Every once in a while, it is good practice to step back and reflect on things—on the bigger picture if you will. It is an exciting time to be alive, if you’re passionate about mixed martial arts. The sport is growing at a meteoric rate.
Never before, are so many great fight cards being put together. To be able to flip back and forth, on free television, between a re-airing of UFC 86 and Elite XC’s third attempt at a fight card is, in my mind, something quite special for this young sport.
I think, after some time has passed, those who are upset at Elite XC will learn to forgive them for their mistakes. The “Kimbo Slice phenomenon” is something that just happened, and it happened to all of us.
If you went to YouTube and typed in Kimbo’s name, you are just as accountable as Jared Shaw, albeit on a smaller scale. He had the money to “dance with the devil” if you will.
But let’s not put blame on anyone. It is what it is. Elite XC was trying to capitalize on an internet sensation and they gave the majority of the people what they wanted to see. Its simple economics: When there is enough demand, someone will supply it. If it wasn’t Elite XC then it would have been someone else.
Certain things happen for a reason. They are therapeutic while appearing catastrophic.
Every sport has had their Kimbo Slice moments. The NFL just recently went through Spygate, where the Super Bowl champions were accused of spying. The NBA has been going through a controversy with refs accused of betting on games. And MLB: one word, steroids.
A little history can go along way when putting things in perspective.
Like people, sports make mistakes. And like people, they let us down. And if they learn from their mistakes, they grow and are the better for it.
And, as fans, so are we.
I think mixed martial arts learned a great lesson this past weekend and the sport will be better off because of it. My only real concern, in terms of long term repercussions, is the potential stigma that could burn into the mainstream consciousness of the sports community in regards to fight fixing.
If that stigma tattoos itself to the collective perception of sports, then we have a serious problem on our hands. A trigger happy congress would be more then happy to meddle with another sport in an attempt to look self righteous—especially MMA.
Money, power, and trying to control perception are how most decisions are decided upon in the home of the free and the land of the brave.
Despite any shortcomings, the future of MMA has never looked better.
In the long run, this incident is a drop in the bucket. UFC is doing it's part in expanding the sport worldwide. Ratings are through the roof. 2009 will be the greatest year ever for the sport.
And while the NFL, NBA, and MLB are the top three sports in the United States it is not extreme to say that one day MMA will be competing alongside them for the sports fan’s attention, dollar, and heart.
This weekend in MMA was both entertaining & disappointing.
It was the best and worst of what any sport can offer to it's fans. But when you’re making your final judgments on this up-and-coming sport think: Forrest Griffin not Kimbo Slice. Think GSP vs. BJ Penn at SuperBowl weekend. Think Dana White because we have no choice. And definitely think: Gina Carano.