It's not easy being a new MMA fan, or even a moderately educated one. No matter how much you think you know, there are people ready to refute it and swear on their lives that you're wrong. Regardless of how much time you devote to learning more about the sport (and keeping up with what is unquestionably the most successful period in it's short history), there's someone that is devoting the same amount of time and was watching Pancrase tapes when you were worried about the Undertaker/Kane feud (my favorite angle of all time, by the way). Depending on your source - or, more importantly, your internal set of biases and preferences that dictates what sources you prefer - you can carry around a misconstrued notion of what actually happened for years. That is, until reality - often wielded by annoying fans frustrated to see all these morons coming into their precious sport - slaps you in the face.
I'm not one of those fans. I've learned a lot about the sport since I started writing about it, but the breadth and depth of what I don't know is humbling. As the sport grows - setting the PPV buy mark record the year after setting the PPV buy mark record - welcoming and cultivating new fans is crucial to better judging, more support for (and patronage of) local promotions, and a bunch of other things. It's going to be awfully hard to get people interested if they have to deal with the smoke and mirrors that - in all likelihood - turned them off from pro wrestling when they hit puberty. That means coming into a sport with unclear/frequently contested rankings (PRAISE THE METAS), disparate talent and various accounts of history and current events that are almost always self-serving and misleading. Scott Coker is not helping in any of these regards. This piece will focus on the latter.
The goal of any decent writer is to tell the truth, and it's really, really hard to do when you're covering/opining on MMA. Reading the blogs isn't enough. Even talking to people actually involved in the situation apparently isn't enough. It must be like this in journalism - everything you hear is at least 10% bullshit, and every source is dishonest and self motivated. There really are no impartial arbiters of information.
No, to keep up, you have to get your information from multiple sources and check them against others. Ariel Helwani has done a fantastic job of asking different pieces of situations the same questions, thus eliciting several instances of dishonesty. Scott Coker, appearing on the last Fanhouse podcast, expressed several things that are demonstrably false, including but not limited to claiming that the "rules and regulations of MMA" prevented Strikeforce from having five round non-title fights (Josh Gross followed up with several ACs, all of which claimed no discussion with Coker or Strikeforce whatsoever regarding those types of bouts). Today, we learned more.
Helwani interviewed Cesar Gracie, most known for his work training Nick Diaz and Jake Shields, and (underrated interviewer that he is) decided to pose the same question to Cesar that he did to Scott: why didn't the much-desired fight between Mayhem Miller and Nick Diaz happen? Last week, Coker claimed that he had received a phone call from Diaz, claiming he was at 172 lbs and would be unable to take a catchweight bout against Miller. Cesar's response?
No. Nick has never called Scott Coker in his life. Nick doesn't have Scott Coker's phone number.
Dana White exhibited a similar brand of blatant dishonesty when he insisted that Tito Ortiz was still the coach of TUF and still slated to face Chuck Liddell, when photographs of Rich Franklin's banner replacing Tito's in the gym had already been leaked. While promoters are tolerated - hell, expected - to spin and highlight in favor of their fighters/agenda, this kind of demonstrably false claim was picked up quickly by the MMA media. He was rightly pilloried, by Luke Thomas and others, for harming the sport's credibility, confusing/frustrating fans, and further poisoning his (and Zuffa's) relationship with the media in order to protect the ratings of a couple of episodes of a reality show. It would be nice to see Coker held to the same standard, since they are both purportedly in the same business - promoting mixed martial arts.
Dana stood by his lie regarding the reality show, saying that Spike would have been fairly upset had he spoiled a reality show that they paid for and stating that fans weren't entitled to know the results of the show before they were broadcast. If pressed - and I hope he is - what will Coker's defense be?