The life of a professional fighter isn't easy. There are long days in the gym, time away from family, constant injuries, and then after all that, you have to get into a cage with another man who is looking to put a serious hurting on you.
Sure, the opportunity for fame and fortune is there. But, most never achieve those things. Most retire with no money in the bank, a poor work history for breaking into the corporate world, and at least a couple of nagging injuries.
On top of all that hardship is the MMA fan: a particularly noxious breed of individual who just loves to voice his or her opinion, often in a brutally negative manner.
Yes, we love a fighter when he’s on top, and will jump on the bandwagon as fast as any sports fans, but we’ll also bulldoze that fighter just as quickly when things go south.
And in MMA, things can go south in a hurry.
All it takes is a couple of losses and all of a sudden, our formerly beloved hero is too old, too slow, too small, or too leisurely in evolving to the rapid changes of today’s MMA.
Part of our venom can be attributed to sports in general. All fans are rabid creatures when their team is losing. Who could ever forget Bill Buckner’s infamous Game 6 blunder? Or Scott Norwood’s missed field goal at Super Bowl XXV?
Those poor souls were long despised by their team’s fans to the point where they’ve been eternally relegated to folk-villain status.
But those guys came up short when championships were on the line for the team. Fans have such a personal stake in their teams that they have no problem placing all the blame for a big loss on a single, common mistake of one player.
In MMA, there is no team as far as the fans are concerned. No one watches an Anderson Silva fight and cheers for Black House. They cheer for Silva. MMA may be a team sport insofar as training is concerned, but when it’s game time, it’s about the fighter.
Because we lack that team spirit, we’re quicker to jump ship. Fighters come and go. Teams are forever, for which the love of is passed down from father to son. Anderson Silva won’t be around long enough to transcend generations. The Yankees will.
Another factor is just the nature of the sport. It’s violent. There are bloody faces, broken bones, and images of unconscious fighters who weren’t quick enough with the tap.
It’s only natural that MMA attracts a certain type of fan. Just as baseball has a picnic-like atmosphere, a live MMA event is a tornado of testosterone.
Perhaps the most significant reason, though, is that we pay big bucks to enjoy our sport and expect a lot. UFC pay-per-views run about $800 a year, not to mention the necessary Showtime subscription for Strikeforce.
Other sports show most of their games with a basic cable subscription, and if you want to get fancy, you can get the deluxe package for a couple hundred bucks.
Let’s be honest. It is, in fact, all about the benjamins. The more of a financial stake you have in something, the more of a personal stake you’re going to take in it.
Because we spend so much money watching the sport we love, we’ve developed an entitlement mentality.
It’s because of these factors that MMA fans are often described as “fickle,” which is really just a soft term for “obnoxious.” But hey, as “fickle” as we may be, we’re also the most passionate fans in the world.
So for better or worse, 'til death do us part, fighters and fans are forever joined in this blessed, yet dysfunctional union.
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