Wednesday night were the MMA Awards and the sport is still very young. And it's . . . slightly disturbing seeing how some things play out. Like the MMA Awards. In particular, it really reminds me that a sport shouldn't develop in Las Vegas.
Have no doubt, Las Vegas is the American heart of MMA. If you see two MMA guys fighting and one of them is from Las Vegas and the other is from somewhere else, bet on the Las Vegas guy. When the UFC was about to go down, some casino guys -- Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta -- bought the UFC (an opportunity opened by now-UFC president Dana White). Vegas is a fight town and has lots of good venues for those kinds of fights. So the fighters tended to set up shop in Vegas, which brought more fighters to Vegas . . . so Vegas is an MMA town. In America, it's the MMA town.
But it's still Vegas and . . . fuckin' Vegas sucks. It sucks all the joy out of everything and replaces it a glitz covered demon-cock version of everything you love. And in the US, the UFC, an extremely Las Vegas organization, full of Las Vegas "values", can call the shots. It is easily the biggest, most influential, richest MMA promotion in the world. Even in other MMA countries, like Brazil and Japan, they've got nothing to match the UFC. And the World MMA Awards are a Las Vegas event.
Which brings us back to the MMA Awards. It makes sense to award people in this kind of competitive field. An awarding body makes sense. But Las Vegas sucks the joy out of it and replaces it with glittering demon spunk all over everything. Here are the awards and winners.
Some of them are necessary. Best fight, best submission, best KO, best breakthrough fighter, sure, all of this is legitimate and the awards would be meaningless without those kinds of categories.
But . . . there's a category for best "lifestyle clothing brand"? Really? What the FUCK? A category for . . . the fuckin' ring girls?! "Leading Man of the Year"? What does that even mean?
And that "Charles 'Mask' Lewis Fighter of the Year" . . . you might wonder who is Charles "Mask" Lewis. Some great promoter or fighter or legacy figure in MMA? No. He's the guy who started the "TapouT" line of clothing. That's it. He made a bunch of T-shirts. And then he died in a car wreck. So, for the title of best fighter of the year, a title very deservingly going to the incredible Jose Aldo, is named after a t-shirt shill. Not a great martial artist. Not a great coach. The dude who makes the t-shirts.
This is Las Vegas. Where awards of great fighters like Cris Cyborg and Jose Aldo go hand in hand with who-gives-a-shit awards like "Best Lifestyle Clothing Brand" and "Ring Girl of the Year". And because MMA is such a Las Vegas operation, they don't even see how this hurts the sport -- how people who are having trouble taking MMA seriously, thinking it a kind of spectacle or a fad, look at things like this and go, "See? You don't see football awards going to best cheerleader." You don't. Because no one fucking cares who has the best cheerleaders. No one cares what "lifestyle clothing" gets advertised. But Las Vegas guys don't think twice about turning what should be an event entirely to do with the fighters, coaches, corner guys, refs, the people who are utterly indispensable to the sport and instead the whore it up by putting pin-up models and sweatshop shills into the mix. They don't even see why that kind of pandering makes people grit their teeth or laugh about that silly little fad sport that'll soon go the way of the hula hoop.
MMA is definitely suffering some growing pains. Stuff like this is part of it, I suppose, though stuff like this makes me doubt if the kid is going to ever reach adulthood. Perhaps I'll start writing on what it'll take to bring actual dignity to MMA as a sport.