MMA News

Monday, 05/21/2012, 10:00 am

The Changing Landscape for Foreign Fighters | MMA NEWS

By Oliver Insixiengmay:
Chants of “Zombie, zombie, zombie” erupted from the crowd and surrounded the octagon during Chan Sung Jung’s encounter with Dustin Poirier. Chan Sung Jung, more familiarly and popularly known under the moniker “The Korean Zombie,” has garnered a remarkable amount of popularity over the past year. This can be accredited to his exciting fight style which is a symphony of great technique, complimented with an unrelenting aggression. He takes many risks, continuously pushes forward, and is always looking for the finish. Because of this, his fights end up being very high paced and frenetically action packed. His victory over Poirier served as another example of this as he walked away with Fight of the Night honors and sparked debate over another potential Fight of the Year. To oversimplify it, Jung swings for the fences and fights with a complete disregard for his own safety, and that is something fans have come to respect and appreciate.

While the chants of “Zombie” reflect Jung’s rising popularity, it also carries broader implications in regards to the changing landscape of mixed martial arts for foreign and international fighters. The chants in support of the Korean Zombie provide commentary on the growing acceptance of foreign fighters in the mixed martial arts community, in particular America’s. It is not uncommon for foreign fighters to be greeted with chants of “USA” when paired against an American fighter. While there is nothing wrong with the vocalization of patriotism and being prideful, it does expose the bias held by fans against foreign fighters and often seems inappropriate in regards to the context of the fight occurring. While some fighters do carry the national pride of representing their country, what seems more sensible to be noted and appreciated is the courage of the fighters that step into the octagon, the brilliant techniques being showcased, and the merits of the fight and individual fighters.

The sport of mixed martial arts is very pluralistic sport that encompasses traditions and techniques from all across the globe. That is one of the beautiful assets of the sport. It has roots that are implanted all over the face of the planet and consequentially, has competitors and practitioners from a large and diverse field of avenues.

This American bias, however, acts as an obstacle that impedes the growth of foreign fighters hoping to enter the scene. The marketability of foreign fighters from lesser known regions proves to be more difficult and is impacting on the expansion of mixed martial arts within their individual countries. While countries such as Brazil have already established themselves as a hotbed for mixed martial arts through their large number of successful fighters, developing nations in the sport such as South Korea, China, and Afghanistan still struggle to cement their place in the mixed martial arts world. While open mindedness exists within the American audience, these struggles are inevitably exacerbated by the unwelcoming portion of the American audience that continue to chant “USA” against any non-American fighter.

That is why the chants of “Zombie” in his match with the American Poirier prove to be significant, granted, chants of “USA” still rained down against him but not in equivalent size. These chants for Jung were significant because they mark the growing acceptance and support of foreign fighters and display The Korean Zombie breaking the barriers of race. Instead of being cheered against for his nationality, the audience saw him as a fighter and vocalized their appreciation for his aggressive fighting spirit. This has heavy implications for other foreign fighters and demonstrates mixed martial art’s growing landscape and transformation into a more diverse and welcoming audience. Additionally, perhaps the chants given to Jung by the American audience will inspire and invite more international fighters to enter the scene.



36 Responses to “The Changing Landscape for Foreign Fighters | MMA NEWS”

  1. beag says:

    “the growing acceptance of foreigners in mixed martial arts….”
    Dude what the f*ck is it with americans and how yous actually believe that yous own/start/create everything.

    Not a single component of MMA was truly created in the US of A.
    And please dont jump up and say ”oh oh wrestling’s american. no. its not”

    MMA has been the worlds gift to itself. And the word Mixed should be the best indicator to fascist, nation huggers to get the boat.

    • beag says:

      i should include…good article….any americans who find all this hard to comprehend should check out an international UFC event.
      International meaning outside the USA

    • James Troy says:

      americans never claim to own or have started MMA. duno where your ignorant mind got that idea. its that they are less likely to blindly root for the american just because hes american. but that has nothign to do with all americans. the article should read “new casual fans are becoming more acceptant.”

      any true american MAM fan that has been watchin for years doesnt just cheer for americans. only the newbies that started watching recently do that because they dont know better. it hasnothign to do with who started the sport or whatever.

  2. MONKS og says:

    nice read man.the ZOMBIE is an animal and fight fanz around the world love to see these kinda fighters that give there all win or lose they come to bang it out not hump it out …epic fight

  3. Mike says:

    Well said son! USA been around for 250 years but apparently they invented martial arts 3000 years old! They are a clever lot!

    • Who said we invented martial arts? Chanting USA doesn’t mean shit but I’m proud of where I come from. Your just as bad as the people being pointed out in this article when you stereotype Americans in such a way.

  4. Clay says:

    Lol I would be jealous of the USA if I ddnt live here too. It’ll be ok you guys u can still beat us in soccer. So wipe the tears from your eyes, not all is lost.

    • US....DERP! says:

      typical American asshat. so oblivious of how shitty your country is. We’re not jealous of you, we pity you.

      • E says:

        youre acting like a bitch ass just like the person you pitty. worry about yourself.. just saying..

      • Clay says:

        And your the stereotypical foreigner hating on Americans for no reason. You think we are all the same and we are all full of ourselves like we “own and create everything” that’s bullshit. There are some great people that live everywhere in the world. An there are also jackasses that live everywhere. It doesn’t matter where u r from.

      • SemperFidelus says:

        You pity us? No sir, you all follow us. No matter where we go or what we do. Why? Because no one else has the balls to be a leader like my country. Bad choices or not, we stick by our decision. Well be glad to save your asses from ze Germans in WWIII

        • James says:

          I am from America and love America. Let’s be real though, in a WW3 scenario we most likely will be Germany.

  5. Clay says:

    I want a Korean zombie shirt

  6. Xaninho says:

    The USA chanters need to realize it’s not about nationalities. It’s not the American team against Brazil, Holland or Korea.

    It’s two individuals stepping into a cage to test themselves and their opponents. Two guys who just want to be the best of the world, regardless where they’re from.

  7. Jake says:

    “the growing acceptance of foreign fighters in the mixed martial arts community, in particular America’s”
    I don’t see how this is typical Americans thinking we own and create everything. UFC is the largest mixed martial arts promotion and is based in America. So fighters outside of America might feel uncomfortable about fighting in a US based fighting promotion. That’s what the article is saying.

    So while not a single component of mixed martial arts was created in America the current largest promotion is based in America so like it or not the US is going to be a big presence in MMA

    As for the USA chants I agree they shouldn’t be brought into a fight but to say it’s not about nationalities is ridiculous, a lot of fighters walk out with their countries flags. It’s called national pride and Americans aren’t the only ones who have it, we’re just louder.

    And personally I’m loving all the generalizations and hate towards america in the comments because of an article that one person wrote.

  8. mmaislandjunkie says:

    Solid read Oliver keep up the good work!

  9. It’s because the DC area is FILLED WITH KOREAN AMERICANS. I grew up in Annandale, it’s Korea Town, it’s one of the best audiences possible for Zombie.

    • was gonna say… it’s a nice piece of writing, to be sure, but it is based on a very likely false assumption that the ‘zombie’ chants came from “welcoming” and “accepting” american fans, not the huge korean contingent, including pilgrims from as far as canada…

      on a different note, i don’t think too many fighters are bothered by the ‘usa’ chanting – if anything, it’s extra motivation to show up the dumbasses in the audience. it also provides the extra satisfaction for the fans rooting for the foreign fighter whenever he takes the W… ‘all in the game’…

  10. A.James says:

    All audiences need to learn from a Japanese audience.

  11. Nick says:

    As an American I hated the “USA” chants during that fight. That was the dumbest shit. I mean I’m half Asian and half white, but chanting USA against a fighter who isn’t from America is fucking retarded. Like I was cheering for Jung because I love his style. There’s a bunch of instances where I cheer for the dude who isn’t American. I hate the USA chants. I wish every crowd was like the Japanese crowds. They make every other fans seem like barbarians.

  12. TKRelz says:

    Brazilians are THE WORST they take nationalism higher then we do (when it comes to MMA) but honestly Aldo Coke winner vs KZ in Seoul South Korea 2013 with Bendo on the co main feature (if he retains the belt or not)

  13. TKRelz says:

    Brazilians are THE WORST they take nationalism higher then we do (when it comes to MMA) but honestly Aldo Coke winner vs KZ in Seoul South Korea 2013 with Bendo on the co main feature (if he retains the belt or not)

  14. Truestpolak says:

    wow some of these posts rly I’m a foreigner in USA and I have to say MMA is not American even though it has bin made very popular because of the UFC which is an American federation which was made popular by a foreign GUY Royce Gracie <— BrAzILiAn but non the less y does it matter if the fighter is American or not enjoy the fights for the art and skill displayed and leave all the other bullshit aside seriously

  15. I blame Dana for the whole US vs. the UK ultimate fighter.

  16. Amarob says:

    There are times when the situation calls for a bit a patriotism and I’m proud of where I am from so “USA” might leave my mouth but Uhhhh I was definitely all about “ZOMBIE” during that fight :)

    But let me catch an U.S. Guy at tge IBJJF and it’s “USA” all day

  17. Frank E. says:

    Great job Oliver, great article.

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