Trash Talk Can Go “Very” Wrong…. But Is It Warranted?
The world of fight sports has a lot of big names. Each name demands respect and each comes with their own egos and pride. Today we look at instances in which mental warfare has damaged fighters enough to break professionalism, media personas and personal lives.
The Notorious Eagle
In 2018, Khabib Nurmagomedov couldn’t keep his cool after UFC 229. He had spent the entire event berated by his opponent on every level. The mental battle started with personal comments about Khabib and kept going to his family and religion. Following round four Nurmagomedov had unequivocally proven that he was the champ. Rather than acting like the champ, The Eagle jumped out of the stage and attacked Conor’s teams who were still ripping into him.
McGregor famously has let his pride control his actions in social confrontations, and illegal actions. He’s had a history of starting fights with people before and after a match either to play into the promotion or to fuel his opponents desire for vengeance. He’s acutely aware of how good a marketing tactic it can be to make a Notorious name for oneself and uses it strategically to place himself in the limelight.
Despite usually being the retaliator in most situations, Conor had taken the wordplay against Khabib to new heights. Khabib on the other hand was unsatisfied even with a win, he had not gotten revenge for all the malicious remarks the Notorious had said and attacked Conor’s corner viciously.
Afterwards Khabib would have problems claiming his belt from the UFC and the media/entertainment propaganda culture of the UFC may have taken a large part to play in that. Nurmagomedov was suspended for nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and fined $500,000. McGregor was suspended for six months and given a much smaller $50,000 fine.
Jorge on the other hand is known for his street life and gangsta attitude, so fights out in public spaces aren’t new to him and are more part of his personal life than a fad he’s using to gain fame. However UFC drama does sell paper views and what better way than a rivalry with a former friend, Colby, “Chaos” Covington and Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal.
A disappointing and very one sided official bout took place between the two ex friends at UFC 272, Colby Chaos came out on top, with a decisive win over his once training partner and close friends. Prior to the fight many hurtful words were said, a lot of which could easily be considered personal and Masvidal was not at all satisfied with the result. Masvidal’s family, his parenting, and his values were questioned brutally in Colbys media campaign.
Following the MMA match on the 6th of March, Masvidal took revenge into his own hands. Locating Colby outside the Papi Steak restaurant in Miami Beach via Instagram. He found his way to sucker punch the number one welterweight contender out in the street and even released a video afterwards showing his face to the public. Colby, who was unready and with the Nelk Boys, filed charges immediately. Masvidal then went on to release a video the following day showing his face and asking Colby to do the same.
Covington suffered a broken tooth and claimed a $15000 loss on his $60000 Rolex watch. And after receiving advice from his lawyer, he pleaded guilty and paid the release bond.
The Prince Stuns the Academy
Then we have the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith. Will comes from a loving, if not a well to do family, he was well educated and has never had any real participation in fight sports other than his stunt training. Although Smith played Muhammad Ali, the Greatest boxer ever back in 2001 and that wasn’t the last time he conditioned himself in fighting. The Bad Boys star has had his fair share of rigorous fitness and weapons coaching, though this is clearly the first time Will has been in such a public confrontation.
Earlier this week Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on one of the most prestigious award shows in the world. While Chris not only kept calm and professional for the Oscars to carry on, his showmanship shined light on Will and the odd Smith family. Jada Smith has had little to say about the entire encounter, despite being the point of Rock’s mild hair-loss joke relating to the movie “G.I Jane”.
The media fell into mass hysteria over the event, with Chris himself proclaiming that it may be one of the greatest moments in television history. Chris Rock is a comedian and was a presenter at the event, he showcased little to no threat to anyone and Will’s display of humiliation upon Rock, seemed at least somewhat unjustified. Smith, who even took an award at the event, wasn’t asked to leave and has been desperately defending himself since.
In the fight world, and the world in general, mental battles amongst humans are commonplace. Verbal warfare in fight sports is used to break the opponents mental will power and that does come with some media recognition. Do you think disputes between professionals should be handled inside the ring? On the other hand, more than often, fighters don’t have a clear boundary that they won’t cross, and famously comedians have no boundaries at all when it comes to who they roast. Where do you think such an invisible line exists and would you be able to keep your calm in similar situations?