With all the hype surrounding fighters like Conor McGregor, it can be incredibly easy to become caught up in their antics of trash talk and disrespect. Fighters like McGregor have made a killing off of their actions and it has changed the entire landscape of martial arts.
This is not to say that there was no trash talking before McGregor, or disrespect of opponents inside and outside of the ring, but there’s been an evolution. It’s become the driving force behind what is selling pay-per-views and what is drawing fans into the action.Throwing water bottles at an opponent and trashing them publicly at press conferences or on live television is all just an act. That act, however, could potentially be causing irreparable damage to the sport.
Look, for example, at the build up behind the big fight between Dominic Cruz and Cody Garbrandt. Although the general disdain for each other may be there, the UFC promoted it on purpose by putting them in situations where insults were bound to fly. Why, you may ask? To advertise and sell the fight.
Although these men and women may step into the octagon to physically battle one another, we cannot forget what the entire sport it is based off of: respect. One of the fundamental aspects that laid the ground floor for martial arts to be built upon was respect. Respect for oneself, one’s training partners, one’s coaches, and the sport. All of the trash talking and disrespecting of opponents not only veers away from the what the sport is based on, but it also cheapens it’s worth.
Sara McMann, a bantamweight fighter for the UFC, recently posted a powerful image on Instagram. The image was from after her fight on Feb. 19 against Gina Mazany. The photo shows McMann bracing Mazany’s face after the fight had been called to a stop. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, the caption she posted along with the photo added context.
This is one of my new favorite pics!! I respect every one of my opponents. Before I fight, I pray for my own safety but I also pray for theirs. This is a competition and I am a fierce competitor, but at the end of the day I am a human. I never want to do irreparable damage to anyone, either physically or mentally. This is the true goal of sports and I will always respect those who have the courage to go in front of millions and test themselves. #ufc #ufchalifax #sportsmanship #revolutionmma #allianceofgreenville
McMann’s post embodies what most fighters actually feel and act. A side that gets little to no publicity because it isn’t what is going to sell pay-per-views and bring in new fans. Although posts like McMann’s often go under the radar, maybe if more fighters spread this kind of message, it would help bring the fundamental aspect of respect back to a more prominent place in the sport.
Instead of showing kids, who admire and look up to these athletes, that trash talking is okay and setting a bad example, they should show the actual positive aspects of the sport. That no matter what, it is still a competition, but you can approach the situation with grace and respect. Sport fighting, by nature, may cause harm to one or both parties involved. Though, as McMann outlined in her post, it is important to remember both people are humans that are deserving of respect, and the end goal should never be to cause irreparable damage to either someone’s physical or mental ability.