By Al Alvir
- Cirque de Soleil of combat. It’s shoved in your face in all its growing clichés. Is it becoming a pseudo-sport of WWE?
- It is not embarrassing for fighters to be stopped. This causes a culture of quitting, whether it’s unanimous or not. The tapping out and the honor of being choked out (or even the rare limb breaking or joint tearing) is acceptable even to the fighters. Fighters have already admitted to pretending to go limp to show “guts” in not tapping, and tappers escape fights without any damage. If a boxer acted like he couldn’t get up, because his will is too broken to continue, it wouldn’t matter—that boxer has already shamed himself.
- New rules are just making it increasingly unrealistic. The correlation to real life martial arts, the thing that gave birth to and made MMA so great, is dissipating. It has become a street fight with too many rule technicalities. Boxing, BJJ, Muay Thai each have fewer technicalities and, ultimately, fewer rules. Those arts are just isolating skill-sets, not confusing reality and sport by way of an arguable set of prohibitions. Rules should be in place to make it more difficult to compete, to decrease the chance of luck, and to decrease things that slow down the game and take skills away.
- All new rules are being added, and they all ONLY preserve the ground-game. The fairness of the game is not studied, tried, and tested at all.
- The ambassadors of the sport are cheerleaders. We witness it best when they are lined up as analysts or reporters patronizing and exaggerating the moment. They can watch two seconds of a fight and proclaim a man as “being sharp.” They can see 99 jabs, and proclaim the hundredth as “what a good jab!” They can witness a one-punch knockout from someone losing [but not on the verge of getting knocked out!] and proclaim it as the most shocking knockout in the history of the sport. We even see them hanging advertisements behind their fighters during the introductions. Collectively, they are unknowledgeable about all the facets of mma incorporated into the sport, but they each play the part of the all-encompassing expert. Even the best fighter can’t be an expert on promotion, nutrition, boxing, wrestling, training, and being an analyst while holding a black belt in BJJ. How are they all doing it? And they seem to be taking turns as reality tv stars acting as team coaches.
- The fighting is not selling itself. Maybe because it can’t. The ‘extracurriculars,’ like entrance gimmicks and hair-styles and pretentious stare-downs are hype that doesn’t satisfy quality.
- One Fight, Rashad vs. Rampage. The criteria to win are not telling. Speed can win without any damage being done. Damage can be done without being able to stuff takedowns, so that person still loses the fight. Octagon control can mean running and initiating holding someone against a fence without doing any damage there. DJ Morrissey said, “You can hump a guy on the fence for a whole fight and win on cage control.” Speed in boxing, on the opposite of the spectrum, only means anything if it encompasses effective aggression. Of course, boxing has its share of lousy fights with pointless wins, but it rarely happens without one guy getting clearly, empirically beaten and beaten up—even in a stinker. In mma, you can literally win a fight by doing nothing, and even UFC’s Dana White acknowledges it with one of his mantras: “Don’t let it go to the judges.” Why this is important comes down to the contradictory rules that a fighter can use to his advantage. It reminds me of children martial arts tournaments. Imagine if boxers got extra nods from judges just for getting the right angles but not throwing any punches.
- The cartoonish, sensationalized epithets geared towards 13 year olds and pro-wrestling fanatics who never grew up. The Shark Tank, the Superman punch, the Anaconda, Hitmen… The consumers are either stupid or they like the fantasy that it all offers. No irony, no humor.
- All of the above are just turning sportsmen away from mma, regardless of how the pseudo-sport might be growing.