Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will quietly jump the shark on Sat. night (Nov. 2, 2019) in New York City, where the baddest mother fucker, or “BMF” will be crowned at the conclusion of the UFC 244 pay-per-view (PPV) main event. I know all the cool kids are bro-fisting each other over the Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz headliner, being billed as a battle between east and west coast “gangsters.” But what other gangster in the history of gangsterdom has ever paraded around town with a made-up belt their boss gave them for doing a good job and making the company a lot of money?
That sounds exactly like the sort of thing that would get you beat up by a real gangster who would then steal the fake title and pawn it for a few extra bucks. Bullets ain’t cheap these days! Let’s also keep in mind that at the conclusion of the UFC 244 main event, the fake belt will be presented by a fake fighter. Hey, I love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as much as everyone else, but he’s a former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) champion-turned-Hollywood action hero who throws fake punches for a living. The BMF nonsense is a clever way for UFC to market a main event that lost its original title fight between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington, who will now headline UFC 245 next month in Las Vegas.
But as stupid as things have gotten over the last few weeks, I’m at least grateful that Dana White and Co. are forcing the fans to pick a side. I don’t mean “I’m rooting for Masvidal boyeeeeee” ... I mean the other two sides, sport vs. prize fighting. I get strongly-worded Emails quite regularly from the self-appointed purists who call for my resignation every time I post something from the world of pro wrestling because it’s “fake” and disrespectful to martial arts. I’ll then get lessons in honor and integrity and yadda-yadda-yadda. Folks, if you want all that Code of Honor crap, then stick to the dojo, because karate black belts competing in UFC have been awarded backstage bounties for revenge knockouts. Does that sound like something you learn in traditional martial arts? Maybe if your sensei is John Kreese.
I also have an issue with the way the BMF title casts a long shadow over two very talented combatants. Am I supposed to believe that storied veterans like Masvidal and Diaz can’t be promoted on their own merits? Masvidal (34-13) has been competing in UFC for over six years and went from hot-and-cold journeyman to the guy who kicked Darren Till out of the division before handing Ben Askren his first professional loss. He looks good, talks good, and has a tremendous backstory. So too, does Diaz (20-11), who captured The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 trophy and sent Conor McGregor to his first defeat inside the Octagon. I know haters like Colby Covington and Leon Edwards complain about a “BMF” main event featuring combatants who sport double digit losses, perhaps forgetting that “Gamebred” has more professional fights (47) than Covington and Edwards combined, and Diaz is not far behind at 31. When you start racking up those sorts of numbers, losses are inevitable.
But nobody seems to be talking about that because being “bad” is good enough. If you hate pro wrestling, think trash talk has no place in the business, or just want MMA to be treated like a real sport, then you have to be equally critical of the BMF belt and everything it stands for. You can’t play hopscotch on moral ground or let things slide because Masvidal and Diaz are “cool” or “badass.” Or we can just forget about all that and sit back, relax, and treat MMA like that old “King of the Mountain” game we used to play as kids. Everyone does what they need to do to get to the top and once they get there, they’e earned the right to brag about it.
Until the next “King” comes along and takes their place.