If you are reading this you probably already know about my other job. You likely also know that I won my fight in Adelaide by TKO in 56 seconds. The clever promo running on ESPN700 airwaves pokes a little fun at the fact that I put in a 10 week training camp and flew for a whole day just to put in one minute worth of cage work, but of course I have no complaints about it. Compared to my fight in Boston, where I started slowly and took a beating for about 9 minutes before turning it around, Adelaide was downright pleasant.
One thing about the win that I can’t ignore is how much back-to-back wins change fan and media opinions. The exact same people and outlets that were talking about how I wasn’t long for the UFC before my January win are now writing blogs about how I’m “a welcome addition to a thin LHW division.” I understand the idea that all of us fighters have to prove ourselves before people get excited, but the simplicity of MMA’s “experts” and how they cover the sport is laughable and lazy. The formula goes like this.
If you win, (no matter how) – you are interesting, and good, and the world can’t wait to see what’s next.
If you lose (no matter how) – you are a bum, and it’s only a matter of time before the UFC cuts you, you need to retire.
Of course I am over-simplifying, but not as drastically as I wish I was.
We love winners, and heaven knows how much I love being one right now. But in an individual sport like MMA, that requires SO much work just to be competent in, much less excel, I wish there was also more respect paid to the loser.
For example: my opponent Anthony Perosh. He came into the fight the betting favorite, a hometown hero, 10-time Aussie national champ in Jiu-Jitsu, 5-2 in his most recent UFC stint, with the losses coming at the hands of top-25 light-heavyweights, but after the loss everybody just wanted to talk about how old and slow he looked. Not only is that disrespectful to him, it’s a passive knock on ME.
I have a hard time thinking of another sport that is so eager to write off its losers and heap hyperbolic praise on winners. Can you imagine two or three bad games for Cam Newton being the end of his NFL run? No way that would ever happen in the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. But in the UFC, that is life.
Still, that might be part of the allure, for fans, and (I hesitate to admit) for us fighters as well. There is something exhilarating about hanging your future and physical well-being out there in front of screaming fans on foreign soil. Sometimes, it ends in one glorious minute. Other times, you wake up wondering what happened. The uncertainty is intoxicating. The chatter though–on blogs, radio shows, MMA websites and everywhere else–needs a significant upgrade.
For now I am “exciting”, a “fan favorite”. But I had better get back to the gym and keep improving, because if I don’t win the next one, I’ll be “on my way out the door” before you know it. Because in the UFC, you are only as good as your last fight.