In this week’s edition of King & Slim, Ant Walker and Kristen King discuss what has been going on since the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively put a hold on everything in the world, except for mixed martial arts which continues to try and push forward during the worst possible time.
Ant: Okay, Kristen. It’s been a little while since we’ve done this, so as always, [it’s] a pleasure speaking to you and I hope you’re keeping safe and sequestered. It’s a little bit strange out here.
Kristen: I have no idea what sunlight is anymore.
Ant: We did just talk about how weird life is right now. We’re obviously experiencing something unprecedented that goes beyond the confines of our sport and can really affect the trajectory of our lives and the course of the world for the foreseeable future. But somehow or another, mixed martial arts manages to be even weirder. Since the general public has gone into quarantine, whether government-mandated or self-imposed, the headlines keep turning and mixed martial arts continues to be the strangest part of an otherwise civilized society.
Ashlee Evans-Smith and her boyfriend have been accused and were caught on video “stealing” medical supplies that were intended to be donated to charity. A very weird story there. A video of Mike Perry knocking someone out in a street fight. Not sure if that is old or new. Of course, Jon Jones decided to really have at it with a bottle of Jorge Masvidal’s sponsored tequila and a pistol in the middle of the desert. And we have a UFC President that is insisting that everything will be fine and fights will carry on despite the rest of the world unraveling before our very eyes.
Kristen, how are we in the middle of something so weird yet MMA seems to be even weirder?
Kristen: None of this is surprising at all. I’ve always viewed MMA as the red-headed stepchild of the sports world and I think that comes into play when you talk about the ego that surrounds this sport. It wants to constantly show you how badass it is even in the middle of something like a global pandemic, it still wants to show you that, ‘it’s not scared of this’ and ‘it’s still going to do its job’. Because that is what they do. This is the fight business. This is their livelihood. They don’t want to completely shut down.
I know a lot of fighters are probably going stir crazy right now with their training facilities being shut down. They can’t leave their homes. They are trying their best to remain in shape for when things do go back to normal, but at the end of the day, they can’t do what they’ve been doing on a regular basis. It’s probably very difficult for them to just be in one place and I understand that.
But I don’t understand why MMA has to go down its own path. We saw everything unravel in real-time. A lot of the major sports organizations realized pretty quickly that this year was going to be…
Ant: A wash.
Kristen: Exactly. I don’t know why MMA did not follow suit at the same time everyone else did. It was so obvious that no matter what they tried; it was not going to work. Fights were not going to happen.
Ant: We’ve seen the dominoes falling everywhere else. But, I kind of see certain things both ways as far as the revenue is concerned from the fighter’s standpoint.
However, what I’m finding more bizarre than anything else, and maybe this is just a byproduct of the social media culture where everyone has a platform and therefore everyone can get their ideas however ill-informed or just blatantly stupid that they may be out in the public. I am just startled by the number of fighters who have become these medical experts and these people who know all these deep-seated conspiracy theories that are the reason why COVID-19 has killed thousands of people across the world and shut down the worldwide economy essentially.
I’m sorry, but I don’t take medical advice from Bryce Mitchell.
Kristen: I probably wouldn’t either and it’s definitely concerning seeing the number of conspiracy theories being thrown around by these fighters. I think they are trying to make it seem as if this pandemic is not that big of a deal. I’ve seen fighters liken it to the common flu, which the CDC and the WHO have both said otherwise.
This is a serious situation and should be treated as such. I know these fighters want to get back to fighting, but right now, we need to focus on how to get out of this so we can all get back to normal.
Ant: It is consistently amazing to me that mixed martial arts finds a way every single time to be strange. To simply go off the beaten path for no reason other than…f**k it. Because it can. I don’t even know what else to say about it other than MMA is going to MMA at this point. It just seems to be interwoven in the fabric of the sport.
Kristen: In the words of Max Holloway, it is what it is.