MMA: Are MMA Fans the Most Ungrateful in Sports?

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2012

NEW YORK - MARCH 06:   UFC lightweight Nate Diaz (R) tosses an autographed t-shirt to a fan after a press conference at Radio City Music Hall on March 06, 2012 in New York City.  UFC announced that their third event on the FOX network will take place on Saturday, May 5 from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J.. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
Michael Nagle/Getty Images

People love to hate things. They might not admit it, but as a wise man once said, “Hating something always feels better than feeling nothing at all,” which is why you get people hating on or complaining about things that they’ll profess to enjoy overall.

And so it goes with MMA, and with fans of MMA.

For all the praise the sport receives from diehards and the excitement it produces, there’s an astounding amount of negativity as well. Some of it is warranted, some of it isn’t. Most all of it is extreme.

It’s pretty routine to see Dana White’s Twitter absolutely cluttered with fans of his organization complaining to, or outright accosting, him about happenings in the sport. Ignorant to the fact that the president of a multimillion dollar organization doesn’t owe them a personal explanation or even a comment, they’ll actively troll him until he says something nasty in response. Then they’ll attack him for that.

That’s only one example, though. It’s not that long ago that MMA was on life support entirely, kept alive by exchanges and Internet forums. At that time, no one could have ever foreseen pay-per-views every month—sometimes twice a month—or on network television a half-dozen times a year.

A weekly reality show? Out of the question.

Fights all over the world, sometimes accompanied by thousands of fans flocking to an accompanying Fan Expo? Even crazier.

But those things are here.

The UFC recently went seven weeks between pay-per-views, and people complained aggressively. There was a time when seven months was customary. Let’s all relax here.

It raises the question of just how ungrateful fans of the sport have become. Sure, sports fans in general are far more likely to point out the foibles of their favourite club than bask in a winning streak, but MMA fans are in a different position.

Fans pay for the bigger fights, and that probably gives them a right to be vocal to a degree. Not to excess, though. Just because you paid $50 for something doesn’t mean you should go on Twitter and tell the head of the company how much it sucked after the fact. There’s never a guarantee that you’re buying something incredible when you buy something with as many variables as MMA.

Even so, UFC events deliver more often than they don’t. As White is so prone to respond, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. It speaks volumes that the man would rather not have these people as fans than have to put up with silly complaints.

There’s also the reality that, with so many free fights happening now, with all PPV preliminary bouts being shown at no charge in one way or another and with the long-running TUF program on regularly (which gets a stunning amount of hate in its own right), the average MMA fan is getting his $50 worth per month even if the event he pays for doesn’t seem worth it on its own.

It’s not that it’s unreasonable for fans to be critical or to ask for the best possible product every time out. But it is unreasonable to act as though it’s an entitlement, that just because one considers themselves a fan that they should never have to suffer through a card that doesn’t live up to hype or some names getting shuffled around due to injury or whatever else.

It isn’t fair to call them the most ungrateful fans in sports, because all fans have a hint of ungratefulness to them. But it is fair to suggest that MMA fans aren’t always ungrateful for the right reasons, and the sport as a whole would be better served if that attitude became a thing of the past.