I just read a sign of the times in regard to MMA drawing new fans to the sport. In an article on BleacherReport.com, J. Michael Morris actually takes a shot at Anderson Silva for something that is just completely silly:
What in the H-E-double hockeysticks was Anderson Silva doing at the EliteXC fight on Saturday night?
Can’t he recognize a major fight?
I know there is a little translation problem, but Dana White needs to explain to him which team he is on.
There are almost no experienced challengers for UFC, but there are some dangerous up-and-coming fighters in Affliction and EliteXC.
I’m all for new fans coming into the sport and welcome them with open arms. After all, the more fans of the sport, the more potential readers of this site.
I am also in favor of newer fans writing about MMA because the media coverage of this sport needs to expand and there aren’t enough journalists to meet the demand of the audience. However, those that are new to the sport and want to write about it should spend some time researching the sport and learning about the many cultures that exist within MMA.
Maybe J. Michael Morris would have a point if Silva got on camera and gave a spoken endorsement for EliteXC. But that was hardly the case, as all that Silva did was something that’s been done since this sport’s early origins: corner a fighter.
There are two key things that Morris neglected to realize when taking his position.
First, fighters are fighters, regardless of who they fight for. For years now fighters from one promotion have cornered training partners and friends who were fighting under a different promotional banner. MMA is a team sport. This isn’t boxing where you have a bunch of freelancers working out of a gym paying out of pocket for every little training expense such as sparring partners. In MMA, if you don’t come from a strong camp, the odds are against you making it in this sport. And if you belong to a team, the loyalty that exists runs deeper than with any fight promotion. Whether a new fan agrees with that or not, that’s the way it is. Spend some time within a top fight camp and you will see how tight the bond is. Not being there for a teammate simply because he competes for a rival promotion is not an acceptable answer.
Second, there is a bond that exists amongst Brazilian fighters that is second to none in this sport. It’s almost like they are all family. For example, one of the coolest things I saw this weekend was at dinner on Friday night after weigh-ins. Wilson Reis and one of his cornermen, Sidemar Honorio (an up and coming MMA prospect in his own right) were eating dinner. Across from them was a table of consisting of Anderson Silva, Rafael Feijao, Ed Soares, and several other members of their crew. They saw Reis and Honorio eating alone and motioned to them. Reis shook them off indicating that he didn’t want to intrude. But Feijao wasn’t having it. He pretty much demanded they come over and break bread with them. And do I even need to bring up how Paulo Filho refused to “prostitute” himself by helping an American fighter get ready for a fight against a Brazilian even though Filho wasn’t even friends with the opposing fighter?
To criticise someone in MMA for supporting their friend and training partner is just ignorant. And to question a Brazilian for helping a fellow countryman out just demonstrates that you haven’t done the proper research about the culture of MMA.
I’m all for people having strong opinions. G-d knows I have plenty of them. But please, just make sure you’ve done your homework before taking such a strong position.
And to criticise a fighter for helping another out is just weak. The respect and camaraderie that exists in this sport is one of its greatest selling points. If you like selfish athletes, you’re following the wrong sport.