Nearly lost in all the unprecedented but expected hullabaloo following Chris Weidman’s historic knockout of Anderson Silva was that he gave one of the worst post-fight religious diatribes in interview history. I’ve seen god, Jesus, and Allah all receive their respective but equally ridiculous shout-outs before, but this was a category all its own.
“Thank god, the only way this could have happened is god.” Weidman rambled, before painfully adding, “He’s the unbeatable, friggin, Bruce Lee of mixed martial arts.”
Now I would like to say that such a vomit-inducing statement came as a shock to me, but unfortunately the idiocy pouring out of Mr. Weidman’s mouth has become the norm for fighters these days. Before Ali, essentially every boxer was (at least perceived as) a quietly humble, god-fearing christian of any number of stripes. Ali changed all that when he announced his membership in the nation of Islam days after winning the title. For the rest of his legendary career, Ali’s religion would not only play a dominant role in his personal life, but would change how religion was perceived in sports as a whole.
And that is the most damaging aspect of his legacy.
Because Ali was heavyweight champion of the world back when the title really meant something, and his religious conversion during the civil rights movement placed him directly in the path of the nation’s consciousness. His right to convert was an affirmation of his blackness, and his refusal to join the military an affirmation of his courage. When Ali spoke about religion, especially in his later years, there was a social impact. And now it seems like every other fuckin undercard fighter does it ad nauseum.
I have to skip post-fight interviews with the victorious fighter if I’m a fan of theirs, because chances are they’re going to say something monstrously ignorant that will trigger a deafening “Weh-wuh” ship’s horn sound inside my skull. Wanderlei and Fedor are my two favorite mixed martial artists of all time, but I struggle to keep my eyes from rolling out of my head when they wax poetic about their smelly religion.
And I say “victorious fighter” because if the fighter happens to lose, whatever god he pretends is his imaginary friend is probably going to be left off of the ol’ shout-out list. The only time I’ve ever seen a fighter knocked out and still thank god was heavyweight boxer Chris Byrd several years ago. I remember thinking to myself, “Well at least he’s consistent.” What I’d really like to see though is a fighter renounce his religion after a loss. Or maybe the next time an athiest wins he should grab the mic and announce, “I’d just like to say that it was my muscles, not Jesus.”
But no, we athiests are a noble lot, and usually leave the delusional to their own devices. I don’t give a flying ass what you believe, so long as it doesn’t interfere with me personally or society as a whole. But the faithful can never seem to keep their fantasies to themselves.
That’s why we constantly have one man thanking “His lord and savior Jesus Christ” for being able to beat the shit out of another man. You know, just like Jesus would do.