MMA Ratings Podcast

August 23, 2010

King Mo Lawal & MMA Fans: Educated or Bandwagon Jumpers

King Mo says: F*ck YallMore Articles by Kevin Wright

“F*ck the fans. A lot of them ain’t educated. They’re just bandwagon jumpers.” This according to former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion King Mo Lawal. While Mr. Lawal is right to a certain extent, he is also wrong! I like to consider myself a fairly educated fan, and also the furthest thing from a bandwagon jumper. I have the fighters I root for and also have certain fighters I root against. There are very few instances where I flip flop my view of a fighter once I’ve made up my mind how I feel about them, but like anything else, there will always be the exceptions to the rule. I feel MMA fans have it tough in this regard though, especially when compared to team sports.

Like most kids growing up, I was introduced to organized team sports at an early age. When it came to picking who I was going to root for, it was simple, it was the two major Boston teams (the Celtics and Red Sox) and the New England Patriots. I was the kid who picked the Pats in Techmo Bowl or the Red Sox in nintendo baseball, not because they were good or superstar ladened, but because I was a die hard fan. Other kids may have liked the Cowboys or Bulls because it was trendy or the White Sox because “Bo knew baseball,” but generally speaking you rolled with the team that was from your hometown or state. Fast forward 25 years into the future where there are only a handful of players in any professional sport that actually stay with a team for their whole career, even if it happens to be their hometown, and we have the emergence of more “bandwagon fans.”

MMA is such a new sport (when compared to the “big 3″), it’s really easy for fans to hop on and off of bandwagon’s, but let’s stick with whom Mo was talking about. He specifically was referring to the fans and there on again off again love of Anderson Silva. I was able to witness this first hand at UFC 101 in Philadelphia when he faced Forrest Griffin. Coming off of a less than stellar performance against Thales Leites, I was in the minority clapping and cheering for Silva as he made his way to the cage. Midway through the first round, the majority of the crowd had shifted in favor of the Brazilian and away from the fan favorite in Griffin. Same thing happened again earlier this month at UFC 117, the fans began the night backing Chael Sonnen but ended the night loudly cheering Silva after an almost impossible come from behind submission victory.

Does this make MMA fans uneducated or stupid? I don’t think so, I think it shows that fans in general have an easier time rooting for a city rather than one particular individual. I also think that MMA fans aren’t as invested with a particular fighter now as they may be in a few more years. What “King” Mo also has to realize now more so than ever is that the fans dictate his ability to make money. There is no profit sharing in MMA as is the case in other sports (between teams and filtered down to the players), it’s an individual sport, and you’re only as good and as valuable as your last win (and in some cases not even your last 3 wins, ask Dan Henderson).

To say “fuck the fans” if you are the UFC champion or someone the fans even know is one thing, but Lawal was champion of arguably Strikeforce’s weakest division. Dare I say I don’t think it was the wisest thing to say, especially if MMA fans are as fickle and uneducated as he thinks, as now he’s just the guy who couldn’t even defend the weakest title Strikeforce has even one time. I personally never bought the Mo Lawal hype, and saw him as nothing more than an average wrestler with next to no stand up! Now I’m guessing even the most remotely educated fan sees him exactly the same way I always have. I truly hope he can now take a step back, improve and come back stronger than ever, winning back some of the “uneducated fans” who hopped off his bandwagon.

Kevin Wright writes for Monday Morning Black Belt.


  1. The only defense I have for Lawal’s statements is that playing the heel can make for an effective path to becoming a draw. But I don’t get the impression that is what he’s going for.

    What I think is interesting is the presumption that there is a correlation between being a bandwagon jumper and an uneducated fan. I would suggest that this makes Lawal sound like the uneducated one. As was pointed out there is a major ‘reasonable’ differences between team and individual sports when it comes to fan loyalty.

    Personally I tend to root for the fighter with the biggest upside. With Feijao’s loss to Mike Kyle Lawal was that fighter. Now they’re on pretty even footing, except that in a hypothetical rematch Cavalcante has already corrected his sloppy conditioning issue, while Lawal’s issues might prove more difficult to overcome.

    With this in mind, what kind of educated fan would I be for staying on King Mo’s bandwagon? In fact I think I would be a foolish one.

  2. I was never a fan of King Mo. Actually, I'd been patiently awaiting the burn out of his short, flickering flame.

    The other day I told someone that as far as I was concerned: King Mo = Kimbo.

    OH, Boy did thay take offense to my statement! It was as though I had just challenged their intelligence.

    No, King Mo didn't make his name a a backyard brawler like Kimbo, but I felt the comparison was warranted. -- Two big black guys, both with the ability to knock someone out quickly but, neither guy has "real" MMA training or serious skills.

    These "sideshow type" fighters bore me.

    I want to see REAL MMA athletes fight.


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