Fighters versus media


Anderson SilvaMarcelo Alonso

Does that look like the face of a man who wants to answer some reporter's questions?

There is a particular kind of derisive, condescending attitude that develops when a person has no investment in engaging another in conversation. You can observe this at the retail level, where consumers keep their distance from salesmen for reasons relating to distrust or contempt. (The cell phone has made it especially easy to display passive-aggressive feelings of superiority and minimize the humanity of anyone in the vicinity.)

People like this tend to look off into the distance, exaggerate their responses and generally behave as if they'd rather be getting teeth removed.

Anderson Silva loathes doing media. He is impossibly closed off, guards his personality with faces and jokes, and enjoys amusing himself more than he does anyone else. (You can see this now manifesting itself in his fights, which is unfortunate.) Forrest Griffin is less insulated, but there's a clear undercurrent of impatience.

Is it a coincidence that both these men are financially secure and famous and have some degree of job security? Probably not. Is it a coincidence that a fighter making a few thousand bucks will grant just about any request for an interview? Probably not.

I'm not of the mind that fighters -- or anyone trading their time for exposure -- are indebted to media. It's sometimes an uneven transaction, particularly when the "publicity" consists of a poorly constructed profile or sound bite. I'm sure Griffin was pleased the first time he was asked if a fight went as planned; the hundredth time, he probably learned to feed a canned answer while his mind went elsewhere. But turning your attitude completely snide is a somewhat hypocritical rejection of the profession you chose. If attention causes you to curdle, being an athlete is the wrong road to turn onto.

Shane Carwin, the man who will face the question-marked Brock Lesnar in July, has already stated he's not going to be available for most media requests. This is the kind of proclamation you make when you want people to understand your nose is going to the grindstone: Carwin is going so deep he can't be reached. This policy works when your opponent is Lesnar, the biggest draw in the UFC at present.

What's truly odd about the adversarial relationship some fighters have with media is that they're rarely subject to the kind of unflattering, somewhat merciless portrayals "mainstream" sports figures have endured for decades. (If Ty Cobb were active in MMA, he'd be asked what's on his iPod.) Rather than evade that toothless coverage, they should enjoy it while it lasts.