Sorry Excuse for MMA: When the Alibis Outnumber the Fans

Do not trust this man with with monster trucks or Monster energy drinks.

Things have been pretty quiet leading up to this weekend’s Jon Jones’s showdown with Glover Teixeira at UFC 172.

There was a bit of media flurry regarding the random drug testing that both Teixeira and Jones had to undergo (both passed); however, Glover himself has been a pretty quiet opponent.  Jones, however, can’t seem to go very long without the spotlight of the public and the media falling on him like the eye of Mordoor.

Last week, Jones lost his exotic cat Mufasa, hardly qualifying as anything worth disrupting his camp or reporting on; however, just days later, Jones was involved in an Internet brouhaha when accusations of homophobic comments left under his Instagram account were lobbed his way.

Jones’s response was that his phone had been hacked and that the comments, while posted under his account and using his name, did not come from him.  The timeline for when the comments appeared and his own activity seem to absolve him from any violations against the UFC’s code of conduct for fighters. However, it was later revealed by Dana White that his login information and password was shared among 11 other people in his camp.

That’s not a hack as much as it’s just stupidity.  Why someone in his position would hand out his login information to 11 other people seems pretty absurd, though not nearly as absurd as the “I was hacked” talking point.  Perhaps the “I was stupid” talking point doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue.  The issue is really a non-issue, ultimately, but the excuse, “hacking”, makes things seem more mountain than molehill.

Fighters and excuses aren’t exactly anything new.  However, MMA fighters raise the level of excuses to high art.  Recently, when Diego Sanchez was outclassed and wrecked by a more than game Myles Jury at UFC 171, Sanchez put the blame for his loss not on the superior fighting acumen of Myles Jury, but on the fact he had food poisoning the night before his fight.  A steak tartare and raw quail eggs were the culprit for his being outclassed in the cage.   The dinner choice, of course, begs the question, why did a fighter who cuts weight to get to 155 pounds decide to try out something new and off the menu the night before a fight when he should likely be re-hydrating?

Sometimes, the excuse comes about as a result of the fighters handlers and hangers on.  When Antonio Bigfoot Silva tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone after his December 2013 war of attrition with Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 33, Silva was issued a ninth month suspension before the excuses and talking points muffled the initial praise for the fight.  Despite the fact that this was not Silva’s first banned substance violation, his manager ran to the front lines to bear the brunt of backlash from an MMA community calling Silva a cheat.  Unfortunately for Bigfoot, the excuse his manager gave didn’t do him any favors.  His manager Alex Davis went on record as saying Silva’s testosterone was so low, he was lactating at one point.  If you’ve seen Bigfoot Silva, you have to imagine that’s a whole lot of milk.

Outside of the cage, MMA fighters are also pretty adept at making excuses.  In 2008, after losing the UFC light heavyweight belt to Forrest Griffin, Quinton Rampage Jackson was arrested for evading arrest and reckless hit-and-run driving after he plowed into a car and sent pedestrians fleeing in panic.  According to Rampage and Dana White, the root of Rampage’s running amok fell to energy drinks, fasting, and a lack of sleep. It couldn’t have just been a bad choice that led him to evade the police, right?  It’s not like Rampage doesn’t have a history of bad choices, like signing on to endorse Monster energy drinks knowing that he has a terrible reaction to imbibing too many energy drinks.

Of course MMA fans give the best excuses of all.  When the numbers for this past weekend’s UFC on Fox Browne/Werdum card were announced to an abysmal 1.98 million viewers, the excuses were in bloom.  Easter was to blame. The lack of star power was to blame. The NBA playoffs were to blame. The fact that Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg had to wear suits was to blame. Somehow ABC’s annual replay of The Ten Commandments came away blame-free.

You know those rating systems are flawed. They don't take in account houses that have... uh... more than two television sets... and other things of that nature.

You know those rating systems are flawed. They don’t take in account houses that have… uh… more than two television sets… and other things of that nature.

Lost in the finger pointing is that the average, casual MMA doesn’t consider the Fox cards to be event television, especially if a title isn’t on the line. That’s the issue though: with so many cards this year, which intriguing matchups does the UFC give its partners like Fox, which does it keep for itself for Fight Pass, and which does it issue a PPV price tag? That’s a hard question to answer.  It’s a hard question just to ask.  And in that way—inside of the cage, outside of the cage, behind the cage—the lack of accountability is systemic.  It’s easier to give an excuse, especially when an excuse is served with a side of mea culpa.  That kind of dish goes down smoother than steak tartare with raw quail eggs.


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