As some of you may know (or are about to learn), I believe MMA has a lot of valuable qualities. It has improved awareness for grappling, wrestling, and fighting at multiple ranges. It also shot across the bow of phoney and stagnant traditional arts – daring them to put their money where their mouth is.
Because of MMA’s core focus on effectiveness many TMA’s have had to take a fresh look at what they’re doing and how they’re doing it (which I think is beneficial).
That being said, MMA has experienced some serious growing pains and suffers routinely from “demons” that stand in stark contrast to the true nature of martial arts. Some of those demons have been poking their ugly heads out lately and I wonder if it’s just a bad series of events, or a larger trend.
Anderson Silva Gets Taunty
Anderson Silva is easily one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history. His ability to control distance and timing is uncanny, and his technique repertoire is impressive. Basically, he makes it look easy a lot of the time. Unfortunately, he recently abandoned all the respect and dignity that he infused into his earlier fights.
At UFC 112 Silva matched up against Demian Maia, and throughout the fight he taunted his opponent. While Silva did handle his business and landed plenty of good shots on Maia, he spent even more time dancing around and acting foolish.
Dana White was so angered by this turn of events that he refused to hand Silva the championship belt (which he successfully defended), instead giving it to Silva’s trainer before storming out of the stage area.
Mayhem Miller Brawl
In a recent StrikeForce fight Jake Shields defeated Dan Henderson. All was going smoothly until the post-fight interview. As Shields was answering questions about the match, Jason Mayhem Miller entered the ring and sidled up next to Shields, giving him a cock-eyed stare. Once Shields noticed him, Miller took control of the mic and started challenging Shields to a rematch.
Nick Diaz (Shields trainer) took exception to the pompous maneuver and pushed Miller away from the mic. From there it degraded into an all-out brawl. Shields and his entire crew tried to jump Miller on the spot, but as the carnage commenced a team of security personnel jumped in and tried to separate everyone.
The situation devolved due to the petty and inappropriate antics of Miller combined with a thuggish lack of control on the part of Diaz, Shields, and their team.
Paul Daley’s Cheap Shot
At UFC 113 Josh Koscheck was able to defeat Paul Daley. Koscheck dictated much of the fight and by the end was looking to be the clear cut winner. At the sound of the final bell, the two broke. As Koschek began walking to his corner, Daley followed him and swung a big left directly at his face.
As it turns out, Koscheck had spent the last 30 seconds of the final round berating his opponent while controlling him on the ground. He said things that were “much worse than your momma jokes” and did his best to steal as much dignity from his opponent as possible. Although these kinds of head games are not rare in MMA, Daley clearly took exception and chose to take a cheap shot after the fight was over.
Dana White summarily removed Daley from the UFC shortly after he found out about the incident.
The Sum of It’s Parts
On one hand, I think we all understand that fighting is a highly intense experience, which makes it difficult to be under perfect control at all times. These fighters are experiencing significant adrenaline dumps and are put in harm’s way. It’s tempting to argue that these incidences are just part of fighting, and that only soft-shelled wusses would bother to worry about it.
Personally, I find reason to be concerned. If MMA wants to be considered a legitimate sport and pastime like football (which MMA execs certainly DO want), they are shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly by proving all of their critics right. People that don’t like MMA are quick to point out the examples of juvenile, bone-headed, and disgraceful behavior amongst its participants. This recent slew of events gives them more ammunition than they need.
If MMA wants to be considered a martial art in the classical sense, these examples are moving them further and further away from the kind of character development and personal responsibility stressed in established arts.
Of course, there are plenty of examples of shady behavior in traditional arts as well. Remember when that Olympic Taekwondoka kicked the referee? That wasn’t so good. But MMA is at the height of its exposure right now and is at a pivotal point in regards to how the public sees it.
If MMA wants to move passed its reputation of being a face-punching playground for bullies and thugs, this type of stuff has to stop asap.
I hope MMA as an art can pull through it because I believe it has a lot to offer.