MMA fighters rarely show any signs of fear but it’s there, they just call it something else.
If you asked a fighter about their fears most will shy away from the word and talk about “nerves”, “worries” or “pre-fight jitters.” According to interviews done by Managing Emotional Manhood, Buster said, “I was nervous I was in the back about to throw up.” Even after fighter Robin said, “I was extremely nervous going into this.”
The time you could catch fighters acknowledging their fear is after a loss. The blame would go toward their fear. Why stay away from the word?
This word would inhibit the fighter into some kind of womanhood state. It would take away from their manhood. Saying “nervous” or “worried” doesn’t damage the manliness of the fighter as much.
What do fighters fear though? Is it getting knocked out, breaking a limb, looking like a fool?
In interviews fighters feared getting injured and losing.They fear injuries because they know the pain that would come from them and if serious enough, could completely ruin their career. If an extreme injury were to occur, even death could be a result. When the thought of death is added into the equation it makes a person consider it much more. “There have been two well-publicized deaths of fighters resulting from brain injuries sustained in North American MMA fights since 2007.” Sure, its not an issue that should be of huge worry, but it still lurks in the shadows of the cage.” Kenneth said, “You are wondering if they are thinking of this incredible move that is really going to kill you.” This possibility of death has brought the ‘manhood’ of the sport to a different level than most sports.
But fighters tend to worry more about injuries they can live through, getting choked out or a broken arm. Fears like these have a huge range of options to look at, some needing just ice, while others needing surgery to fix the injury. One fighter needed an induced coma and brain surgery due to bleeding in the brain. The high expectancy of injuries makes it hard for a MMA fighter to get away from pain.
Losing is more of an ego crusher. Fighters don’t want to lose and look like a “chump.” People don’t forget when someone gets knocked out in the first three seconds of a round. Also, fighters have family and friends attending or watching on TV and they don’t want to let them down by losing. Dean said after losing a bout, “I feel like sh*t! I came out in front of my hometown and I got tapped out in like under a minute.”
When the fight takes a turn for the worse, fighters start to get down on themselves. “Like, ‘Oh no, he’s going to get the chicken wing-he got the chicken wing and it hurts. Ow! I look stupid out here. I’m losing,” Jimmy said. This fear of losing gives them a sense of embarrassment over things or events that aren’t necessarily a part of ‘manhood.’
What makes the losing situation worse are the fans and the power they have over the fighter. The audience members undermine losers and publicly shame them. “Amand tapped out after being caught in a chokehold, his friends stood up and one yelled ‘P***y!’ before they all walked out in disgust.” All these helped the audience members emasculate the fighters after their loss.
There’s a lot of back outs as well. Fighters will withdraw from competitions just mins before due to uncontrollable fear. This is where you have fights and all of a sudden the roster has changed to a different opponent. Many times the reason given for these back outs are injury or sickness even though the fighter passed the pre-fight exams. This draws back to using the word fear, fighters don’t want to admit being fearful of their opponent.
“Being controlled by fear, shame, or pain, however, would have undermined their manhood act, as expressing such emotions contradicted feeling rules culturally bound to manhood. But if the men could fight off their fears and foster it in their opponents, they might be victorious men.”