Google "bad for the sport" in quotation marks. Every result on the first page, aside from one, mentions the UFC. The second page is also all UFC except for one. In both cases, the other sport mentioned is football. There are certain linguistic trends that people follow. Oftentimes, this is fun and brings insight into situations. Sayings like "that's not how it works" and "this is why we can't have nice things" come into general use. The saying "bad for the sport", though, seems to be a slippery concept.
Why does this phrase get applied to mma so much? It may have something to do with how Semaphore Entertainment marketed the UFC prior to the Zuffa buyout. They used the tagline, "one man enters, one man leaves." Simply put, the UFC was marketed as a clash between different fighting styles. Another tagline was "there are no rules". By the late 90s, under political pressure, the UFC was banned in 36 states. By the time of UFC 21, in 1999, most of the modern rules, such as no hair pulling, nut punching, or fish hooking were incorporated. Finally, the UFC could be viewed as a sport.
So, why, 16 years later, are so many fighters and fans talking about a fighter's behavior as being "bad for the sport"? Here are some possible interpretations.
1) The general public views mma, and the UFC more specifically, as blood sports. Fighters and fans are talking about someone or something being "bad for the sport" because they want to protect the image of the UFC/MMA.
2) Fighters and fans are doing it to 'hate' on each other. Ricardo Lamas insulted Connor McGregor as being "bad for the sport" because he was jealous McGregor was skipping in line for a title shot. Alexander Gustafsson claimed Jones was "bad for the sport" because he was just miffed he didn't get the rematch. That Jones somehow tarnished his career.
So, what think you folks? Please feel free to leave a comment. Disagreements and new interpretations welcome. And, by all means, make sure to vote. Because we all know that voting and democracy solve all problems. Sorry for the sarcasm. Thanks for reading.