I got knocked out in my last professional fight. Not just KO'd, but hurt- really, really bad- I was hospitalized with compound skull fractures, collapsed sinuses, vomiting blood all night, phasing in and out of consciousness, brain damage, impaired speech, blind spot in one eye- a whole laundry list of things I have to live with for the rest of my life. And that's just one of the risks every fighter takes going into this sport. And that's fine. That's part of what I signed up for. I am not asking for sympathy for me or other injured fighters. We don't need it.
But celebrating someone else's failure? Feeling happy about someone else's suffering? Rejoicing in some else's injury? Damn. You guys are stone cold monsters. The least you could do for those who risk their health and safety for your entertainment is to cheer for the winner.
Casual fight fans in the west are extremely mercurial beings. There's an odd clamor for the fall of whoever is on top whenever they have been there for more than a minute. There's a weird western mentality dictating that once a dominant fighter has been beaten a single time, they are finished. There is more attention given to the drama and the hype surrounding the action than the fight itself.
One of the best fighters I know has over 60 losses on his professional record... and over 300 wins. In Thailand where he's from, that's not unusual- children there start prize fighting at an early age and often compete every two weeks or more for the next 2 decades.
I remember watching a series of heated, bloody, five round battles, ringside at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok. The crowd went wild with every knee that was thrown in the clinch. They roared and swooned at every masterful technique. There was no drama except what happened live in the ring that night. Every fight began, not with a vicious stare down and angry words between a heel and a face, but with music, dancing, reverence, and prayers.
I looked around and saw all the excited people placing bets, hoping to win some cash off the success of their favorite fighters, but I saw something else- an entire audience of people who genuinely loved to watch the sport for the sake of watching the sport.
This isn't supposed to be a Muay Thai > MMA post. Not even remotely. But the fans are definitely better by leaps and bounds. No question about that.
I saw another sharp contrast when I started fighting in China. Win or lose, after the show, the audience would swarm me, thanking me for my performance, telling me how brave I was to face their local champion regardless of the outcome, asking for autographs and pictures.
Again, this isn't a Chinese combat sports > American combat sports post. Not even remotely. But the fans are definitely better. No question about that.
As a fighter, you have to believe you are unbeatable, indestructible, untouchable. Clearly, no mortal is, but if you want to have the best chance at consistently winning, you must honestly believe that your skill and fortitude is superior to all you will face- if not, you do not belong in a professional fight. This is often mistaken for being a bad role model. But let me pose this question: if you choose as a role model, someone who's job it is to hurt other people for a living- then who's fault is that?
I've been in those stupid pre-fight press conferences and interviews where they ask you all those leading questions that make you sound like a pompous, self centered ass. "How do you plan on winning this fight?" "Do you think you can beat him?" "What's your plan going in to this fight?" --"well, let's see, I plan on winning because I'm a better fighter. Yes, I know I can win. My plan is to hurt him until the fight is over." There are only so many ways to spin those answers. You can try to deflect them in hopes that people will see you as a humble contender, or you can be upfront and honest and tell them exactly why you showed up for work that day- to win a damn fight because that's your job- and suddenly you're a cocky bastard who needs to learn his place.
Can you imagine if construction workers had to put up with this crap? "Well, Larry, how do you plan on laying the foundation for this building?" "Well, I'm going to do it the right way so the building has structural integrity." "How dare you Larry! You're so full of yourself! Why can't you show some humility!"
But the weakness in Ronda's coaching is not limited to Edmond Tarerdyan. It's the ever charismatic Rener and Ryon Gracie brothers. Out of all the well known grappling coaches out there- those two are the least complimentary of her style, and in spite of the internet popularity of their "Gracie Breakdown" videos, those nerds can shove it with their "lying on your back is winning as long you don't tap" attitude. That doesn't translate into winning fights. Yes, I just called them "nerds".
Ronda has said she will continue training with Rener and Ryron indefinitely because she's comfortable with them. It's easy to want a yes-man instead of a coach. A yes-man makes you feel good about yourself resulting in no change whatsoever. A coach challenges you, makes you painfully aware of your inadequacies, and pushes you out of your comfort zone, resulting in changes for the better. The Gracies aren't challenging Ronda. She is already the superior grappler in that trio.
Ronda Rousey does train with wrestlers. She'snot ignorant of wrestling. However, knowing about technique, and having a working understanding of technique are totally different things. A thorough working understanding of wrestling for MMA and the dynamics of kicking would be game changing for her. Think about it, even if Ronda had the sloppiest shots in the game, as soon as someone sprawls on her, what is anyone in her division going to do at that range? Beat her at the scramble and armbar her? Same with kicks- even if she throws something ugly that her opponent catches- that puts her directly into a clinch. But using an amateur boxing skill set to punch into a clinch with a pro boxer who won't go there? Pfffffffttt... Forget about it.
It's weird how even Holly Holm's win has become all about Ronda. But the average guy can't get excited about her win because he's had never heard of her. And that's true of most casual fight fans. Ronda has become a household name- but most people couldn't tell you the name of a single other female fighter inside or outside of the UFC, or any other combat sport for that matter.
Same thing happened when Chris Wideman beat Anderson Silva... twice. Everybody was like "Chris who?" and "Screw Silva, he's too cocky!" We love to hate the heels like Ronda, Silva, Sonnen, etc... but the heels make us care. The faces, in spite of all their talent, not so much.
I don't give a damn about what happens with fighters outside of the cage. I don't care if they are saints or sinners. I don't care if they talk all the trash or if they've taken a vow of silence forever. I can't stand watching TUF. I tried it once, and all the nonsense that wasn't MMA was so retarded it started killing brain cells in the most painful way. I don't care about pre fight hype or post fight banter. That's all noise that gets in the way of the sport. So when I hear people say things like "I don't like that guy, in spite of the fact that he's proven himself to be the best fighter on planet earth, he totally sucks because I don't like the tone of his voice"... well, I find that super weird. Who cares! That's like going to a five star restaurant and saying the legitimately awesome food sucks because you heard the chef has a different worldview from yours.
But that's just me, coming from a fighter's/coaches perspective.
I don't get it personally... I mean I understand how the heel/face dynamic works. Gorgeous George used it back int he 1930's to sell the public on pro-wrestling (also the main reason people started buying TV's). Ali did the same thing for boxing in his time. For the casual fan, unless there's a story, it's just two monkeys in a cage hitting each other. For me, the violent action in the cage is the story- the most compelling kind of story. As humans, we tend to think we're special because we can use words- lots and lots of words. And we think we use words to communicate- but no, we use stories to communicate. Subtle, but important difference.
People want t believe in monsters and heroes. When Ronda and Holly threw down in Australia, the naysayers weren't watching a clash of decorated martial artists, instead they say Grendel being slain by Beowulf, and celebrated the slaying of the dreaded beast. (Probably not the best analogy, since Beowulf broke Grendel's arm, which is Ronda's MO)