Writer Dave Begel Exposes the Denial and Ignorance of MMA Fans

James Ryan


Feel free to agree or disagree with what writer Dave Begel has to say, but on his recent visit with Inside MMA Live with hosts Bas Rutten and Kenny Rice, he had several very specific and valid points to make about the sport of MMA, particularly about what he believes is a blatant exploitation of women and what he feels is the basic, primal motivator for a fan-base that watches a violent sport such as mixed martial arts.

Here’s the 5-minute video, which is essentially 3-minutes of floundering debate by the hosts, and then another 2-minutes of desperate ridicule and disrespect. Kinda reminds me of the old Simpson’s episode where Grandpa starts telling a story and then the kids all say, “Hey everyone! Look! An old man is talking!” as they start to gather around, and sit and stare in total amazement. The joke of course being that no one of age or experience could possibly have anything of insight or intelligence to share with a much younger, know-it-all population. Enjoy the arrogance:

For starters, let’s address Dave’s assertion that mixed martial arts is not a sport. This is not a new observation by any stretch of the imagination.

Dave Begel: “[MMA] is a disgusting, barbaric entertainment event. I can’t even call it a sport. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that people do this and pay money to watch this kind of crap.”

I think what most loyal MMA fans are the most butt-hurt about (they tend to get that way when you criticize their “precious”), is that Dave uses words like “barbaric” and “disgusting” when he describes MMA. It’s insulting – yes, but is he wrong? Is it not barbaric violence? Is it not well-known that this is a sport that appeals (for very good reason) to the minority and not to the majority? So what’s the real issue then? MMA fans are a very sensitive people who tend to feel slighted and disrespected rather easily, so their automatic response is always going to be full-blown defensiveness, denial and aggression. I call this the “Cry-baby Syndrome.”

I absolutely agree with Dave that the UFC (not MMA) is less of an actual “sport” and more of an entertainment-based sporting event (not unlike pro wrestling), and if you don’t believe me, then just take a look at how they set up their fights. It’s not a system of ranking and fairness and who-beat-who, but more of a system of fan popularity, ratings and marketability (personality). Sorry, but that’s not a legitimate sport.

I’d also like to change a bit of the context if I could…

Instead of referring to mixed martial arts as a whole, if you consider that this guy probably doesn’t see or understand a major difference between MMA as a sport, and the UFC as a promotion, which is the promotion that he was referring to in his original article, then he’s not entirely off-base with his comments. And who’s fault is that? Are we all suddenly under the impression that the UFC and Dana White are the best ambassadors for this sport, particularly towards a demographic such as the one that this writer and the MAJORITY of people who don’t like the antics and bullshit that go along with the world’s largest and most influential MMA promotion, happen to be in? There are many reasons why the best fans in this sport can’t stand Dana White (he’s a proven liar for one) and why disliking the WWE-circus that is currently known as the UFC has absolutely nothing to do with liking or disliking MMA as a whole.

I’d like to think that if any promotion could change this writer’s mind about the sport (and about being a sport), it would be the Bellator Fighting Championships. At least they make an honest effort by way of a tournament-style to add a badly needed component that the UFC so ignorantly and selfishly overlooks – fairness.

This was a brutal interview in my opinion, and anyone who thinks that Dave is automatically wrong simply because they don’t agree with his contempt for the culture of MMA, which for the most part is justified, really needs to “empty their cup” and watch it again. This is typical, unbiased MMA journalism – if you can even call it “journalism.”

Dave Begel: “[MMA] plays into the fantasy of lots and lots of men.” TRUE. To the average ignorant fan, MMA is fantasy role-playing – one that they long to live vicariously through because that way, others can take the risk that they’re not willing to take themselves.

Click here to read: Concussions in Sports and the Scabs who Love Them

Dave Begel: “MMA is designed to hurt somebody.” TRUE. The goal in any other major sport is to out-score your opponent. In MMA, it’s to win by knockout or submission. MMA fans hate it when a fight gets decided by going to the judge’s scorecards. They also love the sight of blood – try denying it.

Bas Rutten: “There are rules. It’s not violence.” I mean seriously, does anyone (including Bas) actually believe this? Football is violent. Hockey is violent. Boxing is violent. And MMA sure as hell is violent. I think downplaying the violent aspect of this sport has become such an agenda in gathering mainstream acceptance, that the MMA media has actually started to brainwash itself into believing it to be true. It’s not true. FALSE.

Dave Begel: “Everybody is a world hero.” TRUE. My book Desolate Warrior is the perfect example to demonstrate why sports fans have become overly consumed and manipulated by celebrity hero worship. From a psychological standpoint, this is a social trend that is definitely plaguing our society.

Dave Begel: “MMA clearly appeals to the basic instincts in people – the voyeuristic violence. That’s how you guys make your money.” TRUE and TRUE. Absolutely true! The primary motivation for the development and promotion of MMA is to make money. Period. This is not a charity and Dana White is most definitely not selflessly volunteering his time to help others. Love him or hate him – he’s a greedy pig.

Dave Begel: “MMA is a barbaric sport and having women do it is just as barbaric as having men do it.” TRUE. Inside MMA would have fans believe that this started as an issue of one writer believing that women should not participate in “men’s” sports – something that around the 3:22 mark, Dave completely denies. Again, I think the problem is with the use of the word “barbaric.” Personally, I don’t see it as a negative. It is barbaric. That’s why we watch it. Who’s in denial here? Because it sure isn’t me.

Dave Begel: “A lot of men have a lesbian fantasy.” FALSE. Not gay men. Maybe that’s why Kenny was having such a hard time relating to this. Seriously though…this is without a doubt TRUE. And all of you sick, perverted freaks out there know it! Two girls kissing? Oh the humanity! What’s this world coming to?!!

James Ryan: “There’s no sense denying our basic human instincts, because to do so, is to live in a world full of social and personal ignorance.” TRUE.

These are my opinions. If you don’t like them, I have others. Check them out at @coachjamesryan

James Ryan
James Ryan

SOttawa Senators' Dziurzynski lies on the ice as referee Cameron tends to him after he was hit in a fight with Toronto Maple Leafs' McLaren during their NHL hockey game in Toronto


  1. French-Canadian Boxing Fan

    As a big boxing fan for years, I have read and seen hatred for boxing on the internet for a long time.

    In the last 6 or 7 years, I have noticed that most of the “hardcore hatred” towards boxing came from the MMA crowd.

    I took it for many years without responding, like most level-headed boxing fans.

    Boxing has been criticized for a long time, long before MMA became big. Larry Merchant likes to say that “Boxing was born with a black eye”. Indeed, it was. Ugly scenes like the 1996 fight between Riddick Bowe and Andrew Golota come to mind.

    Boxing is violent, immoral, barbaric and there is corruption in the sport (though corruption is rampant in other sports and indeed in all of society these days) although I think it is still by-and-large a legitimate competition. And a fascinating one at that.

    I support boxing for its beauty, for its inspiring rags-to-riches stories, for its working-class heroes, for what I call the perfect mix between technique, skills, suspense, action, heart, determination. I idealize boxing and I make no apologies for it. I may sugarcoat it but that’s the way I feel about it.

    If someone says “Boxing is violent and has no place in a civilized society” I would agree in part. I can’t defend the violence in Boxing, it is there to see. It would be foolish on my part to claim that those who see violence in boxing are “ignorant.” Ignorant of what? They have eyes to see and boxing is a violent spectacle.

    What I can do is simply say that boxing has turned many young men away from a life of crime. That boxing has allowed a select few of these young men to make fortunes. That boxing is presented in a classy fashion and that its violence is not always its main selling point (although that’s debatable). After all, boxing events are not advertised in “blood splatter poster and words” that seem lifted from a Mortal Kombat video game (as we see in MMA).

    None of those things apply to the UFC. The UFC revels in its violence, trash and negativity. Like a pig rolling in the mud.
    I call the UFC the Ugly Fighting Cult. MMA fans are unlike any other fans out there, they are extremely whiny, over-sensitive and thuggish at the same time.

    MMA fans are like Jihadists, don’t you DARE criticize their religion or ELSE.

    MMA is a culture of violence, MMA fans have screen names like “Blood Bath Steve”, “Brainbasher”, “Face Cutter”, “Stabber”, “Psychokiller” etc…

    MMA culture has none of the ying and yang that boxing has. In Boxing, there is a balance between violence and civility. The same can’t be said for MMA and its culture generally speaking.

  2. MG

    “MMA clearly appeals to the basic instincts in people – the voyeuristic violence. That’s how you guys make your money.”

    I’m a follower of both MMA and boxing. But it’s hard to understand how Begel can relate the above quote to MMA and not also attribute it to boxing (which he claims to approve of). I think Begel is unable to shake off the ‘human cockfighting’ accusations that surrounded modern MMA in its infancy (and still do to some extent). Had he followed the sport’s recent evolution from the mid-90′s to the present day, he would see how much it has changed and that it has in fact, become a highly regulated and controlled sport. Yes it’s violent, not 100% safe and as fans, we enjoy this element. But it’s clearly not streetfighting. It’s a hard, dangerous and competitive sport but it’s a long way from being barbaric.

    “A lot of men have a lesbian fantasy.”

    So straight men can’t watch two women compete against each other in MMA, boxing, judo, taekwondo, muay-thai etc…without having secret sexual fantasies about it? Does Begel really honestly believe that? No doubt, some guys will get off on it but those same people probably get aroused when two women are walking together side-by-side down the street. You can’t blame MMA for triggering what’s already there in somebody’s head.

    In regards to the comment above, it’s clear that there’s still a problem in North America in relation to MMA fans and boxing fans. MMA is not a culture of violence any more than any other combat sport. Don’t make those hardcore skinhead metal-loving UFC fans into a stereotype. Try watching a UFC event and have a good look when the camera sweeps through the crowd. It looks just like a boxing crowd. It seems like its almost unacceptable for many people to like both sports. Here in Europe, it’s a little more tolerant but there are also definitely hardcore boxing fans who don’t get MMA. Boxing is a great sport – personally I absolutely love it and boxing has ruled combat sports in the western world for many years. However, a little competition in the form of MMA is good for both sports. The less fragmented nature of MMA makes it at this moment in time, a more fan-friendly sport. Boxing can learn from this and hopefully improve. Likewise, MMA can learn a lot from boxing which has survived through many a rough patch.

    Modern MMA is a new sport. People might not like it but a lot of its continued criticism comes from people who know very little about it. Begel is one of these. To claim that Bas Rutten invented the liver shot only goes to show his ignorance about MMA and combat sports in general. It’s nothing to do with age or making fun of senior citizens. But if you’re going to attack a sport as vehemently and as publicly Begel did, at least have some knowledge about the subject you’ve come to condemn.

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