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Friday, 12/07/2012, 09:07 pm

The Trials and Tribulations of an MMA Fan

 

The buildup to tomorrow night’s UFC event has been incredible, it has been a painstaking process, but all of the hard work will culminate at The Key Arena in Seattle, WA at 8pm eastern. For the fighters and their camps all of the long hours working in the gym will be put to the test when that cage door slams shut. For the managers and public relations personnel they can sit back and relax for a few hours knowing that once the fights are over their jobs will start right back up.

For the fans the build-is different, but can be extremely intense. Unlike a professional baseball or basketball team, fans can not watch their favorite athletes in action on a nightly basis for months at a time. At most fans can watch their fighters compete four, maybe five times in any given year. For example, if a fighter is not a champion, has four fights in a calendar year, the maximum time they could spend in the Octagon is sixty minutes. Just one hour! While that may not be enough for some fans it is for the true fans who live, breathe and eat mixed martial arts.

Knowing the time is limited allows fans to appreciate each occasion their fighter is in action. Whether it’s 15 seconds or 25 minutes they will sit on the edge of their seat barely blinking an eye. From the moment the music hits and their fighter begins the long, slow walk to the Octagon, MMA fans have cleared their minds of any distractions. Problems at work are put on hold, arguments with a friend get pushed to the side, because now is the time.

Fans will sit at their computer reading interviews, news reports and looking for rumors. There is a lot of time to kill in between fights and if you can’t watch your fighter perform then you can visit their personal website, check out their Facebook or follow them on Twitter. The accessibility MMA fans have to these athletes is unrivaled by any other sport. That accessibility is what helps fans get through the weeks of waiting while their guy trains and prepares for his next fight.

Tomorrow night one of the most popular and successful fighters in the history of MMA will fight for the first time in over 13 months. One of only two men to wear titles in two different weight classes, BJ Penn will face welterweight sensation Rory MacDonald on the main card of UFC on Fox 5. Judging by the passion of Penn’s fans, his return is being met with great anticipation. During today’s weigh-ins, Penn received the loudest ovation of any of the 20+ fighters who will compete tomorrow night.

After his last fight Penn left his fans in limbo by declaring that he was retiring, but most knew that it was a decision made at an emotional time. Any fighter will tell you that they feel it is necessary to take some time after the fight before making any major decisions. It didn’t take all that long before there were rumors on the internet regarding Penn’s return to action. After turning down a few other opportunities Penn accepted the challenge from MacDonald and they will see who the better man is tomorrow.

To be a BJ Penn fan it takes a special individual, you have to be dedicated, patient and you have to have thick skin. Because of Penn’s success and some of his failures he is an easy target for critics and people who love to stir the pot. You have to be devoted because you never know if this fight is going to be his last. Even if he wins tomorrow there are no guarantees when or if he will fight again. You just have to go with the flow.

Baseball fans don’t have to worry about the Yankees taking time off or shutting down their operations, it will never happen. MMA fans go through a lot of trials and tribulations, highs and lows, peaks and valleys, more so than any fan of any other sport. Football fans can have their favorite player, but if he goes down, the team will still compete. In MMA, there is no team to carry the load, if your fighter is done, then he’s done, call it a night.

MMA fans have to take the good with the bad, they have access to fighters on-line, at expos and sometimes even at their gym, but they also go to bed every night knowing they may have watched their icon fight for the last time. To be an MMA fan it takes a special person and if you are one of those fine people then you will know exactly I am talking about.

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