Hey juice heads, you’re killing us. Killing us!
Finally, the world of MMA had reached such mainstream levels that to call it a fad is a spit in the face. Ignorance has been replaced by education. The image of brutal savagery now overtaken by a violent ballet of skill. But as we gain acceptance, and more fi ghters begin to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, more begin to be busted for cheating, hoping to capitalize the wrong way. Since when is it cool to be like Barry Bonds?
We were right there, guys. Hasn’t our sport taken enough black eyes over the years? We fought John McCain selling his label of human cockfi ghting to the world. We’ve survived sparse, immature, and violent crowds, banishment from cable TV, and suspensions from multiple states. But…and this is big…we survived. That light at the end of the tunnel isn’t New Jersey, it’s the mainstream.
When the legendary Brett Favre reaches out and asks his sports hero, UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture, to address his team at the legendary Lambeau in December, this sport has offi cially reached mainstream status.
I mean, it’s Brett Favre for goodness sakes, people. And he sat in awe of Couture the same way youngsters donning cheeseheads sit with their mouths agape at Favre. We’re not going mainstream anymore. We’re there.
But just as we’re getting to a great thing, champions get busted for drugs like Nandrolone. Legends get hit for metabolytes of anabolic steroids. Leave that to baseball, please. Don’t screw it up for the guys who’ve dropped their blood on the mat to build a bright future for the sport, and the fi ghters.
We want the people learning about MMA to fl ock to it, not scoff at us like we’re the damn Mitchell report targets. Flocking, good. Scoffi ng, bad.
We were doing so well for a while. All we needed was to continue to Liddell punch and Rampage slam our way into the hearts of sports fans of all ages and incomes. It’s like was someone sitting in a cornfi eld and suddenly a voice heard a voice, “If you kick them, they will come!”
And come they have in the last couple of years, by the tens of thousands, packing arenas from Cali to Columbus, London to Las Vegas. Month after month, fi rst PRIDE and then the UFC sold out arena after arena. Boxing? Sure, they get their buys for their crown jewel fi ghts…once a year!
For those fans of the Marquis of Queensbury Rules, John L. Sullivan is long gone. The grace and class of the kings of the sport have disappeared. Ali, Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, gone, gone, gone.
Couture, Liddell, Jackson, Fedor, and Silva have pushed their way through the threshold of freak show, hung a sharp left past fad, and are now coming full throttle to a television near you! MMA is today, now, here, and here to stay…as long as the combatants who are building it don’t tear it down with a drug test.
Week by week, our fi ghters began to show up on billboards across Times Square and Sunset Boulevard, celebs began to pour in, and sponsors were upgraded from Harvey’s Hardware to Pepsi and Hummer.
All I’m asking is that we don’t screw it up. Don’t stick stuff in your body that doesn’t belong. If you can’t beat the guy across from you, and you feel like cheating is your only option, quit and go be a bouncer somewhere. Go and juice to your heart’s delight while you guard that oh so precious velvet rope. Just do it away from the cage, away from the sport. Go back to college, or TRAIN HARDER! Wow, how’s that for a brainstorm. We don’t need the drug tests to have as much anticipation as the fi ghts themselves.
The sport still has a heck of a battle ahead, until the time fi ghters can use the sport to support their kids and grandkids the way other athletes can. It’s beginning to approach that level, but it could slip away with the poke of a few more needles. For the sake of the sport, please, let it grow… naturally that is.