Monday, July 13, 2009
Can't We All (MMA, Boxing, & Pro Wrestling) Just Get Along?
Over the past 40 hours or so, I have heard a lot of feedback (including the link above) on Brock Lesnar and his post-fight "antics" and even commented some about them here yesterday. Some have called him a poor sport and bad for MMA while others hail him as a breath of fresh air. I personally did not agree with the Bud Light remark and maybe the wife line was a bit out of reach, though with all do respect, he does have one hell of a hot wife many would love to do as he said he might do in the former Sable aka Rena Mero as seen in Exhibit A:
That said, I think I have to agree with some I have heard and state that he may be the best thing for MMA right now.
However, one thing I have also noticed in this backlash is a certain general lack of respect from many fans of one form of fighting to other forms as well. Why is it so hard for some MMA fans to think that boxing and pro wrestling backgrounds automatically make a guy not up to their standards? And why do many wrestling fans look down on MMA and boxing? And why do so many boxing fans think MMA is not as skilled as boxing and wrestling it too fake to tolerate? As a great voice of our time, Rodney King, once said and I quoted in the title, "Can't we all just get along?"
First, let me explore the professional wrestling side since I have the most experience in this field with over 30 years of being a fan. Yes, matches are scripted and predetermined which very few debate anymore though asking the wrong person could get you the Dr. D David Schultz/John Stossel treatment as seen here:
Then again, I recommend you avoid the word "fake" anytime discussing this sport because whether you like it or have no respect for it at all, wrestlers work very hard and many suffers injuries weekly that they work through that most of us would be home for months trying to rehab if we suffered it. It is a different sport that focuses many times on entertainment and showmanship but it can also be entertaining if you allow yourself to watch. WWE likes to say they make action movies and sometimes, that is what wrestling is, a weekly action series. But when did it become so hip to simply bash wrestling to make yourself look more sophisticated. If you don't like it, that is fine but why can't some just keep it at that and not belittle something others seem to enjoy. After all, I don't like seafood but I don't refer to my wife as a loser because she wants to go to a seafood restaurant.
Boxing is a sport that has been successful for years and like wrestling, tends to go in cycles depending on what or who is involved at the time. Their buy rates have been known to be tremendous and you can usually find some good fights every week between ESPN, HBO, and Showtime. Witnessing firsthand the Pacquiao/Hatton experience between the fights, fan support, and action surrounding the fight, I can attest to the fact that boxing still has many fans who are as passionate about the sport as ever. For those who think boxing lacks name recognition, I ask you to check out Sugar Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and the Klitschko brothers. There are also many talented boxers who you may not know by name but if you gave them a chance, would impress you with their fighting ability. Not every weight division will bring a household name every year but take into consideration, it is a sports that has carried on for centuries and even former presidents took part in the sport. And yes, some crooked individuals over the years have promoted the sport or participated in it but judging a whole sport by a few bad apples would leave no sport to watch at all with that criteria.
MMA is the baby of the three, having only been around for a few years but growing in popularity every year. UFC alone has grown from no holds barred cage fights into a multi-million dollar company being sanctioned by many state athletic committees with gyms growing everyday for wannabe fighters to learn the ropes. Many naive critics, including politicians, still refer to it as human cock fighting, but I refer to them as ignorant so I guess we are even. StrikeForce is a growing company and Affliction has run a couple entertaining pay per views to help spread the amount of access an MMA fan can get, not to mention groups like the WEC and others who can provide some top notch fights from time to time. I know some are bored when the matches get to the ground and pound portion as I have heard the critiquing, but the more you understand about the sport, the more you will appreciate all aspects of it including the ground game. Brock Lesnar is the perfect example because his last fight with Frank Mir was a loss after dominating the whole match when Mir got a hold of him leg and forced him to tap out. Sometimes, just when you think it might look boring, one punch or hold out of nowhere and the match is over and could provide one hell of an exciting finish (ask Bisbing about Henderson's right hand for example). There is a strategy/game plan in all matches and one mistake could cost you the match and it requires a lot of hard work and months of preparation before a match takes place so it is not just two guys punching each other until one falls down. In fact, many MMA fighters are skilled in martial arts,wrestling, boxing and other backgrounds that make them all around successful in the business.
The truth is, all three have their positive and negative aspects of the sports but none of them are nearly as bad as their most negative of critics like to make them out to be. I personally find myself to be a fan of all three and depending on the upcoming event, such as the August StrikeForce fight with Gina Carano/Cris Cyborg or wondering if Pacquaio boxes Mosley, Cotto, or Mayweather next, I become a huge fan of the event. I don't feel a need to simply be a part of a growing sports or get lost in the history of the other, I enjoy a good show no matter who is putting it on. Sure, I have my favorites like StrikeForce, TNA Wrestling, and Manny Pacquiao but I am looking for the best show without labeling a whole sport as boring or stupid.
There is room out there for all three to be successful even in this economy, as noted by the early reports I have seen that UFC 100 did possibly exceed 1.5 million in buy rates. I personally think all three charge too much for their pay per view shows but they will never lower it due to the costs to run them and successes like this but I will not let that make me be any less of a fan, I just look more forward to the free shows. So I content we all just get along and help keep all three prosperous and relish in the personalities that help make it a more exciting business. So stop jeering Brock Lesnar just because he is a former pro wrestler who happens to be successful quickly in MMA and embrace him for wanting to be the best at what he does and a champion. Don't mock boxing for being boring and for the lack of big name fighters especially when statements like that make you appear to be ignorant about the sport. And don't mock MMA because your guy went to their sport and dominated it because it will not happen every time, it just so happens that Brock Lesnar is a beast of nature with a great work ethic and God given size to help dominate a fight. All three sports require a lot of training, hours a day in a gym, and skills unmatched to be successful and I think maybe if more people gave all three a chance, we would all benefit from watching some great fights/shows together. Or maybe I just have a bit too much hippie in me who wants us all to get along and watch all of them prosper together and be one big, happy family. I am a fan of all three and I think if more people went into them with an open mind and some respect, they would be as well.