When it comes to professionalism in MMA combatants, there are those that act accordingly and those that don’t. However, if push came to shove, I’d have to say that the unprofessional fighters are the more entertaining.
In a recent interview, undisputed UFC 170-pound titlist Georges St-Pierre spoke about the perks acquired with regards to being a professional in the sport.
“This is something that I’ve been doing since the beginning of my career,” St-Pierre said. “I wore a suit at press conferences when all the other fighters were making fun of me. (They said), ‘Oh, look at St-Pierre, he doesn’t wear his sponsor.’ I’m the one who first started doing this stuff, and I think the image and how you conduct yourself … because the sponsor, the big companies in corporate America, they’re not interested in sponsoring an athlete who is good in his sport but acts like an idiot outside of the Octagon. They want someone who performs well, of course, but acts like a gentleman outside of the Octagon.
“I understood that more than ten years ago. That’s why I behave the way I do and I do things that I do. That’s why I have a lot of sponsors. I do have a lot of sponsors and a lot of money because of this. It brings money to the table.”
“I’m in this business because I want to make it for a living, for money,” he said rather passionately. “People don’t understand that. They used to make fun of me. Now ten years after, now they start picking up on it. It’s sad to see that it takes a long time for them to understand.”
That was the Canadian native at his professional best, but the question I ask is would the sport or any sport for that matter be as entertaining if every one of its participants towed the line and behaved in a goody two-shoes fashion just like the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter?
The answer is no.
In the world of sweet science no one pugilist or sportsman has ever captured the public’s imagination as Michael Gerrard Tyson did during his reign terror—he was loved and loathed in equal measure.
“The Baddest Man on the Planet’s” unprofessionalism both inside and outside of the ring knew no bounds—an early morning with brawl with Mitch “Blood” Green, a press junket scuffle with Lennox Lewis, and a sentence for a rape conviction.
I doubt anyone could ever forget one of the most infamous incidents to have ever occurred in four-squared ring—chomping at the bit would be an understatement—Tyson helped himself to a piece of both Evander Holyfield’s ears.
Were the aforementioned infractions unprofessional? Absolutely, but they were also immensely entertaining and made headline news.
His polarizing persona was the reason he became such an enigma to million’s worldwide, the latter of which we’re still trying to unravel.
Apropos the MMA stratosphere, the likes of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Chael Sonnen and Nick Diaz are near enough the epitome of unprofessionalism.
Rampage’s rants and antics are both legendary and unseemly—taking to Twitter to berate your employer is a professional no-no, but he did. And if that doesn’t get the juices flowing, in addition to humping not one, but two reporters, he goes one further by humping a tiger.
Then, there’s the case of Sonnen, the self-styled “American Gangster” tested positive for elevated testosterone, and was subsequently suspended by CSAC (California State Athletic Commission).
Furthermore, he incurred a felony charge for money laundering in correlation with mortgage fraud, and to boot, has vocally annihilated any fighter that he thought required bringing down a peg or two.
Meanwhile, Diaz, a Stockton native has failed two drugs test and has openly and publicly admitted to smoking cannabis. And with regards to the media, he isn’t averse to a profane word or two and neither is he loath to flip the bird whenever the mood takes him.
Even though the St-Pierre’s of the MMA world are overly professional and sometimes entertaining in the steel cage, they do lack that certain oomph out of it.
The likes of Rampage, Sonnen and Diaz might every so often come across as unprofessional, but on any given day, I would rather click on a link with news regarding them than a prim-and-proper combatant who faultlessly goes by the professional code of ethics.
Unprofessionalism in mixed martial arts mightn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but more times than not, it makes for great entertainment, and as long as the combatants prove themselves in a fighting capacity, it’s all good.