5 MMA Things That Need to Go Away Right Now
Let me kick this slideshow off with a bit of breaking news: Nobody's perfect.
MMA is not a "body." I get it, stickler. But it's also not perfect, thereby rendering that phrase still relevant.
The main thrust is that most people, organizations, agencies and entities of all kinds learn at some point in their maturation stage is that you must embrace these flaws. Turn into the skid, as it were. Only in doing so will salvation appear, and true betterment occur.
Well, MMA hasn't learned that. Does that suggest it is immature? Yes. But plenty of companies and individuals keep committing the same errors, which, in some quarters, is the very definition of insanity.
You could argue, however, that people and groups who are made explicitly aware of these mistakes but continue making them (sometimes even more fervently out of spite or stubbornness) are even crazier. You could argue that.
In any case, here are five things MMA doesn't get right. Not just the UFC, not just the fighters, not just the fans, but the entire community. And these five things need to stop. Please.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan is at the head of the pack, but he's far from the only member of the herd.
His sidekick in the booth, play-by-play man Mike Goldberg, is pretty shrill himself at times, as is Bellator color guy Jimmy Smith and AXS TV announcer Michael Schiavello (who I personally like, but he still screams a lot).
When it's a visceral, organic reaction, hey, that's great. But these guys scream like they're doing primal therapy in a shrink's office. An ineffective shrink, because the cure never seems to arrive.
It's a well that dries up quickly, and it dried long ago. So can we just be cool? Come on, try it. Let's all just be cool.
"Face the Pain"
This is a common source of complaints. And it will continue to be a common source of complaints until it's no longer the UFC's de facto theme song.
It's dated and shrill, but even worse, it represents a form of choir-preaching that is endemic to MMA. The rowdy boys and bro dogs are going to watch anyway. Why not show you're receptive to (and appropriate for) a wider segment of people?
In many ways, the intro song is the welcome mat for your program. Why not make it a larger welcome mat? A welcome mat that's going to make people stop and wipe their feet. Does "Face the Pain" do that for anyone except those people who were going to watch anyway? In a word, no.
So, yes. New welcome mat. This one's worn out. It also abjectly sucks.
Performance-Enhancing Substances and Practices
This one should be self-explanatory.
The sport, led by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, has been taking strides to clean things up of late. Banning special exemptions for testosterone-replacement therapy and random drug testing have happened and are yielding results.
But it has to keep going. The sport has a reputation as being unclean, and it doesn't have much to do with the tattoos and ratty facial hair. Well, maybe it does a little. But you get the idea. Like baseball before it, MMA has to reach a point where people no longer assume a fighter is playing dirty.
I won't rehash the highly disrupted topic of UFC events, most specifically the dramatic increase in them, the declining buys for pay-per-views, the tepid TV ratings or the UFC's oft-stated reasons for this direction they are taking.
Instead, let me cut to my own particular chase: Don't make me watch two events in one day. Or events on consecutive days, for that matter.
If your best rebuttal to people who just want to see your product is "don't see it," well, that doesn't feel like a sustainable strategy.
What happens when people start to comply? I tell you one thing, there aren't many bigger MMA fans than me, but I also have other things going on, like family time and showering. I've only got so many two-event days in me, and I might already have hit the lifetime limit. Especially if you keep putting James Te Huna in the main event.
There's a difference between criticism and dogged pessimism. Many MMA fans are in the latter camp. Some even border on fatalism.
It might be a reaction to the executive classes' dogged "nothing is ever wrong" mentality. But the sport's most dedicated, most engaged supporters are also its most bearish.
Cynicism is a cool look these days, across all segments of society. I understand. No one wants to look surprised. Everyone's in the know. But some fight fans are at a new level, with every informational nugget, large or small, representing yet another sign of the MMA apocalypse.
Every day, in the eyes of these fans, the bird of prey arrives anew to disembowel them and the sport they love. Everyone is evil! Everyone's on the take! The sport is dying! I'm embarrassed to be a fan! Brock Lesnar and Kimbo Slice are the dual signs of the end times that were foretold to me in a dream! I'm the only intelligent person paying any attention!
Relax, fans. MMA is a different kind of sport. But it's also just a sport. A sport to be enjoyed, and one that has a solid (if nichey) foothold on the sports landscape.
Though there are certainly very real and substantial flaws to be dealt with (see the other slides), you don't need to put on the tin-foil hats and play the gloomy music in order to demonstrate insider knowledge. What is the end goal of this?
Relax, doomsaying fan. The sky is still there. Try relaxing and enjoying the sport you claim to enjoy.
Scott Harris covers both the serious and silly aspects of MMA, sometimes at the same time. Follow Scott on Twitter if you feel so inclined.