By Danielle DeVor

Photographer: Jeff Cain

Throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s, there were faces of MMA that made watching fights not just about what happened in the cage, but the entertainment outside of it. Names like Nick Diaz, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Nate Diaz and Chuck Liddell come to mind.

There were antics, entertaining twitter wars, youtube videos, and interviews. There were epic walkouts with dancing girls. There was attitude. Strikeforce and Dream allowed for a special type of showmanship.

Now, entertaining walkouts are gone. Now, all you have are fighters walking to the cage steadfastly with stern looks on their faces. Some pause long enough to slap the hands of waiting fans. Twitter wars seem almost staged and mean, attacking family members. There are violent incidents. Nothing is in the name of fun and good-natured ribbing.

So, what to make of this change? Have promoters lost the foresight to see the difference between entertaining antics and criminal acts? Dana White notably has shut down any attempt at a walkout that remotely differs from what he considers “serious”.

Bellator MMA has tried to bring back some of the showmanship, however, unlike the earlier incarnations, it seems more of a copy of what is seen at professional wrestling events. It doesn’t have the charm or the style that made it a separate thing. A distinctly MMA thing.

Fans can only hope that the future will improve. Because if it doesn’t, there are great concerns about what will happen to the sport.

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