Perhaps it was spring fever, but the month of April saw a lot of nonsense come from the MMA world. Specifically, the notion of novelty fights.
Please, stop. I beg of you all.
It all started with Ronda Rousey vs. Floyd Mayweather talk. The hypothetical of who would win in a fight even saw UFC President Dana White discussing the fantasy bout on ESPN's SportsNation. UFC commentator Joe Rogan discussed it on ESPN as well.
Soon after, UFC champion Jon Jones—while promoting his upcoming title fight—had to field questions regarding the nonsensical bout.
Speaking of UFC 172, the next novelty fight got brought up in the lead-up to the main event of that fight card. Instead of talking about Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira, we were subjected to talk of Jon Jones vs. Chuck Liddell.
Fans and media alike love fantasy fights and games, but there is a time and place for them.
NFL fans love debating who would win between the '85 Chicago Bears and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (or whichever two teams you may choose for this hypothetical matchup). NBA fans may debate the '95 Chicago Bulls against the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers. MLB fans could debate between the '27 New York Yankees and the '98 Yankees.
We debate the same in combat sports. Muhammad Ali vs. Mike Tyson is one of the more popular topics for boxing.
However, the ones coming from MMA make little sense. Rousey vs. Mayweather? Really? That is our hypothetical fight? A fight that has no business even being entertained?
As for Jones vs. Liddell, it would make sense in the same context as other fantasy matchups if not for Jones inviting Liddell to come out of retirement for a superfight.
When we debate greatness against one another, we do so for the discussion. In MMA, we are not there yet. There is not enough history to do so. As the Jones vs. Liddell talk shows, we are still in a place where fighters are entertaining these thoughts in a serious manner. Why would Jones welcome Liddell for a superfight?
Time and again MMA fans and pundits lament that the sport is not taken seriously, and that the sport favors spectacle over sport. And then they prove why the sport is not taken seriously, and why promoters go for the spectacle instead of the sporting aspect of booking fights. It is because fans show interest in these topics and eat it up.
Everyone needs to stop feeding into the talk of this nonsense and focus on what actually matters in our sport. We have upcoming fights between elite fighters that are getting swept under the rug due to the talk of the novelty fights.
Focus on what matters, and maybe, just maybe, MMA will begin to be taken seriously.