Saturday July 11 2009 millions of MMA fans had the honor of watching the UFC promotion's (officially named) 100th show. Many positive things happened and a few unusual things occurred during the event but the thing that stuck out the most (to me) as being unusual or controversial, was the corrupt judging for the Yoshihiro Akiyama and Alan Belcher fight. The judges for that match should never be able to judge another match again. The decision was horrible!
Then the next day I went to all my favorite media outlets to review what the popular media is saying about the event. The thing that is getting the most attention is Lesnar's post match antics.
It makes me laugh when I hear Joe Rogan (color commentator for UFC) introducing pro wrestling terminology into legitimate MMA commentary. It goes to show how much more legitimate and insightful the team of Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros (commentators for Pride Fighting Championships) were as a commentary team.
I have heard Joe Rogan on a number of different occassions refer to Brock Lesnar's behavior as "playing heel". He says, that he "plays" heel but he is actually a cool guy. So am I to believe that he is playing a role, like in pro wrestling style acting? Then does that mean he is also playing a role in the actual match itself, and what I am seeing is not legitimate? Hey - pro wrestling can be made to look real, refer to the Pancrase organization back in the 90's and some of their worked shoot fights. Look at the fight between Mark Coleman vs Nobuhiko Takada in the Pride Fighting Championships organization, or some of the other supposed "worked shoots" Takada was apart of during that time. Those "worked shoots" still have me question Pride Fighting Championship's legitimacy to this day, especially with the lack of success some of the big name fighters from Pride faced when they went into the octagon.
The UFC is straddling a thin line between legitimacy and fake pro wrestling with comments like these and they should choose their words wisely. If pro wrestling fans tune in to watch UFC they are doing so to watch real fights, not pro wrestling. So they can stop trying to suck in the "pro wrestling market" and try to continue with fruitful projects such as "The Ultimate Fighter" TV series to introduce the casual fan to their product.
What makes me even more upset about the usage of "sports entertainment" commentary in legitimate sports, is the marketing of such antics as "the way to go" to become a millionare athlete in the world of combat sports. From all of my favorite media sources I received the same message regarding Brock Lesnar's conduct, at the end of each lengthy lecture about what is and what is not acceptable behavior pre and post fight it seems that they all want to wrap up Brock Lesnar's behavior into a neat little bow stating something like - "but that's why he's making the big bucks" or "but hey, it sold a million pay per view buys". Is this what we want to encourage fighters to do?
The fact of the matter is that Brock Lesnar is an insecure farm boy with a red neck mentality and a hillbilly way of talking. At the end of the fight with Mir he let the fans get to him, which gives us a peek into his heart and his soul. What you seen was not him playing a part, it was him in the face of adversity.
That particular crowd was pro-MMA and anti-sports entertainment, unfortunately they couldn't see past their own discrimation to see the brilliance in Lesnar's actual performance, which was in fact a truly magnificient dissection of an excellent fighter in Frank Mir.
The curious reaction from the crowd broke Lesnar down mentally - and it didn't take much. It makes me wonder when someone is able to execute a good gameplan against him, frustrate him, and when he is challenged mentally, how he will fare.
It's the same weak minded behavior he showed when he tapped out to a half executed knee bar attempt not too long ago. It's the same weak minded behavior displayed when someone has been working out for a long period of time and comes to a plateau with their genetics and body type and chooses to use a crutch like steroids to further their lives in any forum where their body could be their primary financial commodity.
MMA is a forum of truths. It hopefully inspires people to get up and be athletic and learn self defense, true strength, respect and discipline. Now due to its popularity MMA is in a position to help motivate society in this direction.
Randy Couture is an excellent ambassador of hard work, healthy living, belief in who he is, discipline, and basically (almost) everything an American should aspire to be like. Brock Lesnar is almost the direct opposite. An insecure, self admitted alcohol, pain killer, "crutch" substance abuser, who sells to the highest bidder and stands for nothing positive. The poster boy for capitalizm and garbage Americans. He only looks to sell you videos and pictures of his humongously chemically altered freakish physique (allegedly). He doesn't care about MMA, or give respect to the amature wrestling coaches and discipline that he learned in that training (which has served him so well in various athletic forums).
And this is another part of why a lot of MMA fans don't respect him. It's actually a positive breath of fresh air to see that they are rooting against him partially for this purpose. Maybe guys like Georges St Pierre and Randy Couture have taught the fans something. It's a far cry from the days where fans thought that Tank Abbott was a legitimate athlete and contender. And the days when "that one dude" was in the crowd with the beer, screaming irrationally, with the "I want blood" (or something) painted across his chest, representing the majority of MMA fans.
I have a few quotes from Russian fans about Fedor Emelianenko as a representative of Russian culture. These quotes are consistent with what I'm trying to say, these come from the article "From Russia with Glove: M-1 Selection and the State of Russian MMA -- Part 1" an article on Sherdog.com posted Thursday, May 28, 2009, written by Evgeni Kogan
The patriots (of Russia) say:
“Pride and Glory to Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko! He’s our Russian Hero!”
“For him who beckons us to be proud of our country.”
Those (of Russia) who hate imbeciles and believe MMA is for real men:
“I think that they squeeze MMA in Russia because it('s) a sport for real men, not for moral imbeciles who like beer and themselves above all else. If MMA becomes popular, then men will stop being pussies, and everyone knows it’s easier to control pussies.”
Those (Russians) who hate beer and useless idiots, and love sport and exercising say:
“Let’s finally start promoting sport, start growing a healthy nation, and not useless idiots with a beer in their hands. Fedor is the greatest (the whole WORLD knows this)." "What we need is for people to see him, and then they will want to go exercising and not drinking …”
Now I don't know if they realize that Fedor drinks like a fish (allegedly), but they are on the right path with what I am trying to get at.
These are some of the things I would like to see MMA inspire in our American fans, with an American champion we can be proud of.
Hopefully the media and executives of big MMA shows start getting back on course from this deviation towards sports entertainment and the mentality that this kind of garbage makes money, because it should showcase the sport not the pre or post fight antics of a fighter as the main attraction.