As you're already certainly aware, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) handed Jon Fitch and 15 other mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters on its roster their walking papers earlier today (Feb. 20, 2013). The Internet reaction -- like this one from fellow Welterweight counterpart, Dan Hardy -- has been swift, as it always is in this day and age of a 24-hour media cycle.
And a fairly large majority of fight fans have called it some level of bovine excrement.
In all honesty, I'm not going to really argue for or against it. Personally, I think it's a bit disappointing for the legitimacy of the sport, as well as says a lot about the organization that it is willing to release a Top 10-ranked fighter for reasons that seemingly have nothing to do with winning inside its Octagon.
At the end of the day, UFC has its business reasons -- right or wrong. And I'm not about to shed any tears.
That's because aside from the really hardcore MMA fans, whose membership is seemingly dwindling over time, not too many people really give a damn about this ... at all. As in, they won't even know about this ... ever.
Unfortunately, more people are going to read Kim Kardashian's next tweet than are going to read about Jon Fitch being cut by the UFC, and more people will care what a bunch of actors are wearing this coming Sunday by a factor of something like 20.
Who cares about those people, Braito? Okay, fine, more people care about that crap than pretty much anything this sport does anyway, so perhaps that isn't the best comparison; however, do you know who else doesn't care about this? The rest of the people who do watch this sport frequently and/or casually.
The casual fanbase almost certainly has the following generalizations to make about Fitch and this situation. For starters, they probably don't care too much for the relentless American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)-trained grinder. His style of fighting is not the most crowd-pleasing in the "JUST BLEED!" kind of way. Yes, he had a much more exciting fight against Erick Silva, but he's also had 17 UFC fights, the vast majority of which were slow, methodical, grinding decision wins.
So he's not an entertaining fan favorite, and the callous among them will probably say "good riddance," just as a few of the callous among the hardcores feel, too.
Secondly, the casual UFC fan doesn't read MMA websites. The only way they'll ever find out about this is if one of their hardcore friends tells them through word of mouth about this. We live in a great bubble here where everyone cares passionately about this sport on some level.
For example, my best friend is a decidedly casual fan who will buy a pay-per-view (PPV) every now and then and go to a chain sports bar for a good number of events. I asked him if he had any plans for the card this weekend, and his response was "who is fighting?"
Can you imagine that? This is a guy who will spend money at a bar for the specific intent to watch a UFC event. A guy who will occasionally get together with a group of friends to shell out $60 for a PPV and he is clueless about upcoming fight card line ups.
And he is not alone ... not by a longshot.
How many Ronda Rousey articles are getting posted every day here on MMAmania.com -- Three, five, 18? Passionate readers in our "bubble" are posting that they're sick and tired of having this card forced down their throats, while the rest of the mainstream combat sports remains largely unaware. Think about that for a moment: This classic "fan" didn't even know who was fighting this weekend in the "historic," first-ever female main event. Meanwhile, we're forced to watch 13 different video clips of Rousey or Liz Carmouche on "Countdown," "SportsCenter," "Esquire" and on and on and on ...
Indeed, casual fans do not know or care about what we care about -- we are the MMA minority. Let that sink in for a moment in case its a new concept -- we are the core of the fans here, but there is a ton more fans out there than us.
UFC 147 did something like 140,000 PPV buys, which is almost all us. Casual fans by and large did not give a rat's ass about Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva in a rematch to the point where they were going to buy it. That is the floor. The ceiling is the ubiquitous UFC 100 that did 1.6 million buys. There are, therefore, roughly 10 times more casual fans than there are hardcore fans.
And that majority just do not know, nor care, about Jon Fitch getting cut.
They never bought a PPV or made plans to watch Jon Fitch fight in their lives and probably never will. And those hardcore fans who are true Fitch fans, who can appreciate his workmanlike approach to winning -- he nearly held the record for most consecutive victories inside the Octagon right behind Anderson Silva -- amount to a pimple on a whale.
It's a sad, but very real MMA reality.
In the end, UFC decided to cut Fitch for reasons we may not truly know, but it likely has something to do with his mix of personality, fight style, cost per fight and risk he poses to up-and-coming talent.
It's a sad, but very real UFC reality.
But, it won't have any sort of long-term effect on the sport at all. None. That's because no one who matters -- the majority of casual UFC / MMA fans -- is going to know about it anytime soon, much less care about it in the future.