Unless you’ve been living under a rock since Saturday night, you’d have seen the moment from BCMMA 18 in which Joe Harding suffered a brutal knockout whilst taunting his opponent.

Harding looked in control of the fight on the feet, with every successful strike he landed, his confidence and arrogance grew and he began to really loosen up and have fun. That was up until his opponent Johan Segas had had enough of the dance moves and stepped in with a brutal left high kick which left Harding unconscious.

The video of the incident has now gone viral on the internet, with people such as UFC president Dana White posting and commenting, and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide poking fun at Harding. I, myself, am naturally guilty of doing the same, but then I began to think a little more about it all…

Now, you don’t need to be an expert in combat sports to know that Joe Harding made a costly mistake. The whole world has seemed to turn on his mid-fight antics, crucifying him in comments sections and making it clear that people are glad to see the fight end the way it did. However, when you look deep into the incident and break it down further, you can’t help but feel the backlash is a little unfair. And why might that be?

February 2017 – the modern era of combat sports

Needless to say that the old fashioned mentality towards fighting has completely changed. We are now part of an era in which it is factually proven that skills alone simply do not pay the bills. The best and most skilled fighters in this day and age are not necessarily the highest paid, or even guaranteed to get a fair shot at fighting for a world title.

The men and women today in combat sports that make the most money and have the most opportunities available towards them, are those that stand out outside of their actual combat skill sets, and have these rare personalities, gimmicks, even haircuts believe it or not.

This poses the question: what kind of example/blueprint/mentality (however you want to put it) is being laid out for our next generation of amateur fighters who are looking to make a fulfilling career in combat sports? Why would younger men and women, boys and girls look up to people like Demian Maia, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Demetrious Johnson, who have dedicated a lifetime of hard work and perseverance into a sport where guys with better self marketability and promotion are able to, in some cases, make much more money than those that arguably they aren’t as skilled as?

So, let’s break this down further. The fact is this: the key component to a fighter’s finances comes from one place before anything else: the fans. Without fight fans, there is no industry. The whole sport is built around the entertainment of those watching the sport. Without them, no pay-per-views are being purchased, no tickets are being bought, and Conor McGregor owns no suits. So, it is the fans as a whole who control who earns what.

If you’re that guy that will tune in to watch CM Punk and Brock Lesnar, or Chris Brown vs. Soulja Boy, but have no idea who Tony Ferguson is (for example), then I hate to say it, but you are part of the reason that the payroll and title contentions are the way they are. So, if you’re a purist of combat sports and watch all kinds of fights, not just the superstars of their respective sports, then feel free to comment on the mistakes made by Joe Harding in his last fight. BUT, if you’re that guy that only watches Rousey and McGregor, then I’m afraid you’re as much to blame for Joe Harding’s antics as he is, so please drop the online hate.

Joe Harding is just another young guy looking to make a name in MMA. He got comfortable, wanted to entertain the crowd and stand out that little bit more, but in the end he got caught and is now paying the price. If that left high kick didn’t land, and he went on to win, a lot of people would be raving about his performance. He took a gamble and it didn’t pay off on this occasion, but I’m sure he will only use it to learn from, get better and continue with a promising career.

Let’s give the guy a break, and maybe even some props for having the courage to not only get in a cage and fight, but to try and stand out amongst a crowd. To Joe Harding I say:

Keep your chin up, keep doing what you’re doing, ignore the comments and continue to entertain. You will never influence the world by being just like it.


See what happens when Harding met Segas after the fight – http://thesprawlmma.com/eng-us/news/joe-harding-meets-johan-segas-loss/


Header image is courtesy of the excellent Tom Archer of greyhairandglasses.com Check out his work there and over at the Instagram page.