Another huge event took place last night as part of the Strikeforce Grand Prix and when it was over, the MMA fans were once again pulling out their old standbys. “Overeem, Overrated!” “Overeem would get killed by JDS, Carwin or Velasquez!” There’s just so much lunacy and anger between fans after events it makes me wonder if the fans of MMA are limiting its growth?
Last night Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum fought an unconventional fight that caused a bit of stir with the fans. Werdum had little to no interest in exchanging on the feet with Overeem despite the fact that he more than held his own in the stand-up category. So, naturally the internet was abuzz with insults and statements of fact that Overeem was an overrated kickboxing and that his K1 heritage was meaningless.
Let’s talk about the fight and why Alistair Overeem wasn’t as successful standing as he could have been. If you’re a fan of MMA or boxing, you’ve heard the phrase, “Styles make Fights.” Well, if you’re an elite kickboxer and you’re fighting an elite grappler, you can’t throw caution to the wind and just unload with kicks, knees and punches. You have to worry about the takedown. Overeem showcased world-class takedown defense last night, but that went without acknowledgment. It was instead all about his perceived shortcomings standing and how overrated he is. Here’s a newsflash, if Alistair had an opponent who was willing to stand and trade, he would have closed the show. If Alistair fought Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez or Junior Dos Santos, we’d see a different Overeem. Just so there is no misunderstanding, Alistair Overeem is the most dangerous striker in the heavyweight division.
Let’s move away from the “Overrated” situation and talk about something that also bothers me about MMA fans. I love this Country. I am as patriotic as the next guy but “USA” Chants at events are pretty brutal. When you have Yuki Kondo fighting Trevor Prangley and the fans chant “USA” you know something is wrong. If you’re not sure if either fighter is in fact American, just chant their name. Chanting USA is disrespectful, and most times misplaced.
There will always be people at events that will chant “USA – USA – USA” and I will always cringe when they do. It’s a symptom of a bigger problem, and that problem is uneducated fans and alcohol. These are the same fans who yell inspired things like, “Why don’t you marry him!” or “Get a room!” anytime the fight goes to the ground. God forbid two competitors wind up in the north south position, because you’ll hear giggling, catcalls and general nonsense.
These problems are evident at UFC events but even more so at smaller local shows. I’ve covered events as media at events with crowds around 1000-2000 fans and it’s horrific. You can pinpoint the people in the crowd who yell stupid and inappropriate things. God forbid the drunkard gets a few laughs when he yells out another refreshing quip because then it’s open mic night at “Insert Local MMA Event name here” and he’ll be doing it all night.
Let’s face it; the fans of MMA are a disappointment. We can’t discuss things, we fight, argue and every disagreement goes from the topic at hand to each other personally. “I think Fedor is overrated” turns into “You’re an idiot and your mom talks funny”, in less than three tweets. It’s all personal and never stays on topic. I don’t understand why this is. I discuss football, baseball and other sports with people who have opposing views and it rarely results in my mother being insulted. It seems like it’s isolated to our fine sport.
Should we be surprised though? Our sport’s biggest star isn’t a fighter, it’s a promoter. He’s a promoter who behaves badly, calls names, insults fans and journalists alike and much like a real-life Cartman, “Does what he wants!” Are the fans a mere reflection of their fearless leader? Dana White has transformed himself from Screech to AC Slater to use some Saved by the Bell parallels and his ego has grown on pace with his jawline and cranium. If we can’t expect more from him, I guess it’s impossible to expect more from the rest of us, or is it?