By Jesse Holland
Special to UFCmania.com
There are many reasons to celebrate the new generation of UFC combatants. Whether it's the refined level of talent or the excitement they bring to the cage, there is truly much to be thankful for.
Then you have an incident like the one we reported to have taken place between Josh Burkman and Phil Baroni this past weekend and suddenly things don't look so promising.
Recently Floyd Mayweather (like many detractors) dismissed the skill involved with cage fighting by comparing it to nothing more than a bar fight with a referee and a time limit.
Champions of the sport rushed to the defense, criticizing the ignorance of a pugilist who doesn't realize he's on a sinking ship despite his wet feet.
It's no secret the UFC of yesteryear is a spectacle not unlike the one Mayweather depicts. However, it is through the evolution of the sport that fan and fighter alike have come to be admired.
That is of course until you have two simpletons like Baroni and Burkman slugging it out in a bar to prove who is the better man.
I've been around the block long enough to know that sometimes fisticuffs is inevitable. But as my friend Roger once said, fighting is basically admitting that you're not intelligent enough to resolve your differences through words.
As both a fan and a writer for UFCmania, I spend a great deal of time trying to convince the layman that the UFC is indeed a sport with real athletes and a real code of honor.
Goons like Burkman and Baroni don't make my job any easier.
I've always held the martial arts and its practitioners in relatively high esteem. Perhaps it's from growing up in a desolate area and having Kung-Fu theatre on Saturday afternoons as one of the few things I looked forward to on a weekly basis.
In movies like "A Hard Way to Die" and "Fists of the White Lotus" it was not the swaggering brute who chop-socky'd his way through town who I admired, but the quiet and reserved master who championed the plight of the weak.
The heroes, of course, were not flesh and blood, but an ideal created by the author who must have believed in a form of warrior spirit and in turn expressed a way of life for his actors to embody.
I know art imitates life, but in this case, I'm calling for a reversal of roles.
Is it fair for me as a fan of martial arts to hold present-day combatants to a code found in a work of fiction? Maybe, maybe not.
Perhaps if Burkman had been defending someone or something other than his massive ego, I might be more sympathetic. Like most barroom brawls, this too will be mired in a continuing battle of he said-he said.
In the end, I guess that's what has disappointed me the most. Instead of gloating about who got the better of the scuffle, they should be apologizing for calling negative attention to themselves and the sport.
The UFC is currently under intense scrutiny because of its rise in popularity and perceived threat to the establishment. Imbeciles like Colin Cowherd have been firing blanks for years.
Why now should we give them a magazine with live rounds?
Critics are desperate to divert attention from other sports like football and basketball, each having fallen on hard times. As we discovered during the NBA All Star game in Las Vegas, many of their athletes are nothing more than street thugs in a uniform.
In spite of this, Burkman still found it important to broadcast his run-in with Baroni. It was apparent from his depiction that it was also important for him declare himself the winner.
It's a shame that in the end he doesn't realize he's actually the loser.