One of the biggest and most frustrating misconceptions about MMA is that it’s nothing more than two combatants beating each other to a pulp in front of a crowd of drunken hillbillies on a Saturday night. As both a media member and martial artist, that is something that I hear almost on a daily basis from people who don’t understand and refuse to take the time to educate themselves on this great sport.
The truth is, there is no other sport on the planet that has as many good people involved in it than MMA. I’m not going to sit here and say that every MMA fighter is a true martial artist that lives by the traditional principles of honor and respect. That would be a lie. You’re going to have a few bad apples in every bunch but the majority of athletes competing in this sport are the type of role models you’d want your children to look up to.
While NBA players are making inappropriate comments about other players wives and cereal brands, champion MMA fighters are privately bowing to their opponents backstage after dominating them in a world title fight for five rounds. That is something that you simply will not see or hear about in any other sport in the world.
Recently on BJPenn.com Radio, we spoke with Alchemist Management President Lex McMahon. McMahon represents some of the best fighters in MMA today including Rory McDonald, Gegard Mousasi, Mike Ricci and Nate Marquardt. Last week, Marquardt was defeated by Tarec Saffiedine in the main event of Strikeforce’s very last show. A heavy favorite leading into the fight, Marquardt was thoroughly dominated by Saffiedine and lost both a unanimous decision and his Strikeforce welterweight championship.
It was a very impressive victory for Saffiedine but it was what he did off camera that was perhaps even more impressive.
“I want to give you a little bit of an insight to the character of Tarec Saffiedine. After the fight, Nate and Tarec had a bit of an exchange where Tarec said whatever he had to say and they had a private conversation in the cage,” McMahon told BJPenn.com Radio.
“Nate had to receive medical attention in the dressing room and he was laying down on the floor keeping his leg elevated because he couldn’t walk. I was outside communicating with the Strikeforce PR team trying to figure out the logistics of getting Nate to the press conference because he honestly couldn’t walk.”
Marquardt’s leg was in severe pain from the brutal kicks of Saffiedine. Marquardt simply had no answer for Saffiedine’s Muay Thai offense but he still manged to push on for five rounds where other fighters might have broke.
“As I was outside talking to the PR people, Tarec came up to me and said ‘hey Lex, can I talk to Nate?’ I poked my head in and told Nate that Tarec would like to talk to him and Nate told me to bring him in. Tarec now obviously has the belt, he’s got it on his shoulder but he’s such a classy athlete and a person that he didn’t walk into Nate’s dressing room with the belt,” McMahon said.
“He put the belt down just outside of Nate’s door out of his eyesight, he walked in, bowed down, grabbed Nate’s hand and said some very complimentary things and called Nate a great champion. I just thought that personified who Tarec Saffiedine is as a person and what’s best about mixed martial arts. Hats off to Tarec Saffiedine, he’s a great fighter and he earned that belt.”
It’s stories like this that remind me why I love covering MMA and why I will do anything to promote the good people in this sport. Whether people want to admit it or not, the best MMA fighters in the world are the ones who embrace the traditional values of martial arts.
Look at every great UFC champion of the past and present from guys like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and BJ Penn to todays warriors in Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. They all have one thing in common, they’re all martial artists above all else.