You Call Yourself an MMA Fan?

By E. Spencer Kyte (

Why a photo of Michael Clarke Duncan?

In addition to being a monster of a man who I can see posing the titular question in his grumpiest bass, MCD has been a regular presence cageside for the UFC for quite some time.

So when the idea struck me to discuss the complex layers of ridiculousness that is MMA fandom, I figured I’d lead with a guy no one would call a “UFC nuthugger” or mock his level of overall knowledge.

Hey look – a soapbox. Since no one is using it, I might as well climb up here…

Consider yourself warned.

Why in the name of all things holy do we have to be such a competitive, argumentative group riddled with superiority complexes and always in search of the next pissing contest?

(Note: Me very-much included…)

While it would be perfectly fine to be one happy collection of Mixed Martial Arts fans, there are segments of our overall population who just can’t let that happen.

Why? Beats the hell out of me…

I consider myself a pretty hardcore fan when it comes to MMA; my spare time is spent playing Six Degrees of Separation using the Sherdog Fighter Finder, watching obscure fight videos on YouTube and becoming friends with just about anyone remotely related to the sport via Facebook and Twitter.

On top of that, my brain is wired so that I can remember useless information like fighter records, affiliations and hometowns with alarming speed and accuracy. While it comes in handy now, it certainly didn’t help when I needed to recall formulas for Stats or how to conjugate the verb avoir in French class.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because I think I could go head-to-head with just about anyone on the topic of Mixed Martial Arts and come out okay… but what would be the point?

You see things one way and I see them another.

Last time I checked, there is nothing wrong with that.

No one is handing out awards for being the most knowledgeable fan or having the correct opinion.

Except that some MMA fans act like they are.

My belief that Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre are currently better Pound-for-Pound fighters is unacceptable to the legions of Fedor Emelianenko loyalists who will argue to the death making the same three points to “prove” that “The Last Emperor” is the be-all and end-all of MMA.

Of course, that response will elicit the usual round of “Fedor hasn’t fought anyone / Pride was a joke” rhetoric that comes from the demographic who believe that the UFC is the only organization that matters.

Those who were planted in Pride’s corner during their glory days will immediately take up the fight for their organization and this will go on and on and on and on until someone calls someone a “nuthugger” and tells them that their opinion is wrong.

The same type of scenario can play out between long-time fans and “newbies” as well, with some of those who rented UFC 1 on VHS not accepting “when Anderson Silva knocked out Forrest Griffin” as an adequate answer to the question “What’s your favorite fight of all-time?”

And let’s not forget the purists versus the pragmatists.

Most recently, that battle has focuses on whether or not Brock Lesnar simply forces the air from his opponents by using his astronomical – and wholly unfair and therefore necessitating a change – weight advantage or if he wrestles them to the ground and then punches the daylights out of them while still making weight and holding no greater an advantage over a guy like Frank Mir than Tim Sylvia held over Randy Couture.

Debates are part of the foundation of sports, being a fan and actively enjoying your athletic endeavor of choice, but it seems like there is a portion of the MMA fan population who just refuse to accept that people might think differently than they do and it makes absolutely no sense to me.

No matter how many times you tell me that Fedor hasn’t lost in eight years and his loss isn’t really a loss (all things I’m acutely aware of and can be spared in future Fedor debates), I’m still going to hold to my belief that Silva and St-Pierre have faced stiffer competition as of late and are better right now.

Trying to convince me otherwise is like trying to convince a Catholic that Buddhism is the best religion…

Saying that Pride was a lesser organization than the UFC during the time both were operating is like saying the National League is a lesser caliber of baseball than the American League.

Following the analogy, that would make Albert Pujols the Fedor Emelianenko of Baseball, as he’s clearly facing sub-standard pitching playing on the Senior Circuit…

New fans to the sport shouldn’t be ostracized for not offering up one of the countless epic battles that have gone down in MMA history as their favorite all-time fight; they should get a High Five for enjoying Anderson Silva’s beatdown of Forrest Griffin.

Now that you’re friends, you, the long-term encyclopedia of MMA knowledge, can impart a list of other fights for the “newbie” to go check out and enjoy. Don’t hate… educate.

And what the hell is with calling people a nuthugger?

While I certainly understand the connotation, when did being an ardent supporter of a fighter or organization become akin to wrapping your arms around a man’s testicles?

I love the Detroit Red Wings, so whose nuts am I theoretically hugging there?

Part of my aim as a writer is to create pieces that stimulate conversations and start debates.

Unfortunately, for some in the MMA community, the definition of debate has become bastardized to mean things like slandering, insulting, beating a dead horse and/or ignoring facts.

We don’t have to always agree and we don’t have to be void of emotion and commitment to what we feel, but just because we’re fans of a combat sport doesn’t mean we have to be so combative with each other when we don’t see eye-to-eye.

Yes these are broad strokes and many fall outside of this segment of the fan populous, but everyone needs to be reminded to play nice from time to time, right?

A fan is a fan is a fan… no one “type” is greater than the other.

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