Being a fan of any sport, team or athlete entails certain rules. You know what I’m talking about, here.
If you’re a Yankees fan, then a Red Sox fan probably hates your guts. If you’re a Maple Leafs guy, chances are your neighbor, the Habs fan, and you don’t get along. If you’re a Cowboys fan and your dad is a Redskins kind of guy, chances are you don’t talk much over Thanksgiving dinner. And if you’re Lebron James, well, everyone sort of hates you. That’s just the way it works.
MMA fandom has it’s rules, too. There’s the general ones, like “Boo every close decision no matter what” and “There’s no such thing as the wrong moment to start a USA chant!”. The one I’d like to focus on today is one of the foundational rules of the modern MMA fan: everything is GSP’s fault.
Boring fights. Bad matchmaking. Lopsided title matchups. Angry fans. The Hindenberg crash. Anything you can think of, cynical MMA fans are already blaming GSP for it. You want to be a “hardcore” MMA fan and not just one of those TapouT wearing “casuals”? Time to break with all your friends, tell your girlfriend she’s a lovestruck idiot, and start hating you some GSP.
Case in point: this whole GSP/Nick Diaz fiasco that went down this past week.
When Nick Diaz failed to show up to the UFC 137 press conference, I think most people’s reaction was “surprising, but not shocking.” When Dana White bounced Diaz from the main event because of it, people’s jaws fell a little closer to the floor. And when White then re-inserted Diaz back into the event – this time as the co-main event – people were downright floored.
The only thing that wasn’t surprising was Nick Diaz finding a way to blame it all on that filthy, filthy coward GSP.
Of course, Diaz also blamed his handlers, the UFC, the media, and the very institution of press conferences themselves for his inability to be even basically aware of his own affairs. His accusations lose some of their sting when they’re half weed-induced paranoia – and that’s the reasonable half.
Back on topic: blame GSP. It’s all his fault. When he heard Nick Diaz was being dropped from the title fight he should have stood up, ripped off his pinstripe suit Hulk Hogan-style, and demanded the original fight be put back together, brotha! But he didn’t, clearly because he’s deathly afraid of Nick Diaz.
GSP should have stuck his neck out for the completely unreliable, disrespectful, arguably undeserving challenger who can’t stop talking smack about him. And he should have done it solely because he took the time out of training to do his job like an idiot while Diaz stayed home, broke in his new bong, and played “Call of Duty” like a real man!
But alas, St. Pierre didn’t stick up for Diaz because, see, he’s not a “real fighter”. Hey, don’t take my word for it. According to Diaz, a “real fighter” like BJ Penn would throw down if, say, Diaz called him a little b*tch on the streets. Whereas GSP would need at least 3 months to come up with a gameplan, do some gymnastics, and fly out to Oakland to train with the Amber Lamps guy.
“Not a true fighter”.
What a strange thing for a #1 contender to call the champion he’s challenging. What a strange thing for so many fans to call the biggest crossover star in Mixed Martial Arts history.
Ask those fans why they think that, and the answer usually boils down to “he’s boring! He fights safe! He doesn’t finish people anymore! He doesn’t dominate and put away over matched competition, the way Anderson Silva does!”. Yes, because Anderson Silva’s never been in a boring fight, and always goes for the finish – just ask Thales Leites, Patrick Cote, or Demian Maia.
Yes, some of St. Pierre’s most recent fights have gone to decision, and haven’t exactly been barn-burners either. Luckily, the rule applies itself here again. Forget reasonable expectations for a fight, forget analysis and good judgment and basic common sense. Is a GSP fight boring? Then blame GSP – it’s as simple as that.
Like when he fights Jake Shields, a guy with elite level BJJ, a reputation as a grinder, and a chin capable of withstanding a Dan Henderson haymaker. What are the odds GSP is going to finish that guy? He probably isn’t a tighter BJJ player, and he probably can’t punch harder than Dan freakin’ Henderson. Combine that with Jake’s rep for slow, plodding fights, and you have what sounds to me like a surefire decision on your hands.
I’ve just described the normal, rational though process. That process doesn’t apply in this case, because it ignores the golden rule: blame GSP.
On second thought, this rule doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I need a little clarification here. GSP haters of the world: I turn to you.
Let’s assume the worst about him for a moment. Let’s assume everything you haters say about GSP is the gospel truth. Let’s assume for the moment that he’s a mentally weak, pillow-fisted front runner with a shaky set of whiskers and an aversion to risk, and in every fight he’s looking to jab, jab, double-leg to a decision win.
I have but two questions:
Why can’t this man be beat? If his strategy never changes, and he has all those obvious weaknesses, why can’t anybody beat him? Hell, why in the last three years – while fighting the toughest list of title challengers of any champion in MMA – has no one even come close?
And the second question: why is every boring fight entirely his fault? I mean Jake Shields said he was going to take GSP down and submit him. In the event, he didn’t connect on one single takedown. Why aren’t you guys mad at Jake for being so ineffective? Why don’t we hate him for not doing anything in that fight except trying to park his thumb in GSP’s eye socket?
Josh Koscheck said he was going to knock GSP out. For 25 minutes, GSP stood right in front of him, and he couldn’t get anything going, even before Georges broke his face. Don’t we hate him for abandoning his wrestling, abandoning his kickboxing, and forgetting to pull the trigger?
Dan Hardy knew he was going to fight GSP for months, and that his only chance to win was on the feet. Don’t we hate him for being so inadequate in his defensive wrestling?
For most fans, asking these sort of questions is both daunting, and unnecessary. Instead, let’s just agree to keep blaming GSP for the obvious reasons we’ll never admit to each other: he’s got a funny accent, our girlfriends would leave us for him, and he really doesn’t need or care about the support of hardcore MMA fans, the bastard.