I've been thinking for the past couple weeks about changing my UFC/MMA section into a bona-fide Video Game Corner. Much of my downtime (repair time, as those like me who get kicked and punched all day would call it) is spent on my XBOX 360, trying my best to finish up all the RPGs I can before committing myself over to the XBOX One. One of the reasonings behind changing the section over to video games instead of MMA is a little personal and complicated, but should be easy for some of you to relate.
In late 2006, after a particularly ugly breakup, I decided to give the UFC a second go with all my extra time on my hands and with my limitless access to free delivery rentals (before Netflix went streaming, it was in competition with Blockbuster Video on its ability to mail you DVDs, and since I was an employee of Blockbuster, I took advantage of how easy it was to cheat the shitty online rental service and get month after month for free). At that time, my only real experience with MMA was UFC 1 through 4, having seen them on pay-per-view. Royce Gracie, in my mind, was still the most spectacular human being that could never be defeated. Working at the video store, I occasionally came across a UFC DVD, specifically remembering the coverbox for UFC 46, "Super Saturday", and looking at these plain-looking guys and wondering where the awesomeness of 600-pound guys fighting 200-pound guys went.
"Who the fuck is this Randy Couture asshole?", I remember thinking, also not knowing how the hell to say his name, pronouncing it "cooter". Regardless, I gave it an honest shot.
Somewhere along the line, a friend told me how awesome this Ultimate Fighter reality show was. I thought it was probably shit, of course, upon hearing it labeled a "reality show", immediately putting it in the same category as Survivor. I got my first UFC DVD in the mail (not remembering which one), and fell in love immediately. I had no fucking idea what I was thinking about dismissing what I had seen on the shelves. I not only wanted to see more fights from Matt Hughes and Randy Cooter (my early favorites), I NEEDED to see more. In the matter of a month, I had seen every available fight on DVD, and even went into the Pride catalog.
About four months later, I was introduced to who Bas Rutten was, and before you know it, I was training at Bas' gym, and having my first MMA fight in July 2008. I loved, and still love, MMA.
After getting the majority of my family on board, and buying nearly EVERY PPV event from UFC 71 to 171, you could say I was a freak about the combat sport.
Then, something happened. I started to see through some of the cracks of the business.
A couple years back, they announced an increase in number of events, which was great at first, but quickly began to lose its luster when a new event would be on nearly every week. Fight cards began to get watered down, especially with the advent with the new weight classes. Then the UFC unveiled their bullshit Fight Pass, and a great chunk of great fights were relegated to that service (something I refuse to buy to this day). Somewhere along the line, my addiction cleared itself up, and watching fights became more educational rather than entertaining (I teach MMA now).
I still love to watch fights, but that sweaty-palms, butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling I used to get is gone. One of the problems is because of the lack of real "stars" like Couture, Hughes, Liddell...guys people used to go out of their way to watch and talk about. The UFC became "too popular" at a time when many of the hard-core fan's favorite fighters were already on their way into retirement.
What we have now is that strange notion where the majority of fighters feel, sad to say, the same. There are few names that can put asses into bar stools like the fighters before the UFC went main stream. Everyone is fan, and everyone thinks they are a fighter. Some of the passion has dissipated, and I blame the combat sport's lack of foresight into bringing a quality product with the FANS in mind, first and foremost. Now we get company presidents bad mouthing the fans and telling them that if they don't like a fight card because it clearly is a shitty card, they should go watch The Notebook instead. How about fix your fucking product instead of calling us assholes for voicing an opinion on why we are paying $60 fucking dollars for something that is NOWHERE NEAR as good as what we were getting for free a week ago.
Watching fights no longer consumes me the way it used to. I find myself fast-forwarding through a lot of the lesser bouts (looking for a finish or a spirited exchange between fighters), getting to the main card post haste. Basically, I felt nothing when I missed UFC 177. I don't give a shit that the fights were good - I would rather spend my money on heavyweight fights (my favorite) where little happens rather than a bunch of smaller guys whose names I don't know who just happen to put on decent fights. I want "names" on the fight cards - stars - if I'm going to pay for it. And that is a difficult task to achieve, given that the level of the "superstars" that I grew to love no longer exist on that same level. Sure, you have a Jon Jones, a Ronda Rousey, or an Anthony Pettis. But there's still something missing that once existed when the UFC and mixed-martial arts was in it's infancy as a kind of 'underground' passion sport. Watching fights now is like watching a Schwarzenegger film two decades after he was able to open a film based on his name alone. Sure, it's awesome to see him in The Expendables 3, but the spark of excitement is missing. The butterflies are gone.
Anyway, my passion has never left video games. So that's why I'm thinking of changing it over.
That's all. Enjoy.