The Question we put to a bunch of high level Pro MMA fighters is this;
Does MMA still have the Honor, integrity and Code of conduct that many followed in the early stage of MMA (Vale Tudo, Shoot, Pride) ?
Or indeed was there ever a true sense of honor, was this always a sport with fame, money and popularity as a key influence?
The thought came to mind after i had finished watching a fantastic little doco. made by The Grappling Dummy – feat. Enson Inoue.
I have always admired Enson, he seemed to embody far more than just a man searching for fame and money via MMA. He reminded me alot of a Martial Artist, something out of a movie, someone who held Honor, respect and integrity inside and outside of the ring.
I will post the doco in 2 parts here, and highly recommend viewing it. This is post-MMA career, but in this short doco. you can see Enson has a set vision and a path that he has incorporated into his life. Fighters usually battle daily – battle fatigue, injury, promoters, haters, they must also battle there own mentality and emotions. If you choose to incorporate Honor in life, why not be honorable in the cage.
The modern fighter can often be criticized of seeking fame, fortune, celebrity status, huge money days and a lack of moral / martial code.
Sun Tzu once said “For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.”
So we cannot expect that a fighter wouldn’t do all they can to earn more money and set up there life as best they can. However there must be a line between earning & laying down a legacy of honor and respect.
We spoke to a handful of fighters about the issue and here’s what they had to say:
Pride & Japanese MMA legend Enson Inoue
“ The fighters that fight for honor are still there and the money is just incentive for them. What the money, fame and sponsors have done is attracting the fighters who just do it for the money and fame. Unfortunately what someone is willing to do for financial gains and fame can not compare to what someone will do for honor. Where the sacrifices for money and fame end, the sacrifices begin for honor…
Showing honor and respect to the modern world of MMA i see BJ Penn, Matt Riddel, the Diaz Brothers, Jose Aldo, Dan Hederson, Grey Maynard, just a few right off my head. Back in my era i looked to guys like Mike Tyson, The Gracies, Julio Cesar Chavez and others “
UFC veteran James Mcsweeney (10-9)
“Mma still has honor for sure, it’s more the honor of competion in my view!
To compete at the highest level u can, respecting your opponent, and honoring the fans and sponsors to make sure the fight is everything they expect so they feel that they have value for money…
For me growing up, I watched a lot of martial artist like bruce lee, but to be honest my family was a huge influence for me. My mum and dad are extremely hard workers and showed me that if you want something enough you have to work hard to achieve it. This kept me very grounded and honorable in my business!”
Bellator Fighter JJ Ambrose (18-4)
“Fighting has become a fad, that’s why you see guys with Mohawks and tough tattoos. The Guys that are legit don’t have gimmicks, just confidence in their abilities. Old school, no flash just fire…
I look at guys like Dan Henderson, you don’t hear him talk much, he doesn’t brag, he doesn’t need to.everyone knows what he’s about, no glamour just grit…
Mma is a lot like life, just when you think you have it figured out, you get hit by a right cross and everything changes. The sport is constantly changing, so too does the philosophy. Ten years ago jiu jitsu was all you needed to get you through a fight. Now everyone has a brown or black belt.”
One FC, Road FC & Shooto Japan fighter Andrew Leone (6-2)
“Combat sports are interesting, foundation of it is competition. But when money comes into play, everyone wants more. Some people have there pie charts divided more on the money part, for some its just a love for the game with incentives. But everyone’s gotta eat!
We’re all thinking about our futures…
Lyoto Machida is a fighter i feel is holding onto a tradition of respect and honor in and out of the cage.”
“What drove me first to get involved in MMA was the competition. But over the years your involved, the people you meet and travel it becomes a lifestyle. Of course there is an honor of being an MMA fighter…
I was never at a training center where they preached honor, code or philosophy. But I did learn many of those on the journey I am on. Mma to me isn’t just a sport, it was never about the fame or money. It’s a combination of those but it’s a lifestyle, a endless journey I am on.
To me Gsp has been a great champion, he learned from previous mistakes and conquered from them. Very honorable, humble and deserving champion”