It’s that time of the year again; time for the entire globe to make empty promises that we know we can’t or won’t keep. Time for us to be idealists and picture how much better our lives will be in twelve months while only taking the first step it takes to get there. Of course, it is not wrong of us to wish our Roy Nelson bellies away. New Year is all about a chance at improvement and a fresh start. I myself am hoping to hit the gym enough to strut out of 2013 with some Junior dos Santos arms or a Phil Davis chest. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that will actually happen. I would give it about only as much of a chance as I give Joe Rogan to stop saying “He has a really underrated jiu-jitsu game”. But here’s to hoping.
In keeping with the tradition of this holiday, I’ve come up with four resolutions for MMA fans to make. While I maintain the same level of confidence in these as I do my own muscle building ambitions, maybe it’ll spark some motivation from the masses.
New Year’s Resolution #1: We will get angry at Dana White less often
Dana White does a lot of things that tend to upset people. He is, hands down, one of the most polarizing characters in all of MMA, maybe even sports in general. However, what he says is often just that; what he says. His actions are, for the most part, independent from his statements, yet people continue to get fired up about what he says.
Take the recent case of Nick Newell for instance. At this point, we all know the story. A talented fighter from Massachusetts, Nick Newell was born with one arm not fully developed. Still, he has managed a very impressive 9-0 record while defeating some very game opponents such as Eric Reynolds. While most of the MMA world has become invested in this story and is pulling for Newell, Dana White recently stated that he doesn’t ever see Newell being signed by the UFC. And the uproar began.
Admittedly, I was in this group that lashed out at Dana immediately. I thought it was closed-minded and ridiculous that Dana wouldn’t give him a chance. However, after a deep breath and a pause to look at the facts, I felt a lot better. After all, there is only so long Dana will ignore a winner and only so long he’ll ignore someone who will make him money. Maybe Newell should have a chat with Ronda Rousey about how long he’ll be waiting. She waited only a handful of months after Dana stated the UFC would never have a women’s division. If Newell keeps winning, in impressive fashion I might add, I would wager he’ll only have to wait a bit longer.
New Year’s Resolution #2: Even when a fight is not taking place where we want it to, we will stop booing.
I’ll be the first to admit here that there are a few types of fights that I do not particularly enjoy. I find myself staring out the window like a disinterested 7th grader when someone pins a fighter to the cage and slowly works away. And I feel like I speak for everybody when I say that the lay and pray technique leaves me in need of a nap. However, it’s time for us as fans to realize that very rarely is a fighter trying to do these things.
I’d wager that no fighter says “I’m going to go out and lay on him for a while” or “I’m going to take him down and try to do nothing after that”. Idealistically, I’m sure they are looking to finish with some ground and pound or soften their opponent up for position and submission. As fans I think we have to respect the idea, even if not perfectly executed, and the only real way to do that is to shut our mouths and watch.
New Year’s Resolution #3: The Ultimate Fighter is what it is; we will accept that.
Whether I am discussing it with friends, checking out the comments section of articles or reading message boards, the number one complaint in MMA currently is that The Ultimate Fighter is no longer interesting. Fans hunger for The Ultimate Fighter of old where you knew the winner would go on to become a star and maybe even one day challenge for a belt. Whereas now, you are just waiting to see how long until the winner slips into obscurity in the bottom of the division or even gets cut.
One thing that we all have to remind ourselves of is that the landscape of MMA has changed since then. Now, even smaller local shows get coverage on some sites. Some promotions have even started televising live online on various websites. In addition, even if it’s not televised directly, our age of YouTube can turn relative unknowns into the next big prospects. While this age of information is perfect for the diehard fan, it’s also the main contributor to the decrease in solid prospects for the show. The Stipe Miocics and Rory MacDonalds are all getting signed immediately rather than being subjected to The Ultimate Fighter house. Consider even Jon Jones, who was only 21 with six professional fights when he was signed. These are the future stars that would usually be on the show.
Of course, the show would be a lot more interesting if John Dodson had to get through Michael McDonald first. Who wouldn’t have enjoyed if Michael Cheisa had to try to work his way past Khabib Nurmagamedov (10th ranked lightweight in this week’s MMA Manifesto Lightweight Rankings) before winning the famed six-figure contract? The fact of the matter is, although I would have enjoyed that, I enjoy seeing these guys fighting in the UFC earlier so much more.
New Year’s Resolution #4: We will not judge a fighter by his last fight.
Welcome to the what-have-you done-for-me-lately generation where we write off how talented a fighter is due to his last loss. The beauty of this is, we are constantly forced to eat a heaping helping of crow. One of the things that has always made me love MMA so much more than boxing is that a fighter can come back from a string of losses and be a champion, whereas a boxer records a handful and is forever relegated. Yet still, we all love to jump to terms such as “can crusher”, “has been” and “flash in the pan” when a fighter drops a fight.
Not to say that we are never right. Melvin Guillard seems to be getting good at proving these haters right as of late. But for everyone that does, there is a Hector Lombard waiting in the wings to make your friends laugh at you.
Maybe it’s wrong of me to think we have the ability to put all of these things behind us and just enjoy the fights. My utopian society of appreciative MMA fans is probably far out of reach. And then again, maybe it’s not anything I want. After all, what would I write about if everybody was happy? Still, maybe I can stick to at least one of these points a little bit longer than I do my Cheick Kongo body resolution.
About the author
Daniel Vreeland is a writer (PrelimPicker) and teacher with an avid love for martial arts. He has practiced jiu jitsu and submission grappling under and next to many top names including Royce Gracie, Rousimar Palhares, Murilo Bustamante and Marco Alvan. He has placed in multiple NAGA grappling tournaments and currently trains under black belt Dave Roy in Amherst, MA.