UFC 2012: Was Pat Barry's 'Roaches' Take on MMA Fans Fair?

Matt SaccaroContributor IIIOctober 15, 2012

NEW YORK - MARCH 06:   UFC heavyweight Pat Barry speaks at a press conference at Radio City Music Hall on March 06, 2012 in New York City.  UFC announced that their third event on the FOX network will take place on Saturday, May 5 from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J.. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Fighters have a sense of entitlement, and why shouldn't they? They're tough, athletic men who could crush most other human beings into dust.

However, that sometimes leads fighters into saying (or believing) things that are faulty or otherwise execrable—like UFC heavyweight Pat Barry believing that MMA fans who express their opinions verbally (read: booing) are, as he put it, "Roaches."

"That's why I call them roaches," Barry said on a video he posted on his YouTube channel in response to an incident he had with a booing fan. "There are more of them than us. They're never going to go away. They're feeble creatures...They're just a bunch of [expletive] roaches, running around. They're everywhere, can't escape them."

This view is awful, but what's worse is that a group of MMA fans actually endorse this belief! Just spend five minutes on the legendary MMA message board, The Underground, to see one poster raise a point only to be shot down by dozens of people going "Well you don't TRAIN/FIGHT so how could you possibly have anything worthwhile to say?"

Just look at the highest-rated comment of Barry's video, which is a response to a rant against Barry's views:

"Oh, I see. You are one of the roaches who hasn't ever competed in a combat sport," the comment said. Many of the other 400-odd comments echo this sentiment. 

The notion that only someone who has fought can offer criticism is not only laughable, but it shouldn't matter in the context of booing a fight. 

Fighters and fighter-worshipping fans might not realize this, but the sport of MMA, as well as the UFC's popularity, only exists because of fans like the one mentioned in Barry's video. Casual fans who spend their money on the sport for a night of entertainment, a night where they can forget about political chicanery in the news and workplace politics and just enjoy phantasmagorical displays of violence, symphonies of strikes and submissions.

Look at the sport before The Ultimate Fighter and the emergence of the casual, Spike TV-watching fan; there was a reason those times were called "The Dark Ages."

Yes, fans may have been more respectable, but the sport as a whole was in a much worse place and money was extremely scarce.

Now, the sport is approaching the mainstream (and some might argue that it is mainstream already) and is therefore being plagued with mainstream problems—the foremost one being that fighters will be criticized and booed at some point in their careers and there is absolutely nothing they can do to stop it.

The sport is driven by money, not a nonexistent warrior code of honor. Being vocally unsatisfied with the results of a fight/event that you spent money on via tickets and travel expenses does not make a fan a roach—it doesn't make them anything.

When paying customers don't get what they want, they tend to not be happy about it. There's no sin in that.

If a football game is a dud, do fans flock to the Internet to decry all those who criticize the game's lack of excitement as feeble pretenders who don't deserve to assess a football game because they never suited up and played on the gridiron?

No, because such a notion is absurd.

Fans have every right to boo and to be upset with how fights play out—that is their right as paying customers. I'm all for educating oneself on how the sport works and have trained myself to the point of being sidelined with injury, but what I'm not for is berating the people who helped make the sport successful and who keep a roof over the fighters' heads—the fans.