Oh, these silly Ultimate Fighters.
Despite Greg Jackson's exhortations between rounds, stubborn "Cowboy," Donald Cerrone, chose to stand directly in front of Nate Diaz for all three rounds of their UFC 141 slobberknocker last night (Dec. 30, 2011) in Las Vegas, Nevada.. At the post-fight press conference, he revealed why.
He could have phrased it a lot better, though.
A battered Cerrone informed the gathered media that Nate Diaz, who has expressed disdain in the past for wrestlers with the gall to do what they needed to to win, didn't want to to "any of that gay wrestling shit".
Oh, boy.After getting soundly outgrappled by the larger Dong Hyun Kim, Nate told the media that, essentially, he didn't need to work on his wrestling, but the rules needed to stop helping wrestlers. It seems that getting manhandled by Rory MacDonald in his very next fight didn't change his mind.
But what's truly troubling is the adjective he (or possibly Cerrone, depending on whether he added to the quote) used to describe it.
The wrestling aspect of MMA has been described as "gay" for as long as the sport has been around. Fossilized blowhard Bob Arum once berated mixed martial artists for "rolling around on the ground like a bunch of homosexuals," and following UFC lightweight Anthony Njokuani's submission loss to Shane Roller, the Nigerian posted the following message on his Twitter page:
"Roller wants to come out and say that it was easy. I don't think so. Let me be in the right state of mind and will see if its easy, fag. Be a man and stand. We're here to fight not make love."
Njokuani did go on to get knocked clean out standing by Polish banger Maciej Jewtuszko in his next fight, but the karmic retribution wasn't enough to erase the significance of the quote. Michael Bisping has also gone on record saying he "fought like a fag" against Dan Miller and used that word as his go-to insult before his fight against Jorge Rivera.
Perhaps it's just sour apples on the parts of the fighters (considering that both Cerrone and Diaz both go for takedowns when they think they can get them), and I can already hear the fans shaking their heads and telling the media to grow thicker skin, but this is really a legitimate issue.
Like it or not, the UFC is making every effort to become more mainstream; the FOX deal is the major example, but the Twitter bonuses and harsh penalties involved in saying the wrong thing are also indicative of their efforts to become more than a niche sport. Having half of it, the half that most new fans will likely be more ignorant about (punching people in the head tends to be a pretty universally-understood thing) insulted by the fighters themselves isn't helping anything.
And that's not even mentioning the homophobia .. and it is homophobia. The people insulting ground fighters are using implied homosexuality as an insult, like they're lesser men for using it. Alienating an increasingly vocal segment of the population, one that includes Neil Patrick Harris (who is twice the man any of these guys are), is also less-than-helpful.
With the UFC cracking down on rape references, it's disheartening to see them doing nothing to fix a detrimental stereotype that the fighters seem only too happy to propagate.
Baby steps, I suppose.