We've all seen them.
They walk with their shoulders back and chest out, chicken legs and balloon arms displayed proudly in an attempt to look badass.
And then you have it: the shirt.
TapouT. Affliction. Foundation Fight Co.
Whatever the brand, the label is the same: "MMA wannabe."
Let's just hold up here.
For whatever reason, MMA fans are a particularly brutal bunch when it comes to criticizing appearances.
If you don't train like a fighter, you can't dress like a fighter.
I'm here to put this way of thinking to bed, to say that if you want to wear your TapouT shirt, you should do so with pride.
Let me put it this way: Do I think I play for the Pittsburgh Steelers when I wear my no. 58 Jack Lambert jersey?
My high school didn't even have a football team, so I never even remotely considered myself a football player.
Does it bother you when non-fighters wear MMA apparel?
Yet, I would get less flak for wearing my jersey than I would for wearing a TapouT shirt.
Essentially, this MMA wear is the "jersey" of the UFC and other MMA promotions. Whenever you see somebody wearing an Affliction shirt, you know, "Hey, that guy likes MMA!"
So what's the big deal whether he trains or not?
It would be completely ridiculous to think that everybody who likes a sport needs to be an expert at that sport. Hell, that's why I watch: because I know there is no way I'm getting in the Octagon and I respect the guys that do.
But, I do "get it," my friends.
It's annoying when some meathead is rambling nonsense about MMA and thinks he's the biggest badass to ever grace our great planet because he saw a UFC pay-per-view once and bought a sweet shirt.
Truly, I understand the annoyance here.
But that doesn't mean he can't change.
When I first started watching MMA, I had no clue what something as basic as "half guard" was, but I learned, and now I love all the intricacies of the sport just as much as I love a good old-fashioned slugfest.
Listen, the shirt is just a way of showing support for a growing sport: nothing more, nothing less.
If I wear a TapouT shirt, it's not because I think I can choke you out, it's because I like MMA and that is how I choose to express it.
So next time you see somebody walking down the street strutting in their TapouT shirt, take it easy on them and realize that you are both just two dudes with an appreciation for one of the fastest growing and most entertaining sports in the world.
That's something to be proud of.