Faith in Fighting: Seth Petruzelli is the Outsider

  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit

Religion and sports have always been interesting bedfellows.

Some athletes like to wear their faith on their sleeve. It’s hard to look at any sports page or website that mentions New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow without some connection to his religious faith.

In football it’s commonplace for group prayers to take place before or after games, and you rarely see a game go by in baseball or football where a player doesn’t make the sign of a cross, or points to the sky after a big play.

In the MMA world, religion has crossed over fairly often, especially in post-fight speeches where competitors call out to their religious or spiritual figures, thanking them or paying tribute in some way. In interviews, fighters often talk about their faith because it is something very important to them, near and dear to their everyday lives. So why not cross it over into their professional lives?

It was during season two of The Ultimate Fighter reality show when former UFC and current Bellator fighter Seth Petruzelli saw where faith and fighting came head to head. He fell hard on one side of the spectrum, while many of his housemates came down on the other.

“The first time it actually came up was in season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter in the house. Marcus Davis, he’s a pretty hardcore Christian and a lot of the guys in the house were the same way, especially with Matt Hughes being one of the coaches. There’s a scene actually in The Ultimate Fighter house where me and Matt kind of get into an argument for about 15 minutes or so about the bible, and obviously I think the bible is a bunch of BS, and that obviously struck a nerve with him,” Petruzelli explained to

See, Petruzelli is not one of the fighters who talk about God during interviews or post fight speeches. He’s actually a staunch atheist who is speaking out for his personal beliefs or lack thereof after seeing the subject permeate so thoroughly into MMA.

The argument during his time in The Ultimate Fighter house boiled over somewhat because his beliefs did not mesh with Hughes or many of the other fighters, and it’s hard for those kinds of things not to cause a rift.

“We kind of had an argument back and forth, with me coming out on top obviously cause you can’t argue with science. Science trumps faith in all aspects of everything. But they had group bible sessions in the house and I just kind of had a little dialogue obviously with Marcus Davis too about it, all kinds of stuff in the bible,” Petruzelli explained.

“I love Marcus to death and he can have his own views, but it just blows my mind that people can be that out of the loop with reality, and to believe in things like that when common sense just says not to.”

There’s no doubt that Petruzelli’s statements are going to be met generally in one of two ways. Either people are going to blast him for making such harsh statements about religion and religious followers or there are going to be those that agree with him and support his “coming out” about his own belief structure.

That’s where the old saying comes from that you never talk religion or politics amongst friends.

Petruzelli doesn’t subscribe to that theory because he believes that if other fighters are going to speak out about their devotion to a deity, he has the same right to speak out about his lack of belief.

“Faith to me is intellectual bankruptcy,” said Petruzelli. “I have faith in my fighting ability because there’s facts to back it up and that I can fight. Blind faith? Like I said, it’s intellectual bankruptcy, it’s a cop out. Tim Minchin has a great quote about this. ‘Science adjusts its views on what is observed, and faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.’

“To me, I think it just makes the people feel better. It makes them feel like they’re appeasing some higher life form or some higher God or whatever, but I think it’s something internal. It makes themselves feel better that they’re thanking somebody else for their victory, and for what they put themselves through.”

It’s apparent where Petruzelli falls in the religion in sports argument, but what about the fact that he does fight, compete, and train in MMA, where so many fighters carry religious beliefs and speak out about them regularly?

As Petruzelli explains it, go back to his stint on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter once again and revisit that conversation with Marcus Davis. Sure, Davis and Petruzelli differ greatly on their religious ideals, but it doesn’t mean they can’t still be friends, even if they disagree with each other so greatly on this particular subject.

“We post on each other’s Facebook walls all the time. He posts his right-wing Republican stuff, and I post my liberal agenda on his. We get into some friendly conversations on Facebook all the time, but of course he’s still my friend. Even though he thinks I’m damned and I’m going to Hell, we are still friends,” Petruzelli stated.

“My main training partner, my jiu-jitsu instructor, he’s super religious. I mean, he wears a cross on his gi, but I have a ton of people like that and obviously we get along and we’ll talk about it if it comes up. It’s like that saying, you don’t talk about religion or politics with your friends and it’s really like that, but I think it should be talked about. I don’t think it should be hush-hush. I think people should discuss their views and why they think the way they think about it, and debate about it. I think that’s how learning occurs.”

Petruzelli knows that the subject of religion is a touchy one, much like politics, and there’s a reason so many athletes avoid talking about it even when directly asked about their views.

NBA legend Michael Jordan was famously panned for not supporting a Democratic political candidate in the early 90's and reportedly said the reason he didn’t speak out about the matter was because “Republicans buy shoes, too.”

Nobody wants to be offensive, or be offended for that matter, and that includes Petruzelli, but he’s not keeping quiet when so many others loudly profess their faith every chance they get.

Petruzelli’s goal is like every fighter. To go out and win, make a paycheck, and appease his fans, and ultimately show that just because he’s religious or not religious, it doesn’t change the kind of person that he is on the inside or out.

“Of course I’m always worried about losing fans. I don’t want to offend anybody. I love all my fans and I hope I don’t lose anybody just because of my beliefs. I don’t feel like that represents me as a person,” said Petruzelli.

“I’m still a nice person. Just because I’m not Christian, I mean, I still donate to charities. I still rescued my dog. I’m still a nice person. It doesn’t change me as a person or my personality. I’m still me; it’s just what I believe.”

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
For more
UFC News and UFC Rumors, follow on Twitter and Facebook.

view original article >>

Related News

  • 28 days ago

The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Fox Sports have terminated their respective broadcasting services agreements with former title contender and analyst Chael Sonnen. more

  • 29 days ago

Sorry/not sorry. Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion and clean-sport crusader Georges St. Pierre came out in support of his "good friend" and fellow Canadian, Jimmy Cournoyer, after the "King of Pot" plead guilty to drug trafficking (more on that here). Turns out, some of his fans were not too happy about it. "Rush" penned a letter for the mixed martial arts (MMA) community earlier today (Sun., June 29, 2014) to explain the circumstances behind their relationship, f more

  • 28 days ago

The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Aug. 23 visit to Oklahoma continues to fill out, as Aaron Phillips will take on Matt Hobar in a bantamweight bout. more

  • 28 days ago

It's just what the title says, as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to pay-per-view (PPV) this weekend (Sat., July 5, 2014) with UFC 175 from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Get complete, official "Weidman vs. Machida" event results, live updates and real-time coverage right here on fight night! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to pay-per-view (PPV) this weekend (Sat., July 5, 2014) with UFC 175 inside Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, featu more

  • 27 days ago

Sexy Arianny Celeste bikini photos gallery from Fitness Gurls 2014 Swimsuit Issue, featuring 15 pics of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon Girl on the beach rocking a sizzling bikini in the magazine's July offering. more

  • 27 days ago

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back with its "Embedded" pre-fight video blog series for UFC 175, featuring behind-the-scenes footage ahead of this weekend's (Sat., July 5, 2014) "Weidman vs. Machida" pay-per-view (PPV) event at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Watch the Middleweight champion of the world complain about unsanitary hotel conditions, the former Light Heavyweight champion find inner peace, Alexis Davis train "24/7" with her significant other and Ronda Rousey more

  • 26 days ago

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion Johny Hendricks believes his win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 was actually his first title defense, because "Bigg Rigg" insists he beat Georges St. Pierre at UFC 167. more

  • 26 days ago

Get the flop out of here! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White isn't exactly the biggest fan of soccer; or Futbol. So it's unlikely that the Las Vegas fight boss is in tuning in to the 2014 World Cup -- which is currently taking place in Brazil -- like the rest of the world is. White and UFC, however, wasted no time in taking a jab at soccer in this latest promotional video for this weekend's (Sat., July 5, 2014) UFC 175 pay-per-view (PPV) event in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sparked more

  • 26 days ago

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White was on "America's Pregame" earlier this week via FOX Sports talking about his tough decision to fire Chael Sonnen (read the full transcript here), as well as his intention to coax BJ Penn into retirement with a loss to Frankie Edgar at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 Finale this Sunday (July 6, 2014) in Las Vegas, Nevada (read that quote here). Of course, White also dishes some dirt of UFC 175 (results), the other major mixed martial arts ( more