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CagePotato Open Discussion: Have MMA Fans Evolved With the Sport?

Just Bleed Guy UFC gifs gif MMA funny
(Based on this, we’re gonna say…maybe?) 

As a quick perusal over the average forum, message board, or comments section on a given CagePotato, MMAMania, BloodyElbow, etc. article will show you, most fans of this thing called MMA would like to think that, on the off chance they were dropped into a random group of their peers and asked to debate various MMA-related issues, they would surely come out the victor. Hence our frequent inability to both see or respect another person’s argument on a given subject, admit in the slightest that we could be wrong, or realize that there might be no right answer to begin with (we’re looking at you, Nippletwist). 

However, it would be fairly easy for anyone of us to notice a direct correlation between the increased awareness/popularity of MMA and an increased understanding of the sport by the average person. It only makes sense; with information regarding everything from various techniques used by certain fighters to the long-term effects of the sport on the human body being made more available by the day, the opportunities for fans to elevate their knowledge in regards to the sport are seemingly endless. Even if you aren’t a fan, all you have to do is go channel surfing for about thirty seconds these days to find something MMA-related to absorb.

But let’s be honest, we are still a long way from the universal acknowledgement, not to mention acceptance, of MMA. Go ahead; ask the three nearest people to you at the office what their opinion is on MMA legalization in your state. Make sure not to mention the phrase “UFC” in any way, shape, or form while doing so. Prepare yourself, for you are about to stare deep into the vacant, soulless eyes of someone who hasn’t the slightest clue what the hell you’re talking about. Creepy, isn’t it?

And although MMA is still miles behind that of its professional sports counterparts in terms of awareness, it is has begun to attract a whole new type of audience — a more diverse, famous, and dare we say informed audience — that seeks to shed the stereotypical image of MMA fans worldwide as personified by the “Just Bleed” guy. This will probably be the first and last time we ever say this, but if you want an example of an educated, enthusiastic audience, look no further than Canada. This may be painting with too large a brush, but in recent years, there has not been an audience that even comes close to matching Canada when dealing with the intricacies of the sport. Ground transitions, stuffed takedowns, and submission attempts are often treated with the enthusiasm and applause of ten punch combos and wheel kicks in other venues, and truly show how far the MMA fan has come in just a few short years. This observation has been duly noted on several occasions by UFC commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg.

But for every Canadian card, there are two or three cards/venues that make us reconsider how in touch with the underlying discipline, honor, and integrity of the sport fans actually are. Where some audiences applaud the ground aspects of MMA, others relentlessly boo and mock fighters for even considering taking the action there, to the point that it often has an influence on the referee’s decision to stand up fighters for a “lack of action.”

The same can be said about fighters who follow a succinct gameplan; just look at how Carlos Condit was eviscerated for his performance against Nick Diaz as an example of this. In one relatively lackluster fight, Condit’s reputation went from the “Natural Born Killer” to the “Natural Born Runner” amongst many fans, simply because he utilized an effective, albeit unspectacular, strategy against a nearly impossible to finish opponent. Then again, Condit’s gameplan was pretty much a cookie-cutter representation of the “always play it safe” mentality that Team Jackson has nearly patented by this point, which could have been enough in and of itself to earn such ire.

There are an endless number of factors that determine how an audience will react on a given night (fight quality, matchups, and amount of alcohol consumed to name a few), but suffice it to say, as MMA has become more popular, the larger audience it has drawn in has both its upsides and its pratfalls. MMA popularity has, whether directly or indirectly, stirred up a mentality that anyone can become a full-fledged martial artist if they own a Body by Jake and practice Chuck Liddell’s moves from the UFC 52 DVD they own “like a hundred times, bro!” on the heavy bag. This is more a reflection of our society’s long-running tendency to mimic what we see on TV than anything else, but let’s face it, human stupidity will never run out of things to exploit. MMA has also been tied in, often out of ignorance or a hidden agenda, with despicable acts of violence by such anti-MMA organizations as The Culinary Union and unfitforchildren, leading many casual audiences and former New York Assemblymen to believe that the furthering of MMA will come hand-in-hand with a general acceptance of violence.

So with that in mind, we figured we would host a good old fashioned CagePotato Open Discussion. The question: Do you think the evolution of mixed martial arts can be reflected in its fanbase? Or is the popularity of the sport actually diluting the intelligence of the average audience member? 

It is not a question that can be easily answered given the ever-changing landscape of both the sport and its fans, but what you really have to ask yourself is whether or not the new breed of fans that have hopped on the bandwagon in the past few years are helping improve the sport’s image or destroy it.

Just make sure you don’t ask Bob Arum before you come to a decision.

-J. Jones

Cagepotato Comments

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IronClad- August 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm
Dude on the upper right. Is he taken snaps off a joint? Doesn't matter. Party on faggots.
JayJitsu310- August 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm
You forgot to mention Japanese fans :(
J. Spaceman- August 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm
Is this even a question?! Yes! Of course yes!

It’s like when your favorite band suddenly got popular. The only people that listened to them in the beginning were the hardcores, the ones that knew everything about them and really understood where the music was coming from because they had followed them from the ground up. The ones that fucking lived the music. Then they put out The Black Album and suddenly the jock with the cheerleader girlfriend with massive knockers and the new Camaro that his fucking rich parents bought him started growing out his hair, wearing a black leather jacket, and blasting it as he drove through the parking lot, talking about how he’s been a fan since Kill ‘Em All. But he wasn’t. He wasn’t down there with you in the trenches. His room wasn’t covered in Kirk Hammett posters. He didn’t celebrate Lars Ulrich’s birthday by carving birthday candles into the shape of drumsticks and putting them in a cupcake made to look like a snare drum!

Sometimes I put way too much effort into my comments.

The point is, MMA has become the new, new and exciting thing. And it’s bound to attract shitheads that gravitate from one new and exciting thing to the next new and exciting thing without ever caring enough to understand the intricacies. Once medical science figures how to instantly reattach limbs, these same shitheads will be talking about how they were fans of the Katana Fighting Championship since before that one dude that’s now champion accidentally sliced his dick off in that one match.

So yes, douchebags are attracted to the current popularity of MMA the same way Arianny is attracted to, well, douchebags. And it absolutely is dragging down the average intelligence of the overall population.

*drops Danga’s mic*
nickyroose- August 29, 2012 at 11:10 am
Yes yes new followers and their hated tee-shirts of various clothing designers, we the snobs of the internet would never touch.

However, on this site in 2008-9 people who were the "realfans" would not shut the fuck up about Fedor. The blowback against MMa Mainstreaming via UFC was insane. All of a sudden anyone who Fedor was going to fight was ranked #1 by this site (back when they used to do that). The guy was fighting once twice a year max, and all the "experts" around here said he was unbeatable. I thought a good wrestler could beat him then but that is neither here nor there.

The point is the more we sit here and talk about "Do you even train bro?". the more we become the things we hate.

I loved boxing as a kid, wrestled in high school and watched the first UFC's on VHS. I was in awe of how effective Gracie and wrestling were. It matched my real life experience that grappling beats striking. I have followed the sport ever since. I love watching the little pieces of the sport. The choices fighters make. But I do it FOR MYSELF, I would never go to a live event and watching with my friends is fun enough. One friend picks his favorite fighters purely on race and we all watch together and enjoy it.

What is the perception of the fans and all that shit? I couldn't care less. I'll talk about it here but past that I don't give a shit about how any fan of anything acts ever, it doesn't reflect on me.
nickyroose- August 29, 2012 at 10:58 am

He looks like the Mysterious Jose Rogahn of the mexican fields.
Hammtron- August 29, 2012 at 7:34 am
LOL @ the dude smoking in the background of the Just Bleed guy gif.
holeeball- August 29, 2012 at 12:45 am
MMA fans are at least 10x more intelligent than the average NBA, NFL and baseball fan put together as compared to only 2x 5 years ago. We're on the right track.

And we even have Jon "The JESUS" Jones on our side. WE RULE.
smellypiratehooker- August 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm
No, I don't believe that the evolution of the sport is a reflection of the fanbase because where the sports talent has improved and become more well-rounded, the fanbase has swelled with a bunch of sheepish, Joe Rogan nutthuggers that regurgitate everything that comes out of his mouth like it's gospel(look no further than a mmajunkie comment section). Every once and a while I'll comb through other comment sections(scouting the competition) and I'll be damned if I can get through without reading words like "ala" when comparing someone to another and "definitive advantage". I hear all this talk about the wonderful sides of the sport becoming more popular but I'd be just fine with it staying just where it is. Shit, I don't own stalking in the UFC and fucked if I care if more people clue in to what I've known all along, that MMA is the shit.

I'll end this little rant from a quote from Don Marquis

"The trouble with the public is that there is too much of it; what we need in public is less quantity and more quality."

Jonny5- August 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm
I only watch and care bout mma cuz it is the closest thing to NHB these days...
JoseMonkey- August 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm
For a while, I thought my dad was coming around to like MMA. He's been a casual kickboxing fan since I was a kid, and when I started talking to him about the UFC and the shows on FOX, I was really hopeful he'd get into it.

While he is taking an interest, he just told me the other day about how he "always thought submissions were kinda gay." Sigh. He still thinks he's watching a kickboxing match, I guess.

Not sure this comment was relevant, but I felt like tossing it out there.
crappiefloper- August 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm
Still a bunch of yokels. I hate,"stand em up" while a dudes busy working for position
Mr_Misanthropy- August 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm
I watch it and have been for a while so that should throw all arguments for intelligence right out the window.
intercept440- August 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm
j.jones. your point is invalid since real fans...(like myself) dont give a shit about noobs and hangarounds and metrosexual douchetards who wear ed hardy shirts and affliction t's and act like they know anything about the sport in general...oh that goes for for you tapout wearing fags too...
Ricardo Guitardo- August 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm
All I can tell you is I am the original MMA fan from way back in the day. I liked this when it wasn't cool to like and everyone else is a jonny come lately.
The_Dead_Cow- August 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm
Yes, the evolution of MMA can be reflected in its fanbase by virtue of the increased fanbase itself. As the fanbase grows, it creates many "noobs" that actually dilutes the "MMA intelligence" of the group as a whole. Over time, the "intelligence" of the group should increase. On the other hand, a fuck-ton of people watch football and probably don't understand it either. So, who knows?
The12ozCurls- August 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm
It is hard to say - because I only surround myself with intelligent fans. Wait, except when I am in the comment section - then it is a mixed bag.
The12ozCurls- August 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm
I'm such a dick
Fletch the V Stretch- August 29, 2012 at 6:40 am
At least you are aware... :)
The12ozCurls- August 29, 2012 at 7:01 am
And knowing is half the battle
Dizzylittlelord- August 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm
yes and no, you still get guys who "know ufc" and the know it all assholes who cry about pride and how much better it was than todays era. The average mma fan because they are part of a fledgling sport reads a lot more about it, frequents forums and generally likes to take part in discussions about the sport as a whole instead of "hey derek did you see the game last friday". The more mainstream the sport gets the greater the gulf between the glory days era fans and the tuf fans will get. It all depends which audience the monopoly wants to cater to.
Fried Taco- August 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm
@Alan K - você vai morrer!
Alan K- August 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm
Nick Diaz fans say no. Also, Brazilian fans who chant "Die!" at every fighter they don't like, which includes everyone who isn't Brazilian.
Nippletwist- August 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm
SquidInk- August 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm
"Or is the popularity of the sport actually diluting the intelligence of the average audience member?"

It's become mainstream enough now, the answer to that is "yes."

Just 5-7 years ago, the answer would be "no." The people who were fans in the early years of the legit (regulated) UFC and back in the Pride days actually seemed reasonably intelligent and appeared to understand the "art" in martial arts.

Now, with the sport blowing up, the UFC landing on a major network, and sponsors like Bud Light hopping on the bandwagon, the Neanderthal frat boy douchebag count has gone way, WAY up.
Mr_Misanthropy- August 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm
kill yourself. do it now.