The flyweight title fight between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrius Johnson at UFC 152 was an incredible back-and-forth affair featuring blazing speed and tactical savvy. For some reason, however, some attendees at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto were not impressed, booing the affair.
During an interview with MMAjunkie after the event, UFC president Dana White decided he had had enough. If you did not like the fight between Benavidez and Johnson, he said,
“Don’t ever buy another one. I don’t want your money. You’re a moron, you don’t like fighting, you don’t appreciate great talent, or heart, if you didn’t like that flyweight fight.”
This weekend puts into stark relief the fact that the average casual UFC fan still lacks a significant level of appreciation for the technical skill required to be a high-level mixed martial artist. Certainly, the fans have become at least somewhat more educated than they were in the UFC’s early days, when any takedown or ground fighting at all was greeted with a chorus of boos.
However, many fans still seem to think that any bout that does not feature two fighters planting their feet, standing still in front of one another and slinging haymakers until one falls is boring. For example, the fight at UFC 143 between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit saw Condit use a varied standup arsenal to repeatedly pick the dangerous Diaz apart, then circle out of danger before Diaz could counter.
To educated students of martial arts, the fight was extremely exciting. Unfortunately, not all of the UFC’s viewers fall into that category. The even more glaring example of fan ignorance in the Benavidez-Johnson bout simply highlights the fact that, as the UFC continues to attract new fans, it will need to find ways to actually educate them about the sport.