Watching Jones vs. Vera, I started thinking about storylines and fighting. The storyline for last night's main event was the young, explosive, up-and-comer against the salty could've been who was still trying to prove his potential---the guy on the upswing against the guy on the downswing. The tested against the untested.
The story got more colorful at the weigh-ins when the typically stoic and respectful Jones got in Vera's face. Before I even watched the video, it was interesting to note that websites were beginning to add to the story arc: Has the young unflappable Jones finally cracked under the pressure? Will he fight angry and thus foolish? Has Vera gotten in his head?
I know I am guilty of sometimes creating a good guy and a bad guy in a fight. In the past, I have had a very hard time watching a fight and just hoping both men/women succeed and the fight as a whole is action-packed. I have to create a polarity. It's more fun that way.
Is that not some desire to see ourselves win? When the fighter we want to win does, do we not feel a surge of success? And even more specifically, if we've created a big storyline out of the fight do we not eat up whatever conclusion we've created?
In Griffin vs. Jackson, it was the feeling of the underdog shutting everyone up. In Franca vs. Uno, it was the rampaging comeback of a fighter who had been dominated in the previous round. In Tanner vs. Terrell, it was the ultra flashy and well-rounded kid cracking under the pressure of the eccentric warrior pilgrim veteran. In Pulver vs. Swanson, it was temporary redemption.
Jon Jones is a man. Brandon Vera is a man. They both wanted to succeed, not get beat down in front of a lot of people, and get paid more. They did not want to lose. Even with my own projection of a storyline, it seems to end when the stare-down ends. Now it's only the fight. Now it's only competition. If I'm Jon Jones, I'm not hype or future success, I'm a guy who wants to win. If I'm Vera, I'm not washed up, or a could've been. I'm a guy who wants to win.
Must we create storylines to enjoy fights, or is it better to drop them? Is a fan's projection of themselves onto their fighter or team not what makes every sport a dramatic and engaging pastime of so many? What do you think?