Following another lackluster and disappointing event, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and its president, Dana White, have once again come under heavy scrutiny among fans online, as a recent trend of negative sentiment and controversy continues to surround the promotion.
With a largely disastrous bout between Kevin ?Kimbo Slice? Ferguson and Houston ?The Assassin? Alexander from last night?s TUF 10 Finale receiving the brunt of the criticism, an announcement regarding the eleventh season of the reality show also has fans frustrated.
Citing overwhelming demand from UFC fans, White announced that former UFC Light Heavyweight Champions Chuck ?The Iceman? Liddell and ?The Huntington Beach Bad Boy? Tito Ortiz would serve as opposing coaches for next year?s airing of TUF 11.
The announcement was met with a noticeable smattering of boos and near-complete indifference from the live Las Vegas crowd, but has since been a hot topic among fans online, who have almost exclusively panned the bout as a waste of time.
White, who seemed visibly unsure of himself as he made the announcement, had to be reminded of the weight class that the TUF 11 contestants would be competing at and appeared to be taken aback by the negative response from the crowd.
The announcement appeared to make little sense, with Liddell having lost four of his last five fights and Ortiz winless in his four most recent trips to the Octagon.
What was perhaps more troubling was White?s assertions that it was fan demand that led to the Liddell-Ortiz pairing ? which will presumably lead to a third fight between the two in mid-2010 ? when backlash in the past 18 hours suggests otherwise.
It is not the first time that White has recently made claims that have been exaggerated or completely untrue, but his recent tendency to stretch the truth on frequent occasion has upset even his biggest supporters.
Fans, who feel that they are being lied to and treated as fools, have expressed anger or frustration with many of White?s comments, not the least of which being his frequent attacks on WAMMA Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko, who competes for the rival Strikeforce promotion.
While White has done great things for the sport in the past, his brash personality is beginning to catch up with him and dozens of recent comments have mocked White when he has been forced to hastily scramble to replace main events due to injury.
Karma does seem to have a way of rearing its head and some feel that White is merely facing the consequences for spending significant amounts of time insulting the competition while his own promotion struggles.
Mixed martial arts fans tend to become overdramatic when expressing their displeasure with events in the sport, which has led to dozens if not hundreds of recent forum posts suggesting that the UFC is fixing fights or that MMA is imminently dying.
While the idea of fight fixing is incredibly unlikely, the very insinuation that the sport is being tampered with, as some have claimed after the bizarre Slice vs Alexander bout last night, is extremely bad for the sport?s credibility.
It did not help matters that a Spike TV-backed promo for Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling, featuring the well-known Terry ?Hulk Hogan? Bollea, was showcased between fights.
This only added fuel to the fire of arguments from critics who feel that the sport is becoming too closely related to professional wrestling.
However, the primary source of discontent appears to centre around the perceived oversaturation of recent events, as both the UFC and Strikeforce have significantly increased the frequency of their cards.
With both promotions planning to run 20 or more shows in 2010, each would be wise to look closely at the past five months of MMA history to see the adverse effect that ill-timed injuries and ?quantity over quality? cards can have.
While each UFC event since the historic UFC 100 card in July has featured at least two exciting and compelling matchups, including last night?s TUF 10 Finale, there is a growing argument that the UFC peaked at the UFC 100 event and has been on a downward slide since.
As with the issue of perceived fight tampering, whether or not the promotion is, in fact, on a downward slide is less relevant than the fact that such a stance is being taken in the first place.
UFC 100 was designed to further springboard the promotion into the mainstream of sports, and it did just that in many ways, but a poor economy, numerous injuries to top stars and a lack of compelling and meaningful fights ? especially main events ? has prevented the success from continuing.
Not to be neglected is the ongoing and very real issue of scoring and officiating problems, which has plagued a number of recent fights, including a UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout between Lyoto ?The Dragon? Machida and Mauricio ?Shogun? Rua at UFC 104.
However, in the wake of the tremendous backlash and outcry of support for Rua, who was arguably robbed of a rightful title victory (MMARising.com scored the bout 49-46 for Rua), some fans turned their attention and frustrations in the wrong direction.
While UFC President Dana White does an excellent job of attracting negative attention with unprofessional conduct and constant (and often immature) attacks on promotional competitors, he has nothing to do with the appointment of referees or judges.
For that, the ire of the sport?s fans must be directed to athletic commissions, which, especially in the case of the embattled California State Athletic Commission, have been called into question in the past.
Despite Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer?s comments that downplay the ongoing problem with uneducated judges and inefficient referees, the evidence is plain as day on the screen as fans tune into their favourite MMA events.
Last night?s bout between rising light heavyweight star Jon ?Bones? Jones and Matt ?The Hammer? Hamill, wherein Jones was disqualified for illegal elbow strikes that did not appear to be the reason for Hamill?s inability to continue, further highlighted the need for rule changes.
For the first time, instant replay was used to determine the outcome of the bout, and much-maligned referee Steve Mazzagatti did make the only call that he could under the circumstances, but he was merely following a ruling the doesn?t make sense.
In the end, part of the reason why progress is often stifled is because discussions among fans online often dissolve into arguments between ?casual fans? who may be new to the sport and long-time supporters of MMA.
Rather than working together to continue to grow the sport, the two (often vastly differing) fanbases tend to clash, which results in endless discussions of hypothetical fight scenarios and unnecessary insults towards the fighters who are stepping into the ring or cage for our entertainment.
When fans are becoming so frustrated with the direction of the UFC that they are turning to other promotions instead, or, even worse, turning to other sports (such as boxing) altogether, there are clearly problems in MMA that do need to be addressed.
Until promotions begin to truly listen to their fans rather than showcasing fights or events solely for their own personal interests, and until athletic commissions begin to accept the serious nature of the problems with the scoring/officiating system that is currently in place, we are merely making it easier for MMA?s detractors to try to tear down the sport.
As most fans would attest, mixed martial arts is the greatest sport in the world and it is about time that supporters of MMA have their voices heard before the ongoing controversy ruins what the last five years have accomplished.