Jorge Rivera has always been a fighter's fighter: chin down, mouth closed, fists up. That is until he got the bout contract to face Michael Bisping at UFC 127. This is the 38 year old Rivera's first time in the co-headliner slot and he knew he had to step up his game and he has.
Like any fighter looking to improve, Rivera's looking at role models at the top of the sport for techniques and tactics. In this case, it's Chael Sonnen and the art of smack talking to hype a fight. Per Sherdog:
Rivera fought for nearly a decade without engaging in the types of exchanges he's had with Bisping. It's a calculated change.
"I watch guys like Chael Sonnen, who was basically going through the same thing," Rivera said. "He was a good fighter not getting the notoriety that he wanted. He starts talking a little bit, and the whole world starts watching. I'm thinking to myself, that's the one thing that I feel MMA can learn from boxing. We have to be able to get people to want to watch this fight. Nobody wants to watch something more than two people who don't like each other."
"This is how I make my living," Rivera said. "Yeah, I want to be known. Yeah, I want to have exciting fights. Yeah, I'm going to bring it every single time. I want to be recognized for that. So let me hype it up a little bit and watch me deliver on it."
In the aftermath of UFC 117, I blogged a lot about Chael Sonnen's incredible outside the cage performance in hyping the fight. During the course of those posts, BE commenter mmalogic made some big claims for Sonnen's influence on the MMA game:
Chael Sonnen just proved kayfabe is as important as BJJ, wrestling and striking. (maybe not as necessary to make it... but just as important)
Kayfabe plus credible performances equals gold.
Do you realize all the outrageous shit Muhammed Ali used to say and do (chael is a kitten by comparison)? Get your heads out of your asses.
Kayfabe in MMA today is what BJJ used to be in the 90's... Few understand what they are seeing and less than a handful of those that do can actually execute it (chael being one of a few who can).
The future full time fighter will have his BJJ training, Wrestling. striking AND the art of kayfabe.
Yep... it's is a martial art now. You just need to be a credible fighter to make use of it.
Yeah, yeah, mmalogic misuses the term kayfabe to mean fight promotion but otherwise I think he's correct. Jorge Rivera has certainly added it to his arsenal. He won't be the last UFC middle carder to follow Sonnen down the left hand path of outrageous fight promotion.