I was never much of a fan of boxing. I liked the Mexican fighters because they seemed to fight all the time (unlike heavyweights). But I really did not follow any boxer and did not tune in for any particular fight.
Well, except for one boxer. “Prince” Naseem Hamed! Before his downward spiral outside of the ring, the cat was the most entertaining guy in boxing. He was brash. He was arrogant. He was fun. And he was having fun. Just watch this compilation of his matches off of YouTube…
Some “purist” in boxing hated his antics. But, you know, I think that is what made him great. It was not like he was getting killed. He had the talent and skill to back up his cockiness.
And, at its base, what is boxing? Two guys (or gals now) getting in the ring and beating the shit out of each other. It is a test of manhood. It is not about “respecting” the other opponent. You are there to punch the other guy in the face and body!!! Yeah, that is respectful.
Now, yes, there are rules and regulations that dictate fighting and what can and cannot be done in the ring. So no punching in the junk or biting ears!
But beyond that, get in there and “have a good, clean fight.” FIGHT! Not play patty-cake! You are there to fight the other guy!!!
Everything else is just for spectacle. It is hype. The fight itself is the actual substance. All the posturing and trash-talking; all of the elaborate entrances; all of that crap is secondary and not dictated by anything except those mythical “unwritten rules.”
Now, whether or not you respect your opponent is up to you. But nothing in boxing ever stated that in order to be a boxer, you must respect your opponent.
Is it bad sportsmanship not to shake your opponents hand? Sure. Well, maybe. Maybe it is part of it. I think it was Larry Bird who recently noted how unusual it is to see basketball players hugging each other before a game or going to dinner together afterwards. You are competitors; not friends!
And this gets to the fallout of Brock Lesnar’s “celebration” after destroying Frank Mir.
After the fight, Lesnar apparently got in his beaten opponent’s face, flipped off the already booing crowd, in a post-fight interview said he crush some Coors Light since Bud Light was not paying him and that he would give his wife the pickle-tickle.
Oh god no! Not that!
MMA purist (is there such a thing?) cried! Lesnar, who was basically handed his shot at the title by UFC president Dana White, lacks respect. Respect for his opponent, respect for the sponsors, respect for the fans. Respect in general.
The outcry over Lesnar’s antics is disingenuous. This is an activity/competition that thrives on the fighting aspect. No one tunes in to watch respect.
The pedestrian viewers of MMA watch for the big knock out. The more nuanced viewers watch for the tactical nature of it.
But neither are going, “I cannot wait for the handshake at the end.”
MMA is about the fight itself. Just like boxing. All the antics — pre-fight talking, ring entrances, celebrating someone getting knocked the fuck out, post-fight talking — are secondary. Little, if anything, dictates that a fight must or must not trash talk. In fact, I would wager that it, at least in the pre-fight setting, is encouraged.
Here are the rules to the UFC. Please point out the rule that states one fighter must show respect to the opposition, or the fans.
As for those fans, let’s be clear about something. It was evident from the get-go that MMA “purists” hated Brock Lesnar even before his first fight in the UFC. Perhaps it was because he had already hit it big well before making it to “real” fighting. Maybe it was his quick ascension to contender (sounds like Notre Dame football).
Whatever the reason, traditionalists hate him. His actions, while perhaps exaggerated and a bit over-the-top, are no different than fighters before him.
Is it any worse than a fighter pretending to dig a grave? Is it any worse than a fighter saying he is going to cave in someone’s face? Is it any different than dancing after KO’ing someone?
Tons of respect there, yeah? The difference is that the purist attach to fighters who came up through the ranks. Thus, they can do no wrong because they “earned” the right to dig graves and dance.
Fans hate Lesnar because he did not earn his way in, and I can accept that. But he, in turn, can flip off all the fans he wants. Those that hate him are going to no matter what he does. There is nothing he can do to turn them around, so might as well roll with it. Dana White and UFC might claim they do not want “bad guys,” but fans are going to decide who they like and who they do not regardless. Face it, in the words of wrestling promote Paul Heyman, Lesnar is the perfect bad guy for the UFC. And, by the way, bad guys sell!
Take this comment from an article on Bleacher Report:
Granted [Tito] Ortiz’s gravedigger routine is a form of taunting, but it was more for show then out of anger. He looked to the crowd for a reaction and got one. His shirts [ones that “Gay Mezger is my Bitch” and whatnot] became fan favorites, he actually sold them through his clothing line. It was a way of increasing income and gaining notoriety. While Ortiz has never been an exemplary sportsman, he has been first and foremost, a businessman. He is strategic in his attacks on fellow fighters and attempts to create a buzz.
Again, Ortiz does it and he is “creating buzz.” Lesnar does it and he is a douchebag. Nothing like homophobe to show respect!
And, the more Lesnar is hated, the more people will tune in to watch him fight…in hopes he taps out or gets knocked out. That seems to be good for business and why White has not dismissed Lesnar from the UFC.
As for the sponsorship snub, it happens all the time in every sport. Jeff Gordon, a Pepsi guy (sponsored by Pepsi, actually), would quickly remove any Coca-Cola “gifts” and whatnot for a Pepsi memoribilia. Coca-Cola might sponsor the race, but not Gordon. Makes sense, even though racing purists bitched.
Lesnar is in the same boat. It is a greedy thing to say that you refuse to drink Bud Light because they did not pay you. But he does not have to support that beer. If he wanted a PBR, he has the right to that. Get over it!
As for the wife comment…I thought it was hilarious. When did an organization that is predicated on fighting, with scantily-clad “Octogon Girls,” become politically correct?
The biggest bitching and moaning in all of this is that Lesnar’s antics “sets the sport [sic] back.”
First, it does not set MMA back at all. How much buzz has been generated because of what Lesnar did? Hell, once again I am writing about MMA on a sports website! People will tune in because of what Lesnar did…they will not turn/stay away from it. If they were not going to watch before UFC 100, they were not going to watch anyway.
Second, if Lesnar’s antics bothers people, especially other fighters, then do something about it. A fighter will step up and attempt to shut up Lesnar with his fighting. That is the best way to stop a talker.
As for fans, some have claimed they will not buy another pay-per-view that Lesnar is a part of, but I say bullshit. White is a smart man and knows Lesnar sells. He will put on popular fighters on the same card with Lesnar to ensure that purists cannot stay away. Even if they turn it off before Lesnar’s match, the fans have already paid for the PPV.
All of this adds to the list of reasons why I cannot get into MMA. It is an activity that sells itself to the “mainstream” on its brutal knockouts (right, Dan Henderson?) and brutality. Yet, those involved are going to complain when someone is not “respectful”?
The only person in MMA that Lesnar owes any respect to is Dana White. Beyond that, well, I guess Lesnar’s two middle fingers speak louder than words.
The only thing Lesnar failed to do is scream, “Are you not entertained!?” Apparently, some are not.