It seems like I’ve traveled this road before. Yet, here I am again,espousing logic that appears to be falling upon deaf ears of those who need to listen. Actually, this time I’m not asking that decision-makers listen, I’m moved to … dare I say it … okay, I’m begging ya.
A year or two ago I penned a column passionately ripping the practice of using guys who haven’t cut their teeth in MMA on a big stage showcase. It was based largely upon that rat of all sports rats, Jose Canseco. Part of it was my personal take. Where I’m from in Jersey and New York City, the last thing you ever consider in life is being a rat.
But the other aspect of my passionate plea was the fact that he was using the world of MMA to make a quick buck and then proceeded to predictably make a mockery of his fight.
In that same column, I also took issue with Gary Shaw for putting the fortunes of an entire promotion in the hands of a street fighter with a suspect chin. Once Kimbo lost, so did many other fighters who were relying on money from a narcissistic snake oil salesman like Shaw.
My point of that column was this: We have come way too far to sell the likes of fights by Canseco or Johnnie Morton or anyone else who doesn’t deserve the right to be showcased in anything other than a smoker or a small promotion.
Have we learned nothing? Apparently not.
So, I’ll say it again. We have come far enough. For crying out loud, WE DO NOT NEED spectacles to get attention! We’re the popular kid in class, not the kid screaming to be noticed.
So why is it that 18 months later we are still hearing and reading about that freak-show rat Canseco talking about taking a fight in Strikeforce? And why would Strikeforce ever so much as entertain the thought. Our fighters are everything Canseco is not. Tough, honorable … and, oh yeah, they don’t cheat and exploit every system they can.
We are not a damn VH1 reality show. We shouldn’t be used as Celebrity Rehab for Douchebags. We don’t need it. Give the money you would delegate for Canseco to a fighter who has earned the honor of a high-profile fight.
I love Scott Coker, and I’ve talked to him about this. I had a similar conversation after the Herschel Walker fight. Coker is great for this sport. He forms a family atmosphere for his organization. He is as standup a guy as I’ve met in this arena. I certainly appreciated the fact that we remained close after I ripped his Walker fight. I didn’t have a problem with Walker fighting. I admired him for it and, even more so, admired the ridiculous shape he entered the cage in.
My issue stemmed from his opponent. They should have put him in against a guy who was above the level of Daniel Larusso from The Karate Kid. Walker dominated a guy who never should have been in there, and—in my opinion—that disrespects how difficult this sport really is.
I have zero problems with a guy who wants to cut his teeth the right way. I do, however, have a major problem with cutting corners and giving a guy undeserved MMA attention. Our sport is hard and should never, ever be perceived as something where someone can just come right out of the crowd and be a “fighter.”
That brings me to James Toney. I love the dude and worked with him for a few years at FSN in our Best Damn Fight Nights. But Toney is a guy who jumped to our sport because he was done in his. I am truly hoping that Dana White and Joe Silva put him against a “real” MMA fighter, not a patsy who would surely walk into a barrage of Toney’s fists.That disrespects the sport.
Randy Couture told me this week that he really, really wants Toney and would move back to heavyweight to get him. Randy gets what I’m saying. Our sport is the hardest thing in the world to do, not a haven for guys who can’t make it in boxing anymore.
This all brings me back to my original point: Our high-profile cards should be reserved for those who are our true, hard-training, grizzled MMA fighters. The money and profile should be for those who have earned that right, not castoffs or circus freaks.
We don’t need sideshows. All we need is to continue to do what has made us the rage in this country. All we need are guys who work their asses off and show the world this sport is only for the toughest of the tough, the greatest warriors on the planet … not sideshows. Although, come to think of it now, I wouldn’t mind seeing Toney beat the dog piss out of Canseco.