Dear Dana White,
I like to consider myself an intellectual. Not in a pretentious way but more in the sense that I don’t think being smart or educated is something to be ashamed of or mocked. Early on in high school I was picked on by a couple of jocks. By in large most of them, like most of everyone else didn’t really notice my existence but a couple of jock douchebags decided to pick on me and my indifference to sports became a seething hatred for meathead jocks. Granted, it was unfair of me to judge a whole group of people, namely athletes, by the actions of a couple of assholes but when you’re fifteen you’re generally not blessed with a philosophical and objective perspective. Even to this day, despite being intellectually evolved and more open-minded, that knee-jerk prejudice against jocks is still there. I make a distinction here between “jocks” and athletes, which doesn’t erase my prejudice, just makes it more selective.
When I first became aware of MMA I didn’t know it was MMA. I, like a lot of people saw it for how it was marketed at the time, as a brutal, no rules, barbaric bloodsport. Unfortunately, this angle repulsed me. It seemed to be everything I hated: dumb, meathead, uber-agro jock dicks that thought bashing someone’s face in and sending them to the hospital was cool. If they didn’t market it like that, I likely would’ve become a big fan of Royce Gracie – this little Brazilian beating much bigger and stronger guys with technique, with brains. I would’ve eaten that shit up at the time, if I had known and understood more about the sport; if it was marketed as mixed martial arts and not “No-Rules Cage Fighting”. It was your doing with The Ultimate Fighter that showed me that this was a real sport with athletes who trained. Martial artists rather than blood-thirsty barbarians. Not to say it’s not violent and primal and occasionally brutal and not to deny the visceral appeal of that element but it’s also a lot more. And we also got to see that most fighters weren’t typical jocks. They’re athletes but most of them had to be a little bit nuts to want to do this for a living.