We've all seen that one person at every MMA event randomly booing, yelling out profanities and fist-pumping in a tight, armpit-soiled flaming skull and cross T-shirt.
In America, this type of individual is typically referred to as a bro or "that guy."
Unfortunately, the movement is spreading in the world of MMA. There is no longer that one guy boozing it up while feigning to be the toughest man on the planet. "That guy" has quickly become "that girl," which has recently spread to "that group" and "that city." There is just one lingering question.
Are there any educated and respectable American MMA fans left in this world?
The posed question is admittedly a bit overdramatic. Educated and respectable American MMA fans do exist, and some are reading this article right now. Unfortunately, their representation is only a minority in comparison to the countless casual fans.
A lack of understanding and a refusal to become enlightened is one of the primary roadblocks hindering the progress of American fans. MMA mirrors real life so much that even the most uneducated fans feel like they understand fighting. No one put it better than UFC President Dana White during his interview with Forbes:
"At the end of the day, we're all human beings, and fighting is in our DNA, man. We get it, and we like it."
The average person couldn't fathom dunking a basketball like Michael Jordan or making a spectacular one-handed catch like NFL receiver Randy Moss. Most human beings can easily relate to the concept of punching another person in the face. In MMA, everyone feels like an expert.
For those in doubt, go to your local pub and listen to the "experts" break down and compare themselves to top UFC fighters. Yours truly has even had the pleasure of watching an inebriated individual stand up and shadow box in front of an entire restaurant in an attempt to showcase his "world class" skills.
It doesn't take much these days to convince a man that is 20-0 behind a local fast-food establishment that he's ready for the big leagues.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has already gone on record to express his resentment towards American fans. During an interview with ESPN UK, he called American fans "the most negative MMA crowd ever."
"I would honestly say the American crowd is the most negative MMA crowd ever," said Rampage.
"Look at Junior Dos Santos, he put on a great fight [against Cain Velasquez] and he got booed. They cheered him when he walked in there and then booed him after a great fight. I don't understand that."
The UFC 155 championship rematch between Dos Santos and Velasquez represented American fandom at its worst.
Dos Santos, who was completely dominated by Velasquez, never wavered in the face of adversity. Despite taking a severe beating early in the fight, he stood his ground and put on a heartfelt and gutsy performance that should have been celebrated by the masses.
Instead, Dos Santos was booed out of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., after laying everything on the line and losing the UFC title.
"Why are you guys doing that? Why," Dos Santos asked in his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan.
There isn't a complex answer to Dos Santos' question. Fans were booing simply because they could.
American fans buy into the UFC product and forget that there are actual human beings competing in a dangerous sport. There is no gratitude or understanding. It all comes back to the hard-earned American dollar. After spending money, people believe they have a right to do whatever they want.
Sadly, these individuals aren't wrong. Tickets and pay-per-view prices for UFC events aren't exactly on the cheap side. When they buy into the product, fans have a right to cheer or boo whenever they want, but is it always right?
It wasn't right in Dos Santos' case, and it certainly wasn't right in Benson Henderson's case, either.
At UFC on FOX 7, fans were infuriated by Henderson's decision victory over Gilbert Melendez. After the fight, an act non-related to MMA took place that usually brings about joy and excitement.
Henderson got down on one knee and proposed to longtime girlfriend Maria Magana. Unfortunately, the champ's life-altering moment didn't quell the boo birds, as a chorus of boos showered both him and his soon-to-be fiancée during the proposal.
Respect is the only thing separating American fans from the rest of the world. In the States, fighters are booed for taking the fight to the ground and needing breaks for accidental eye pokes or shots below the belt. Foreign fighters are sometimes booed for the inability to speak English.
Perhaps boos are better than the random, Hacksaw Jim Duggan-like "USA" chants that tend to break out from time to time. There is nothing wrong with being patriotic, but it is a bit disconcerting when nationalities are confused and chants occur in bouts between two Americans or a pair of non-American fighters.
In countries like Japan, a pen dropping can be heard in an arena during a fight. They have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the sport. It boils down to culture as well. American sport fans are typically loud and amped up for events, which isn't always a bad thing.
This kind of fandom makes events seem larger than life by breathing excitement and emotion into the atmosphere. People can literally see the excitement jumping out at them from a TV screen within the comfort of their living rooms.
Like every other country, American fans have their issues, but it wouldn't be fair to call them the "worst MMA fans in the world." Most UFC events take place in the States, which tends to distort the negative impressions.
There have been plenty of quality American crowds during live UFC events, and other countries have had their share of blunders. In the end, it all comes down to the individual, and certain people are going to act out regardless of what country they live in.
So don't be afraid to throw on a signature T-shirt, pop open a cold one and boo alongside your fellow bro at a UFC event. This is 'Merica, and as long as you've paid your hard-earned dollar, you have the right to boo whoever the hell you want.
We only ask that you do so respectfully.
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