Nowadays it seems like most people like jumping to conclusions faster than the time it takes for a bad rumor to spread. Frankly, there is a lot of groupthink in the MMA community, so all it takes is a handful of influential people with a couple of thousand followers to deem a card unfit for watching- and that is the consensus opinion. However, if you spend the time to look up the fighters, and watch the actual fight, you will see why MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world: Fights are almost always awesome.
UFC Fight Night Cards
There are a ton of eyeballs on the UFC each week, and now that the fight night cards don’t have any fans and the numbered cards do, it makes sense the UFC would save their notable fighters for when they can sell tickets and pay-per-views. That is going to in turn lead to less recognizable names for Fight Nights. With that being the case, the UFC is still home to the best fighters in the world, and at any given time something spectacular can happen in the sport of MMA. The rush to bash a card is before it happens makes about the same amount of sense as wearing water wings on an airplane in case of a crash.
UFC Vegas 40: Ladd vs. Dumont
The lead-up to this card had all of the UFC Twitterverse clamoring about how awful the card will be. “The worst card in UFC history” many claimed. How many of those claimed that took time to look into the fighters and the matchup, and in turn watched the card? As someone who DID research the fights and matchups, they were sneaky good. Many folks will dismiss a card as bad just because they don’t see any recognizable names, which is a shame. The casual approach of looking for names you know is a very human trait, but we must overcome that initial reaction. Andrei Arlovski overcame a late surge by younger challenger Carlos Felipe which lead to an exciting finish and decision for the UFC vet who had his career start before Y2K. We saw Jim Miller get a 2nd round KO in his 38th UFC fight, and a massive upset for fan-favorite Nate Landwehr, who submitted L’udovit Klein in the third round. With multiple upset on the card, anyone who skipped it because of the chatter surely missed out. Good thing you can watch it on ESPN+.
UFC Vegas 38: Santos vs. Walker
On the heels of UFC 266, many overlooked Thiago Santos’ matchup against exciting up-and-coming Johnny Walker, but that was a mistake. The card was chock full of great matchups, including the main event, that seemingly a majority of fight fans missed after reeling from the excitement of Alexander Volkanovski’s superhuman performance against Brian Ortega the week prior. Alex Oliveria and Niko Price had a firefight matchup that could have gone either way, and not a single takedown was attempted in the fight. Alex Hernandez had a stunning KO in the first round against 10-3 Mike Breeden. On the undercard, Karol Rosa and Casey O’Neil turned in eye-opening performances that will surely move them up the rankings, and up the card.
UFC Rumor Mill
Far too often, fans want to be the first to have a thought or take on something that happened. Usually, these take come without full or even half of the information of the actual event. This applies to fight announcements, fighter withdrawals, and it is especially prevalent in reactions to the fighter’s game plans and cornering.
Some recent examples: Aspen Ladd‘s longtime coach and boyfriend Jim west’s mid-round advice, “the Iceman” Chuck Liddell’s entanglement with police over the alleged domestic dispute, and finally, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson’s reason for pulling out of his fight. MMA Twitter jumped all over these incidents with little to no knowledge of what was going on, and when the facts came out-there was a lot of egg on a lot of faces.
Aspen Ladd and Jim West
During the break between rounds 4 and 5, Jim West (longtime coach and boyfriend of Ladd) was caught on the telecast giving some harsh words of criticism to his fighter. “Tell me what you are doing, ” he yells, as she is walking to the corner. Miesha Tate, who Ladd has criticized and been criticized by, tweeted “ABUSE” in regards to the cornering. Personalities like Ariel Helwani chimed in, bringing the coaching to the public who may not have been watching. Fighters like Lando Vannata and Vince Morales also came to Ladd’s defense during the fight. However, when BT sport released the entire clip of the conversation that took place between each round, all four of them, it put into context why West was so frustrated by the 4th intermission.
Throughout the fight, Jim West’s tone got more and more aggressive when his fighter continued to ignore the advice from her corner. In the final break in the action, the coach was doing anything he could to fire up his fighter to propel her to a win, similar to the final break before the third round against Yana Kunitskaya– where Ladd got the ground and pound win minutes after the talk. Had Ladd won, would there have been controversy? Had fans known the context of the conversation and emotion, would they have jumped down West’s throat? Either way, Jim West may deserve an apology from MMA Twitter. Besides, doesn’t it matter what the FIGHTER thinks of her coaching more than people who are not involved?
Chuck Liddell made the news regarding a domestic altercation and the MMA community may have been quick on the trigger with their reactions due to other incidents of domestic violence in the news by UFC fighters around the same time. Fans were calling for Liddell to be jailed, and some wanted him removed from the UFC’s Hall of Fame before any news about the exchange came to light. After days of media and individuals smearing the Iceman, it came out that he was actually the victim, went to jail so his wife didn’t have to, and was, according to the report, trying to de-escalate the whole situation. Chuck turned out to look pretty good after the truth came out, and his request for privacy was met by the media- but there were no retractions or apologies issued. In a world where everyone wants to be first and unique, we often forget the matter we discuss are not figments of our imagination, but real people with real families and feelings, and the world may be a better place if that is kept in mind more frequently.
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson
Rumble Johnson was supposed to meet Vadim Nemkov for the Bellator Light Heavyweight championship on Oct. 16th but had to pull out a month early citing an illness. Many fans were upset and some had little to no sympathy for the former UFC fighter. However, when he revealed the extent of his illness through an Instagram video that showed multiple football-sized bottles of bacteria drained from his stomach, many tones changed. The illness turned out to be life-threatening Rumble said, but remained confident he would be able to fight it and return to the octagon in 2022. Since the truth came out, very few folks had any negative things to say towards Johnson’s decision- but that doesn’t mean the initial knee-jerk reactions don’t take a toll on someone in a health battle.
Come Together, Right now…
Listed are five examples of the MMA universe jumping to conclusions that are inevitably wrong, and caused immeasurable amounts of false information to circulate and opinions to be formed based on inaccurate or no information. These thoughts were quickly proven wrong days after they were composed. Whether that be judging metaphorical books by their metaphorical covers when it comes to UFC Cards with fewer notable names than usual or accusing a person of something without any tangible reasoning to base that on.
With all the agitation and conflict in the world, and in a sport where two people are locked in a cage with the goal of separating their opponent from consciousness- doesn’t it make sense to pump the breaks on these snap judgments until we do more research? After all, these are human beings like you and me. Unless we’re talking about Cyril Gane. That guy is a freak of nature and you best evaluate the consequences of besmirching his name.
Follow Tom Kowalsky at @PickinFightsTom on Twitter, @PickinFights on Instagram, and his weekly UFC Betting show on YouTube. You can also check out Tom and his team over at PickinWinners.org, as well as MenofOrder.com. Stay up to date with the latest MMA News and Discussions @OTHeroicsMMA!