Learning on the fly is par for the course for many in this sport. The sport itself has reached peaks no one ever would have imagined.
What once were street fighters, bar brawlers, and mouth-breathing tough guys, have become highly trained, specialized combatants.
While you and I recognize these high-profile athletes as fighters, icons, legends, or even heels, they are humans just the same. They walk this earth just like us, and have to put their pants on one leg at at time.
As journalists, we have the luxury of displaying both our expertise, or in some cases lack there of, as well as our opinions. One fail safe we have is the buffer of the Internet.
Many of us are content to sit behind our keyboard and type away highly judgemental and biased points of view with the notion that we are insulated from those we pass judgement against.
We are learning on the fly just as the rest of the sport is. Just as Brock Lesnar must learn to curb his approach and delivery when promoting his fights, we must learn to humble ourselves into realizing our words hold weight.
Over the last year or so, I have found myself catapulted from a ranting and raving lunatic about everything I could get my mind around to a half way viable MMA writer.
In that time, I have shared more than one opinion discrediting or even disrespecting certain fighters or MMA concepts. I have come to a distinct realization during this journey.
If I am ever to truly realize my potential and attain the pinnacle of my dreams, it will involve my direct interaction in this world of MMA. Up to and including coming face to face with those I so readily passed judgement against.
For example, over dinner with Team Don Frye, I made the mistake of leaning on the ever popular judgement of Lesnar's post UFC 100 antics. As fate would have it, Lesnar once visited this camp.
One of the guys I was sitting with was content to point out to me that Brock had trained with them and was nothing short of a gentlemen and a very classy guy. This comment was made very curt and to the point so as to let me know how out of line I really was making such assumptions about an iconic figure in this sport.
More recently, upon leaving a local MMA event, I was followed out the door by another well known fighter. It just so happens that Junie Browning was at this event as a publicity booster. We happened to be leaving the event at the same time.
Now I have had more than my fair share of opinions regarding Mr. Browning. Many of which were and still are well deserved based on his prior actions. All that said, it turns out the guy was quite an agreeable person.
Somehow it was not so easy to just say screw Junie, he's a tool, once I had to look him in the eye. For those of you who jump to point to intimidation, I'm no cupcake and don't bow down easily. Fear of a simple confrontation is not motivation to keep me from speaking my mind.
It was the realization that I had forgone the idea that this was a man, whom I may very well come face to face with someday, that I could use as a target to spout my self righteous opinion about. That realization is ringing more true every day.
So here is my advice, and request if you will. I like to think I live my life by a rule. I would never say something about someone that I don't have the spine to say to their face. While it has served me well in my personal life, I have allowed the rule to slip in my writing.
Just be careful what it is you say and how you say it is all. There may come a day that your aspirations carry you right to a face to face conversation with someone you once used as a scapegoat to boost up your opinions.
I assure you from first hand knowledge this is quite an uncomfortable feeling. Hopefully this advice can save you the embarrassment of having to either eat your words or worst yet pretend you never said them.