If you’ve visited MMA Chronicle over the past few months, you’ll notice that the site has recently undergone an overhaul. I sat down at the computer tonight to attempt to write a heartfelt article explaining why I had decided to change formats for MMA Chronicle, converting it from a news site to a blog, especially so soon after it relaunched at Christmas. I realized that the format change is really about me personally and what my goals are in writing about mixed martial arts.
I write about MMA because I enjoy it. I enjoy watching it, but I might even enjoy analyzing it, dissecting it, writing about it even more. I had stopped writing about this stuff for a few years because it stopped being fun. Up until mid 2006 I was writing for MaxFighting.com (which I guess is long dead now). That site was originally owned by Bruce Buffer, but he sold it to mma.tv. I left after they changed the site in ways that I thought sucked.
At that point I decided to quit writing MMA altogether. It stopped being fun. I was actually making money at it at that point and my book was moderately successful for what it was. I definitely had no problem getting paid to watch UFC or Pride or whatever, because I would have done it for free anyway. Well, up to a point. When it started to feel like work, I didn’t want anything to do with it and I quit in 2006, when the sport was probably at the height of its popularity. Probably not the best idea for my so-called MMA writing career, but at least I can never be accused of being a bandwagon jumper since I jumped off when everybody else was jumping on.
And then I jumped back on a few months ago. I’m not sure why I started writing again. I always intended to at some point even if I was insisting I didn’t. It just had been so many years. I had thought about returning off and on for ages, although I had considered writing about pro wrestling exclusively, or doing a mix of wrestling and MMA. To me, pro wrestling and mixed martial arts are the same thing. Yes, one is staged and the other is (mostly) real. But these guys wrestle for a living. They get paid to wrestle. They are pro wrestlers. To paraphrase the late, great George Carlin, let’s all use the language we’ve agreed upon here.
But I decided to write MMA again. Best to stick to what you know, see. It’s weird, too, because I feel that after years of covering it, writing about it, studying it, developing a network of contacts in the sport and its industry, I had a lot to offer, even though I hadn’t bothered to offer anything in a long time. I know its history better than all but a handful of people, mainly because I’ve been so close to the sport during many of its crucial moments. And writing a book about the history of UFC fighters certainly helps with the history stuff. I know the business, because I was always interested in its industry. I know the sport because, well, I’m a fan.
And I’m a student, too. I enjoy studying it. When I used to write for Maxfighting, I would get hate email from people accusing me of just being some guy behind a computer and that I have no clue what I’m talking about and thus no one should pay attention to me. You know what the difference is, the real difference? A fan is someone who watches a few pay per views, if that, or scopes out UFC or Bellator fights on TV. They know the stars. They know the names of some of the submission holds. But they’re just fans. These fans would become fans of something else if UFC fell off the face of the Earth tomorrow. After all, what were all these people fans of back when no one was watching UFC before The Ultimate Fighter debuted?
I’m a fan. And no shit, I am just a guy behind a computer. But I’m also a student, and that’s the difference. I’m interested in the business and feel that someone cannot possibly understand the decisions that promoters make without understanding how the business operates. And I study fight history. I believe that it is impossible to understand why something is happening if you don’t know what happened before. If you understand the history of a topic, you can make up your own mind about what is happening now. If you know the history of the sport and its industry, you can make up your own mind about what is going on now, be it TRT, or international expansion of UFC, or digital distribution, or whatever. Orwell was right when he said who controls the past controls the future. But you can’t control the past if you don’t understand. And I’m not even interested in control; just knowledge.
I’m not an expert. I’m a student. There have been times where I’ve written something I thought was excellent and I knew for a fact that practically no one read it. It didn’t matter. I don’t write about this for you. I write about this for me. If I cared about money, or popularity, or ego, I would have sent my resume to all the millions of different MMA news web sites that suddenly popped up back in 2006. That’s almost nothing to me.
What I care about is my personal joy. I care about the satisfaction I get from studying something I like. Satisfying the reader doesn’t do a lot for me if it doesn’t satisfy me first, that is, unless, you want to paypal me some cash.
So, the site’s format change: I hate writing news. There’s that awful veneer of journalism when it comes to news writing where I’m not quite saying what I want to say while I’m reporting on whatever topic. I’m even not quite saying what I want to say now, just hoping you’ll fill in the blanks and catch my meaning. But when it comes to simply reporting on the news, I rarely get a chance to break through the veneer and say what I’m truly thinking. Plus, there are like a hundred million MMA news sites; only about two or three of them are any good. I don’t need to throw another corpse into that pile of rubbish.
A blog is perfect. It’s a mouthpiece, a platform, a soapbox. I get to enjoy what I write and write what I enjoy. That is it. I hated writing a news site, but I love to write about MMA. My preference is, and always will be, to write in print, because I think my style of writing is easier to read on the printed page than on a computer screen. Maybe our culture is rapidly coming to the point where no one will read on paper at all. The trees will thank us, but there’s a certain quality of writing in print that doesn’t exist online. I don’t know if Orwell would have figured out who controls the past controls the future if he had published 1984 as an ebook. And could you imagine reading Tolstoy on a laptop? Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I hope you’re filling in the blanks and catching my meaning.
Anyway, this blog certainly isn’t Orwell or Tolstoy. It isn’t a news site or a print publication. It’s a blog. My blog. I’ve written about MMA for many, many years. Not as long as some, but longer than most. My goal is to write about its industry and history, and whatever else I fancy. I have a firm grasp on what MMA is and what it ought to be. If you’re interested in what that is, you’re interested in reading my site. And if not, exit through the gift shop.