If you follow MMA for any length of time you’ll inevitably hear fans and media cry out some form of the statement, “_________ is going to kill the sport!” or “__________ is going to set the sport back 10 years!” In fact it seems you’re not a real fan of the sport unless you make that assertion about anything from a bad stoppage, questionable judges decision, or an off color statement or action from a fighter and/or promoter (looking at you, DW), or even a movie depicting MMA in a less than 100% accurate way. Look, I get it. MMA Fans have the loyalty of a neighborhood gang and feel that, since they most likely endured a god awful season of The Ultimate Fighter at the beginning of their fandom, that they have been beaten in for life. While I certainly understand and appreciate the attitude behind this loyalty--as a lifelong, undying, and unwavering Seahawks fan--the only thing that is going to kill or set back the sport is, in fact, the fans continually declaring it dying or setback.
To say that Miguel Torres or Forrest Griffin making a stupid Tweet, Steve Mazzagatti making a bad stoppage, Kevin James making an MMA movie, or Dana White cussing out, well, everybody, for that matter, is going to kill the sport or set it back you’re missing the underlying principle about sports fans: they’ll overlook anything as soon as you give them something to cheer for.
Floyd Mayweather’s PPV buyrate wasn’t hampered by domestic abuse charge. NFL ratings haven’t changed in spite of the referees. Michael Vick just got a dog and nobody cares. Fans still showed up to games after Ron Artest had his episode. And if you really think that “Paul Blart Does MMA,” as some have labeled Kevin James’ new movie, “Here Comes the Boom” is going to hurt MMA let me remind you of a few movies: The Replacements (Football), The Fan (Baseball), Snake Eyes (Boxing), and Juwanna Mann (Basketball).
Bad movies and bad behaviors come and go, but fans continue to watch the sports they love as long as there is something to cheer about--and with MMA, there is always something to cheer about. The reality is that people who like watching fights are going to continue to watch people fight. The frequent overreactions of fans just go to prove that MMA has a loyal fanbase and is not going to go anywhere but up as new people are introduced to the sport every day.
Nick Higgins is a freelance MMA writer, musician, and all around doer of cool things. Follow him on Twitter @UndercardNick