Can mixed martial arts (MMA) survive on competition alone?
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, doesn’t understand why people think he’s a super nice guy when in reality, all he does is keep his mouth shut, train hard, and fight to win.
“I don’t know why everyone calls me a nice guy, to be honest,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “Like, I’m not nice just because I’m not a dickhead, you know what I mean? Everyone, especially in the MMA game, everyone wants to jump on each other, they want to shit on each other, they want to try to, instead of improving and building their own careers and improving the scene, improving the sport themselves, they’d rather shit on everybody around them.”
That stands in contrast to interim middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, who will attempt to unify the 185-pound titles when he collides with the
Meth Head “Reaper” in the UFC 243 pay-per-view (PPV) main event on Oct. 5 in Australia.
Something Whittaker (20-4) is taking seriously.
“Just because I don’t talk trash and I’m not mouthy and I’m not mouthing off like I’m in the school yard, doesn’t mean I don’t take this for what it is,” Whittaker continued. “I am doing everything in my power to break you, because we are going to go fight in an Octagon. I don’t need to smack talk to get in that mind frame, I’m already there. Like, we’re gonna go fight to the death in so many months time and I’m gonna give everything I have, I just don’t smack talk though. But don’t misinterpret that for me not taking the fight seriously.”
I know it’s hard to see this sport from the outside, but cage fights are mostly uneventful and need to be “sold.” In the same way a nine-inning (three hour) baseball game features roughly 18 minutes of ball-in-play action, what block of time during a three-round MMA fight is spent pawing the jab, bobbing and weaving, struggling for position against the cage, or (gasp) laying on the ground?
The drama behind the fights is typically the hook, so the more each fighter can manufacture, the better the emotional payoff. Though maybe there comes a time when the line gets crossed (like here), which may not set the sport back, but it certainly doesn’t help it move forward.