MMA fans are what Hunter S. Thompson described Dr. Gonzo as in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Too weird to live and too rare to die.
Unlike teams sports like football and basketball, the fans live—and—die with an individual, rather than an entire team. While the casual American Football fan might be a Peyton Manning fan, ask any Indianapolis Colts fans and they will say that they will support the team, not the player. MMA fans live—and—die on whether or not a fighter is on a three fight losing streak or a five fight winning streak. There are those bandwagon fans that only become a fan when a fighter is doing well and will then quickly jump off when the fighter suffers a sudden defeat.
A fans will is truly tested when the sport comes under scrutiny by the media in stories that clearly goes for the “Human Cockfighting” angle rather than seeing the sport from the perspective of sports that is a human chess match. You’ll be surprised to see what happens when the e—mail of said sports writer probably gets filled with e-mails with counter-argument’s tearing the writer’s story down to the ground. I remember a story on a local website around the time Anthony Pettis made his debut in the WEC, and his debut was drawing interest from the local media. The writer “supposedly” saw the event where there was no referee, no gloves, and the ref ignored a fighter submitting to some “weird” arm—lock. He then went into the whole “Boxing is better” and that “The sport should be banned” drivel that most writers use. Shortly after the article went up, fans immediately attack the writer on his points, exposing his article as nothing more than a cheap attempt to gain views, and he promptly put up an apology for what he wrote.
There is a downside to being an MMA fan though, and those are the fans that care more about what a promotion is doing rather than and in the eternal MMA pissing war that started once the UFC started to pick up steam. While each side has good points, the idea of people aligning themselves with a company and not fighters show’s what fans true intentions are. I can only compare it to back in the 1990’s when pro—wrestling fans in Philadelphia supported the name ECW by buying up all the t—shirts with the ECW logo showing a disregard for the wrestlers who worked for the promotion. The death of PRIDE did little to help this as most hardcore—PRIDE fans began to support companies like EliteXC and Affliction just to see them beat the UFC. This leads to the companies going head—to—head against an opponent they are ready to face. Then when the company dies, they latch onto another company and so on and so forth. While this group doesn’t represent MMA fans, it is a growing concern that’s led to the rallying cry of “SUPPORT FIGHTERS, NOT PROMOTIONS!” on MMA message boards.
The reality with MMA fans is that we’ve been through the rise of the sport in the early 90’s, a dramatic downfall in the late 90’s, and an epic reincarnation in the last decade. This has made the fan base become a tightly knit group of fans, essentially a fraternity of fans who are going to argue whether Fedor could beat Godzilla one moment then come together in unison when they’ve just seen a classic. It interesting to see if fans of baseball would stick with the sport if there was another lockout….I’m guessing not.