McGregor yelling
MMA fans might suffer fools, but they will sure as beans not abide an excuse-maker or blame-shifter. Before the congregation says amen, a moment of pause seems fitting. There are so many intangibles in such a very, very, tangible sport. There are so many things that are - whatever the most correct word would be for - the opposite of abstract. Broken orbital bones, hematomas, weight misses, etc. There is plenty in the fight game where there is no need for judgment and speculation. But, trying to discern when someone is making excuses – which is often seen as lacking virtue and even cowardly – is far from an exact science. It is even strange that there is a discussion associated with this subject at all. But it rears its head so often it almost begs to be mulled over.

Before even entering any meaningful examination of excuses, blaming, reasoning, etc., there are a few things to note. Like for example, when something appears to be an excuse happens after a win instead of a loss. Yes, that happens. When a performance might seem sub-par in someone's eyes, the athlete may begin to try and explain. It may be he or she was on a skid and needed a win. It may be they were unhealthy and had to do what their limitations required. It may be they took what might be judged the easier path to victory. And then of course, there is the losing side of the excuse- making conundrum. But, again, this is moving too fast and not building a sufficient foundation for the discussion to begin with.

The evident complexity of an extremely dangerous sport should be expected to produce all manner of coping mechanisms. It is no wonder the athletes involved are so diverse in their responses and actions to MMA competition. It is a ridiculous thing to engage in! In the best sense, of course. Not everyone can be Jocko Willink and have the ability to seemingly will all excuse-making out of their psyche. Most people are a little more human and have to find ways of dealing with adversity and stress. And most have probably not spent what may amount to actual time or energy looking into taking all responsibility for their station in life or sport. This is not taught in school. The honest observer knows even in themselves where there might be a tendency to look for a loophole in the failure spectrum. To try and find a way that it was not their (our) fault.

How can it be that fans of a sport that involves so much potential trauma both physically and emotionally are prone to point out something that there is a good chance they (we) likely do regularly? When was the last time you told someone, "I was late because of poor planning and time management"? Or, "Sorry boss, my work is not complete because I was watching cat videos on the internet." This all comes into even more focus when we look at the individual nature of fighting. Opportunities to place blame are more limited. You have heard maybe in other sports that coaches lose and players win, but in a practical Thunderdome, there is hardly a soul around to blame when things go south. When it is judged someone is making excuses (right or wrong) in this bubble, it seems to be amplified as if through a megaphone because it is the athlete in the cage standing alone.

So, maybe the honorable path for fans who may balk at what seems like an excuse being peddled as a reason for some lackluster outing, to take a breath for a moment of empathy and consideration. This pause is harder of course as excuses – perceived or otherwise - do not age like... ahem... fine wine (is whine too far?). What would the MMA fan lose if they said, "Even if that is 100% excuse and 0% reason, they stepped into a cage and were willing to be hurt for a paycheck and my entertainment." Yes, it is not only whether one wins or loses, but how they play the game and while we may want our heroes impervious to human frailty, it is a heck of a game fighters have to play.

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