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The 95 Theses of MMA

(Advance upon me, my brother.”)

A Disputation on the Sorry-Ass State of Mixed Martial Arts, And Its Potential Improvement, by Ben Goldstein and Matt Saccaro.

Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, we humbly offer these 95 suggestions — nay, demands — to repair the sport of MMA, which has been deteriorating and fading from relevance for at least the past two years. One only needs to look at the pair of woeful UFC cards that are being offered today as proof of the over-saturation and plummeting quality that has turned MMA fandom into a depressing chore at times. (As a show of protest, we will not be giving those events any coverage. Unless something really crazy happens, obviously.)

If you support our efforts toward MMA reformation, please print these 95 theses out and nail them to the door of your nearest Buffalo Wild Wings.

1. Now that the UFC has proven it can hold two events on two continents on the same day, it must cease doing so at once. The overwhelming quantity of UFC shows has made every card seem interchangeable and generic, and has sapped our interest in the sport. More is not always better.

2. If the UFC refuses to reduce its frantic schedule, then its promoters must at least acknowledge that not every event is of equally high importance. UFC 172 was not “the most stacked card we’ve ever done in UFC history“; such violations of truth should be condemned.

3. The Lord Almighty did not intend for us to still be hearing STEMM’s “Face the Pain” on a regular basis in the year 2014. Indeed, this atrocious song must be banished from UFC pay-per-view broadcasts immediately.

4. The same goes for “Fallen,” a.k.a. the butt-rock riffage that closes out the UFC pay-per-views, and leaves us all with a headache before bedtime. You probably didn’t even know STEMM was responsible for that one too, but they are, God damn them.

5. Any MMA promotion that holds its events on Indian reservations and doesn’t bother to drug-test its fighters is not a promotion to be taken seriously.

6. In addition, it does not befit an A-list promotion to make a fighter’s purse dependent on ticket sales. If this is part of your business model, cease the charade of pretending to be big-time.

7. If the UFC claims to be a legitimate sports league, it must stop pretending that former champions never existed, simply because the president of the company has beef with them.

8. And: The president of the promotion must never do unflattering impressions of how female fighters look while wearing dresses.

9. And: The credentialed media in attendance must not laugh at those impressions, for the love of Jesus Christ.

10. And: The UFC must not cut Top 10-ranked fighters on the basis of their fighting style and/or because their $66k show-money makes them “super f–cking expensive.”

11. Conversely, the UFC must not shut out elite fighters on the basis of their fighting style and/or to make a point that champions of rival organizations haven’t fought anybody relevant.

12. I mean, especially if you’re just going to turn around and sign a 2-0 local nobody like Royston Wee. Zuffa should be raising the bar for what it means to be “UFC caliber,” not constantly dragging that bar into the dirt.

13. If you dare to give yourself the lofty title of “World Series of Fighting,” you must not give cheap-ass Boost Mobile burner phones to the winners of your athletic contests.

14. As for the wealthier MMA promotions: If you find it necessary to contractually ban your fighters from riding motorcycles, you must not give your fighters motorcycles.

15. And certainly, a promoter should not make up a weird technicality in order to justify this hypocrisy.

16. MMA promoters must call freak-show fights what they are: Freak-show fights. Euphemistically referring to them as “cirque du soleil fights” or “high-concept fights” is dishonest and unnecessary. We like a good freak-show fight once in a while. They’re nothing to be ashamed of — unless a promoter tries to pass these bouts off as serious competition.

17. The practice of record-padding by bringing in winless jobbers to dive for a few bucks is unholy, and a sin. It’s a cheap old boxing trick; we’re supposed to be better than that.

18. If such fighters with ill-gotten records are catapulted into main events, may they not be promoted as human buzzsaws who legions of men on the regional circuit were terrified of.

19. And if said fighters — or any fighter — suffers defeat in the main event of a card, they shall not be placed on the preliminary bouts in their next match.

20. The presence of ring girls in MMA is a relic from an age of combat sports in which sexy women were needed to break up the uncomfortable homoeroticism of an arena full of men watching other half-naked men sweat on each other. Now that mixed martial arts boasts a multitude of female fans — as well as female competitors — it is only appropriate that MMA promotions begin adding male round card engineers.

21. We reject the UFC’s insistence that every title fight should be marketed the exact same way. (“_______ is the most dangerous fighter that _______ has ever faced! Order the PPV! *cue STEMM music*”)

22. Whoever was responsible for the UFC 168 “YOOOOOUUUUU AND MEEEEEEEEE” promo should be fired and forced to wander the earth, jobless for all eternity.

23. And the same goes for the UFC design intern who’s been doing the Fight Pass posters.

24. MMA fans must cease their complaints about “spoilers” related to live fight broadcasts. These are athletic competitions, not episodes of Game of Thrones, and should rightly be reported as any other breaking news. Do you half-witted crybabies realize that fans of other sports do not behave this way?

25. If a round is dead-even in terms of overall effectiveness, it shall be scored 10-10. Judges must award these scores when appropriate, and the athletic commissions that discourage such 10-10 scores should be publicly crucified.

26. Furthermore: Intangibles like “Octagon control” must not be used to justify 10-9 scores in rounds that are too close to call. Rounds are never to be awarded to the fighter who made scarier faces while swinging at air.

27. Considering that TUF 20 will introduce the UFC women’s strawweight division and crown the division’s inaugural champion, the season is somewhat relevant to the sport. But after it finishes airing, The Ultimate Fighter should be canceled, because nobody cares about this tired crap anymore.

28. As a promoter, your goal should be to build up your stars — not bury them after dominant performances. It is sacrilege to pass judgment on elite fighters for not brawling enough.

29. In fact, directly rewarding fighters for continuously putting on sloppy brawls — through Fight of the Night bonuses and increased job security — is counter-productive to the quality of the sport and to the long-term health of those fighters.

30. New York State should immediately end its shameful and outdated ban on professional mixed martial arts, which is driven only by union lobbying interests.

31. Now that the validity of random drug tests has been proven in sight of gods and men, the frequency of their use should only be multiplied.

32. MMA fighters should be taught proper PR practices in response to failing a drug test. Claiming that “my trainer put an over-the-counter supplement that just so happens to preserve my testicle size in my water bottle” is sinful—as is blaming your doctor, or any drug test failure excuse uttered by Chael Sonnen.

33. When a promotion books a match between two struggling fighters on losing streaks, it’s generally known as a “win or go home fight.” These are solemn affairs, best reserved for the prelims — not the goddamned main event.

34. The UFC’s size is not commensurate with that of soccer, and never will be. Stating otherwise is blasphemous.

35. Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White must make their workout regimen known to the masses. The amount of raw eggs and Flintstone’s Vitamins they consume must also be revealed. It is a crime to keep the secret to achieving such muscular proportions locked away.

36. The existing ban against the so-called “renegade” MMA blog CagePotato — as well as any current bans against other, more legitimate MMA media outlets and journalists — must be lifted from now until the end of time.

37. The UFC shall also free the dissident GIF-maker known as Zombie Prophet, for his work aids the UFC’s exposure, not hinders it. In fact, pursuing legal action on any individual or website for creating or posting a GIF is loathsome behavior fitting of only the most greedy and misguided companies, and such actions must cease. Seriously, are you so insecure about your product that you think a 3-second GIF of a KO constitutes theft?

38. MMA referees must actually enforce the rules by deducting points instead of repeatedly issuing warnings. MMA fighters have no incentive not to cheat at least once.

39. And furthermore: If a fight’s ending is directly influenced by an illegal technique — e.g., shots to the back of the head, fence-grabbing to set up a knockout — it should be deemed a disqualification. Referees should not simply award a victory to the guy who’s running around the cage celebrating.

40. MMA fighters who agree to phone interviews must answer their phone when it’s time to do the interview.

41. During pre-fight interviews, MMA fighters must avoid repeating unbearable and meaningless clichés, e.g., that they’re not looking past their opponents, or that they’re bringing back an old version of themselves, or that they’ve become an entirely new fighter since their last fight.

42. Media members who ask fighters about the state of their training camp rank among the laziest curs. A fighter will almost always say that he’s in the best shape of his life, even if he’s been playing Dark Souls II for the duration of his camp.

43. During post-fight interviews, MMA fighters must not respond to the interviewer’s first question by thanking all of their sponsors and/or Jesus Christ, then forgetting what the original question was.

44. And speaking of our Lord and Savior: While Jesus surely appreciates your faith and devotion, and may reward you with eternal life, MMA fighters must understand that He had nothing to do with your victory, and in fact the notion of prize-fighting itself runs counter to several of His teachings.

45. Seriously. Thanking Jesus for helping you beat the shit out of another human being in front of his wife and kids makes you look like a moron. Stop.

46. The unfortunate losers of mixed martial arts contests must also avoid the use of predictable clichés in post-fight interviews, e.g., that they just “got caught,” or that they should have followed their gameplan, or that their opponent was “the better man tonight,” or that — God help us — “it is what it is.”

47. May the Lord strike you down if you blame your loss on the pre-fight consumption of uncooked meat, raw eggs, or “a bunch of candy, dude.” Such excuses will only reflect poorly on your judgment, and the fans will mock you for it without mercy.

48. And let it be known that any fighter who blames a loss on an injury must be derided on all message boards and social media networks. Nearly all combatants enter a contest with one form of nagging injury or another. Using it as an excuse afterwards is a cop out.

49. Asking an MMA fighter to “talk us through the replay” has never resulted in anything insightful, and we call for the abolition of this awkward tradition. Why would you expect coherent analysis from an exhausted, adrenaline-charged, non-native English speaker, who is probably standing there concussed while the microphone is in his face?

50. Similarly, broadcast personalities must refrain from all yip-yapping, gum-bumping, and cutting into a fighter’s ring time.

51. D-list celebrities do not constitute divine authority, nor do they convey the UFC brand’s popularity. Their tweets are not to be broadcast live, and their vaguely recognizable visages are not to be panned to between fights. The aforementioned policy also applies to former A-list celebrity Mel Gibson, who has succumbed to the ways of the wicked.

52. On the issue of tweets and celebrities: Bizarre foot-fetish tweets shall not be officially endorsed by the UFC’s twitter account. That makes MMA look every bit like the grimy spectacle it really is.

53. Disdain for women’s MMA is not to be expressed if it is on the grounds of “I don’t like women seeing get hurt,” “women don’t belong in the cage,” or other such misogynistic bullshit.

54. However, asserting that a women’s fight was poor in quality or technique does not equate with hating women’s MMA.

55. MMA fighters have neither the will nor the power to operate their social media accounts with discretion. This needs to change; rape jokes, and bigoted comments on social media accounts cannot be allowed to see the light of day.

56. MMA fans should be taught that Dana White’s opinion is constantly vacillating between (illogical) extremes and counts for absolutely nothing.

57. Furthermore, let it be understood that Dana White himself cannot create MMA history, but only declare and confirm sections of mythology that meet Zuffa’s needs. It is the duty of the media and those who care about MMA to disallow such actions, and to disseminate the sport’s sacred history.

58. If plenary remission is to be granted to any figure in MMA, let it be granted to Tito Ortiz. To put it less pedantically: LEAVE TITO ALONE. He’s already been made fun of enough. Let’s move on.

59. The same power a fighter exercises in matters of opinion is also exercised by every single fan and media member. That is to say, stating “I’m a fighter, bro” doesn’t necessarily mean your word is worth solid gold, and your one amateur fight where you got tapped out in 20 seconds doesn’t automatically trump the thousands of hours of fighting that a journalist has analyzed.

60. Conversely, MMA media members only embarrass themselves when they try to act like fighters. That includes wearing TapouT t-shirts on press row and bragging about training full contact four days a week.

61. In addition: All those who fight an amateur MMA bout (or engage in other martial pursuits) specifically to change their Facebook photo to a picture of them fighting (or engaging in said martial pursuit) will be eternally damned.

62. There is no divine authority for establishing what paying customers can and cannot say. This includes “You will die” chants, “U-S-A” chants, and booing in general.

63. Before criticism of an MMA-related article can be levied upon the writer or the website’s editorial staff, the article must first be read—especially if you’re the president of the sport’s largest MMA promotion.

64. Similarly, if the UFC president chooses to permanently ban fighter for a rules infraction, it would help if he actually saw the rules infraction in question.

65. We should most carefully guard those fighters who are at risk for long term health issues. They should perhaps be forced into retirement if they choose to keep fighting despite the obvious detriments to their health.

66. If a fighter announces his departure from the sport after a long, fruitful career, he must not immediately unretire in order to make a few bucks, or to chase the elusive thrill of victory. Retirement is one of the sacraments of MMA; it is sinful to invoke it in vain.

67. That being said, if you are an MMA legend who now spends his days being eaten alive by young, unheralded prospects, it may be time to hang up those gloves.

68. No MMA promoter should allow one of his own employees to accuse him of dick-riding on national television, without some sort of harsh public retribution. I mean, come on man, your kids are watching.

69. UFC president Dana White must stop referring to his male fighters as “kid,” and his female fighters (and the occasional female journalist) as “sweetheart.”

70. Any true MMA fan whatsoever, living or dead, must not be legally persecuted by the UFC. Customers are happy to pay for something that’s a good value. Don’t punish them because you’re not offering a product worth paying for.

71. UFC Fight Pass cannot possibly compete with the WWE Network — which contains the entirety of the WWE’s, WCW’s, and ECW’s digital libraries as well as all of the WWE’s current television and PPV offerings — but it should. PPV is clearly dying and web streaming services are ascendant. To become an attractive product, Fight Pass should feature a complete library of Zuffa-owned fights as well as access to PPVs.

72. If Zuffa deems it financially ruinous or otherwise untoward to place PPVs on Fight Pass, then the amount of PPVs they hold a year must be lessened. The wallets of MMA fans are collapsing under the struggle of supporting their loyalty to the sport.

73. It should be stated that no one is sure of the reality of the UFC’s digital security (both on Fight Pass and—not even the UFC itself. Security on these mediums must be prioritized in accordance with legitimate suggestions made by the community.

74. If the UFC can remove fighters from its rankings simply to punish them during contractual disputes, then those rankings are not worthy of being mentioned on television broadcasts.

75. The approved media members who continue to compile these rankings and submit their votes must realize that essentially, they are working as unpaid marketing interns.

76. It is vain, lazy, and ineffective to rely on salvation by three letters to sell a pay-per-view: U, F, and C. While the promotion still maintains that it is the “Superbowl of MMA,” this notion has become a punchline among the learned. UFC PPVs need a sense of gravitas again.

77. Essentially, each PPV event has become a clone of the one before it. The UFC leadership seems perversely proud of this fact, but such hubris will lead to its downfall. Once fans get in the habit of missing pay-per-views, they never come back.

78. Professional fighting is a personality-driven enterprise; from hairstyles to entrance music, stars are built on their unique aesthetics. Conversely, making fighters wear a standardized uniform for walkouts and competition is counter-productive to what makes MMA exciting. Fighters should be given the freedom to express themselves.

79. Indeed, we declare: The UFC must permit fighters to become bigger than the brand, or bigger than the brand’s figurehead.

80. The utterance of “I respect him; he’s a great opponent” is sacrilegious to prize fighting tradition. Rivalries sell. If you don’t have anything mean to say, don’t say anything at all.

81. To all the MMA writers who fancy themselves Nostradamus: Your predictions are always wrong and nobody cares about them in the first place.

82. And to MMA fans, we must state the following: Your “support” had nothing to do with your chosen fighter securing victory. Just wanted to make that clear.

83. Also: You cannot beat a professional fighter up, no matter how bad their performance is on a given night. Never, ever say you can — even if you’re trying to impress a girl and lose your virginity.

84. It is sinful, untoward, idiotic, sordid, and logically bankrupt to say “A fighter is upset they’re only making $60k/$60k? What’s his problem! I’ll take that much money to fight!” and other variants. Heathens uttering these words have no idea about the expenses of being a fighter and how little of that money they actually walk away with.

85. The UFC does poorly when they bring their presence into a market with a clearly deficient MMA ecosystem. If they must lower the bar to sign fighters from such a place, then they’ll have to lower it even further to sign opponents those fighters can actually beat.

86. It is blasphemy to suggest that every single UFC champion is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world when he or she has a fight coming up.

87. The MMA media who permit assertions of that kind to be made to the people without hindrance will have to answer for it.

88. The “LET ME BANG, BRO” attitude permeating MMA should be discouraged whenever possible. Turning MMA into C-level kickboxing but with more tribal tats and emotionally frustrated bald men won’t do the sport’s image any favors.

89. The UFC should bestow sanctity upon its Hall of Fame by removing corrupt influences and admitting all those who truly belong in it.

90. Since Lorenzo Fertitta is a billionaire and Dana White can afford to import snow to his driveway and tip casino dealers $200,000 during a single hot streak, why does the UFC not pay new prospects more than $8k/$8k?

91. Again: since these fighters are risking their brains to compete in a sport that is definitely not “safer than boxing,” can the UFC establish a minimum payrate of, say, $20k/$20k?

92. It is untoward and discomforting to market all female fighters as sex symbols when not all female fighters can be marketed in such a way.

93. All those who believe entertainment a certainty by means of purchasing a wolf ticket will be eternally damned, along with the promotion that sold the wolf tickets.

94. MMA fighters should be taught that humping, motorboating, or slapping reporters are actions of the most vile sort.

95. Honest, sincere criticism must always be levied upon all entities in MMA — be it fans, media, promoters, fighters, or officials — if the grace and glory of MMA is to be maintained from now until the end of time.

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