Fans can be extremely weird and picky, and none more than MMA fans.
I read an article about UFC 178, and it went on at length regarding numbers – from 5 to 300 – about how anticipated a particular bout is. I couldn’t discern what sort of formula was used to create these numbers, but I took them with a grain of bullshit. Yes, Weidman/Silva II was highly anticipated and a big draw thanks to longtime middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva. The article had interest in the Cerrone/Alvarez bout at 12, Nunes/Zigano at 9, and the Flyweight championship bout between Johnson vs. Cariaso at 5. Old numbers are big, new numbers are small.
The article also mentions people walking out mid-bout during the last Vancouver-based card at UFC 174, which is a shame, because it was a real pleasure to see Johnson outperform Bagautinov in every aspect. So maybe the author believes that Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouseUFC) isn’t a worthy draw for a pay-per-view (PPV) event and should be relegated to the free cards on Fox. However, I believe that people walk out of every card early in order to get a head-start on home before the crowd hits.
Now, MMA fans – UFC fans in general – do have cause to be weird and picky. The UFC has plans to air 16 cards – both free and PPV – from August 30th to December 20th, which makes 16 events in 17 weekends. It gives fans the cream of the crop to pick from, and allows them to be extremely choosy and finicky over who they become fans of. Add in ONE FC cards, Bellator, Invicta – to name a few – plus all of the local cards, and you’re looking at a lot of events in very little time. On top of that, the UFC has cancelled a couple of cards in its day, which creates a bit of wariness when choosing to buy tickets.
Of course, I am not saying that you have to like every champion and their bouts. For a while I was not a fan of Jon Jones, and while his personality still needs some work, his skills are undeniable. In my opinion, Jones won the bout against challenger Alexander Gustafsson. Likewise, I was a fan of Rory MacDonald, until his personality turned sour. I do not doubt that his skills will get him a title shot, but I will hope that he gets the slobber knocked out of him.
I keep picking on this article, but only because I find it ridiculous. The author also mentions UFC 177 and the rematch between TJ Dillashaw and Renan Barão, and how the entire card is a snooze-fest. In a theoretical world, or simply on paper, he’s correct. Dillashaw earned a TKO victory after over 20 minutes of dominating the then-champion. Even if he had not won decisively, it was looking to be the first time a champion lost via decision when fighting at home. A lot of lesser-known fighters from the cancelled UFC 176 card made their way to the 177 card as everything was reshuffled. Of course, two fighters falling ill right before the 177 weigh-ins doesn’t help my case, especially when the headlining fight is changed to TJ Dillashaw vs. UFC-newcomer Joe Soto for the belt. But that’s only the theoretical view. I’ve seen big-draw cards end in boring decisions, and I’ve seen ‘lame’ cards end in first-round finishes. I watched Stipe Miocic earn a dominant victory on his first PPV bout a few years ago and enjoyed the entire card. I told the tale of the card to my boss, who dismissed everyone he hadn’t seen before, and then he watched the card later on and changed his stance. And of course, notable highlights of the 177 “snooze-fest” include Bethe Correia tore through Shayna Baszler for a wicked TKO, and Dillashaw pummeled Soto for four solid rounds before sealing the fifth with a head-kick KO.
It all comes down to the fighters and their performances, big cards are usually exciting, and ‘lame’ cards have been boring.
Take for example UFC 180: Velasquez vs. Werdum. Tickets sold out in eight hours, and right now – on paper – the incomplete card sounds ‘meh’. But the draw of Cain Velasquez is great, especially since he reclaimed his title from Junior dos Santos. So maybe all fans want to see are bigger guys engage in bloody wars that only result in TKO/KO victories. I enjoy those types of victories as much as any other fan, but I also enjoy submission victories – especially a come-from-behind like Joe Lauzon almost pulled off against Jim Miller during their bloody war.
I don’t consider myself the ‘average MMA fan’, and I’m thankful to have many friends who aren’t the ‘average’. A common denominator in our favour is martial arts; be it BJJ, TKD, MMA, kick-boxing, boxing etc. It’s not fool-proof, but I think with training we can look at aspects for strengths and weaknesses, not just how flashy a spinning back-kick is or how sweet an arm-bar attempt is. We enjoy a flashy show like everyone else; Edson Barboza’s back-roundhouse/spinning wheel kick was an amazing knock-out, Anthony Pettis’ “showtime” kick against Benson Henderson was awesome, and the now-unlikely prospect of Jose Aldo Jr. vs. Anthony Pettis would have been the most acrobatic fight since Capoeira.
In closing, look forward to a card, even if you don’t know everyone or anyone on the card. Open yourself up to becoming a fan of someone, sit back and enjoy the bouts as much as you can. Nothing wrong with a good meal, a few cold pints, and the fights on TV.
–Kiyoshi “The Prototype”
Your #1 Canadian eh?