In this new column, I’ll bring up a topic that people, well… MMA geeks are talking about. A “hot” topic -but “cold” cuz… ice. Yeah, I know. Lame. Anyway, I’ll introduce the topic, give my thoughts on it and then it’s your turn down there in the comments. If I’ve learned anything on the internets, it’s that people love sharing their opinions via it.
In the tradition of Socrates and Aristotle, this will be a forum for you to discuss the topic of the week with intelligent discourse, civil debate and thoughtful perspectives. Oh, who am I kidding? You’ll be calling each other d**k riders, nuthuggers, questioning other commenter’s sexuality and insulting the chastity of their mommas.
This week’s topic, in light of the Conor McGregor hype train rolling into Dublin on Saturday, is cockiness and trash-talking in MMA. On one end of the spectrum you have your Diaz Brothers, Chael Sonnens, Conor McGregors and Ronda Rouseys. Other other end, your GSPs, your Demetrious Johnsons and your Brian Stanns. Personally, I like a fighter’s personality or I don’t. The shit talking and cockiness can wear on my nerves in some cases but at the same time, I can find the overly humble and respectful thing either phoney or boring. Depends on the fighter and the situation.
I love the way the Diaz brothers often hilariously shake things up and keep it real but I think they can also act like petulant, spoiled children sometimes. I find Conor McGregor entertaining. Is he an overrated piece of hype? Time will tell. But despite the fact that he belittles fighters that I like a lot, I think it keeps it fun and if it gets him more attention and pushes him ahead of the line -something Chael was a master of- good on him. If he’s biting off more than he can chew and he’s more hype than contender, the octagon will reveal that soon enough. A major criticism of Sonnen was that his mouth got him opportunities he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Yeah? And? Why would someone with his talent to talk and stir up shit storms NOT take advantage of that to advance his career? That would be like expecting Ben Askren to not wrestle so much because of the fans that think he’s boring. It’s what he does.
At the end of the day, I don’t get the point of view that all fighters should be humble and respectful. If that’s truly who a fighter is, cool, be that. But these guys and gals are not regional managers of Staples. They try to hurt their opponent in a damn cage! Some cockiness is probably a good thing to have when your job is to get in a fight. Now, I may not like how a particular fighter does cocky or trash-talk (see: Koscheck) but as much as I don’t want to see MMA become pro-wrestling, it would be less exciting and engaging without some of the big personalities and outside-the-cage beefs. And most importantly, I enjoy it and take it with a grain of salt.
What do you think? Is trash-talking and fighter self-hype hurting the legitimacy and appeal of the sport or does it keep it fun and add entertainment and anticipation to a fight?