are pretty good that you were actually in a boring fight.
Yeah, I'm tired of this argument. If you don't want the fans or media calling you boring, don't fight a boring style. I figured Askren was the one guy who truly didn't care what the fans or media thought of his style, but I guess I was wrong.
I guess he's just as sensitive as the rest of them.