September 28, 2006

Editorial by Matt Hill, MMAWeekly.com
Tensions soar to previously uncharted levels. Wonders, doubts, and fears creep into the mind and seem inescapable. Questions resound. How did training camp go? Are there any nagging injuries that could prevent a good performance? Am I mentally prepared? Could I have done something more?

I know what you all may be thinking. I am simply recording the thoughts that riddle fighters’ minds in the moments before their competition. Ironically, though, this is not the case. These questions aren’t ones echoing from the mind of a fighter, but instead from the mind of a fan. You heard it correctly. A FAN.

True fans, you know, the ones who check their favorite fighter’s web site six times a day and linger on every word from his lips. These are the fans that argue over statistics and questionable decisions. This type of fan probably knows his or her favorites fighter’s middle name and birthplace, and likely makes grade school comparisons like, “My fighter can beat up your fighter.”

Please don’t be confused. I am talking about die-hard fans, not the “You’re my favorite fighter today, but I will blog about you being past your prime tomorrow” type of fan. A serious fan isn’t satisfied with watching his or her favorite fighter compete in a big show, and then disappear into oblivion for 3 months. The fan I am talking about desires to know what their fighter eats, drinks, how he trains, even what brand of fight-shorts he wears. This is what I mean when I say ‘true’ fan.

The problem with a true fan, though, is that when fight night finally comes along, and the months of buildup finally come to fruition, that fan may feel even more trepidation than the fighter he or she supports.

‘True’ fans can feel a form of anxiety that traverses straight through to their bones in the moments leading up to a fight. On fight night, the anxiety may get even worse, resulting in a nauseating sensation that resonates through his or her entire body.

When a ‘true’ fan’s fighter steps into the cage, everything around them dims, and their stomachs may begin to slowly gurgle, a reaction followed by a deep, sharp pain and a fidgety nervousness that refuses to let up until the fight has concluded.

Once the fight begins, the ‘true’ fan may demand that everyone around him or her be silent, as they apparently attempt to telepathically send advice to ‘their’ fighter on how to escape the kimura he just found himself in.

Then, cutting through the silence, the true fan begins to hysterically scream at the television, “Roll him over! Sweep his left leg! Hit him! Do it now!”

People around them may think they have lost it. They write them off as crazy.

But you’re not crazy; the word passionate is much less harsh, and as far as you can tell, it fits you much better. You are not obsessed. You are inspired.

As a ‘true’ fan, you feel a great rush of exhilaration before and during a fight. If the fight doesn’t go your way, though, the time following a loss can be one filled with heartache and adjustment.

You may be unable to sleep that night, more reluctant than normal to go to work the next day, even hesitant to answer your phone. You are in mourning, and that is okay.

You eventually find out that life does indeed go on, even after Chuck Liddell knocks out your hero Randy Couture for a second time, or the enormously talented Matt Hughes brutalizes the legend and UFC Hall-of-Famer Royce Gracie in dominating fashion.

All MMA fans must remember, as great as the sport of MMA is, it is only a sport.

In the words of UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture, “It [fighting] is a sporting competition. Whether I win or lose does not determine whether my family still loves me or not. It doesn’t matter to them. They will support me either way.” Couture then said, “If losing is the worst thing that ever happens to me, then I’m doing pretty darn good.”

So, if you find yourself in this ‘true’ fan category, please remember: Although your fighter may have lost the fight, he will more than likely be back to do it again. A loss is not the end of the line, but instead a good reason to knock the fighter that hurt your feelings.

You need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go ahead, take a look at your favorite fighter’s web site, relish in the light of his former glory, and start a blog making fun of the guy that beat him.