By Matt Saccaro
A discussion about the MMA media surfaced on r/MMA recently, with the inflammatory title “Why do people on this subreddit refuse to acknowledge that the MMA media is bought and paid for?”
The OP (original poster for those unfamiliar with Internet lingo) linked our Shill ‘Em All series as proof of the media’s misdeeds, and also discussed Zach Arnold’s Fight Opinion piece about the connection between WSOF and Zuffa.
MMA fans responded with apathy and quips. Here three select comments:
1. “Sports journalism should be about the sport, they are covering UFC fighters and fights, you don’t need to be unbiased to write who won a fight and how it looked.
I personally don’t give a flying fuck about what did Dana White do today, so if someone is biased and reports only the good stuff that paints him in a good light or someone is shitting on him I don’t give a fuck either way.
My favorite writer is Jack Slack, and I don’t think he mentioned UFC-s promotional practice or what color DW-s shit is, I read him because he is very good at analyzing fights and fighters, if I wanted to know about contracts, pay and substance abuse I’d go read a real newspaper (or not, given the state of journalism in general).”
2. “Who the fuck cares? Mma media sucks because of blog spam and click baiting, not your bullshit.”
And my personal favorite:
3. “Cagepotato are only bitter because they had their credentials pulled.”
There were many other comments (and Bleacher Report’s own Jeremy Botter made a guest appearance to dispel the whispers about the WSOF-Zuffa connection) but the three above—specifically the first two—summarize the general sentiment MMA fans had towards the MMA media. Some only care about what happens in the cage. Others really didn’t care much at all outside of maligning the copy + paste websites that litter the landscape.
Regarding the first comment about outside-the-cage stories not mattering: I’m tempted to call fight breakdowns a lost art in MMA, save for the fact that they’re everywhere come fight time. Extremely high quality ones, however, are harder to find. The Reddit commenter who mentioned Jack Slack is right. Slack is by far the greatest assessor of in-cage techniques that has graced the keyboard.
But most fans fail to realize that much of MMA takes place outside the Octagon. Contracts, fighter pay, fighter behavior, PEDs, and other matters have a tremendous impact on the sport. These issues need to be covered. If a fan doesn’t care about these problems, they’re viewing the sport through an Octagonal microscope. What happens during a fight simultaneously matters most and least and in MMA. The fight is the only reason for all the so-called trappings, yet the trappings have such an influence on the fight that they seemingly exceed it in importance and urgency. What’s a fight without promotion and marketing? What’s a fighter without a fair wage and a good contract? What’ll happen to the sport if the UFC doesn’t crack down on TRT? What if Dana White’s heavy-handedness backfires? Question like that matter. If the media isn’t objective about them, they won’t be answered properly, if at all. Abiding by a list of topics you’re not allowed to talk about doesn’t help anyone but Zuffa and the people who shill for them.
Fans not caring about this kind of stuff is disheartening. While some MMA fans are amazingly passionate and cool, the more vocal fans are awful. Look at their reaction to Tyler Manawaroa’s recent Instagram woes. As Bloody Elbow poster Nick Yidaris said, “the worst part of being an MMA fan is MMA fans”.
Worshiping (or even liking) the media isn’t necessary. But paying attention to it, and reading about all the stories in MMA—not just fight breakdowns, live blogs, and post-event summaries—is crucial.
To harness my inner Dana White, DO YOU WANNA BE A FUCKIN’ MMA FAN? If so, you need to pay attention to everything that happens in MMA, including media matters.