Paul Heyman Working with Shane Carwin to Promote UFC 131

New UFC 131 headliner Shane Carwin posted a piece of news on twitter this weekend that is sure to anger a portion of fans:

Paul Heymen @HeymanHustle is here handling the UFC Countdown shoot.

For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Paul Heyman is a professional wrestling personality best known for his time running ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) in the late 90's. He has been out of pro wrestling for some time now, and has been a vocal fan of MMA . He is also good friends with Brock Lesnar. Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer has a bit more detail:

[T]his is not a deal with UFC, but the production company that does the Countdown special and Spike TV hired Heyman to help with the Countdown show for UFC 131. His role was to help Brock Lesnar promote the fight, and with Lesnar pulling out, they asked him if he'd instead work with Carwin, which he's doing. It's not a UFC hire. The idea of Heyman working with UFC in teaching fighters how to promote matches (and how not to) isn't the world's worst idea.

As I mentioned above, this is news that will surely anger many fans. There is a strong resistance among many in the MMA world to having any connection with the fake theatrics of professional wrestling. For a long-time wrestling name like Heyman to be brought in will lead some to believe the UFC is tipping the scales too far in favor of entertainment over sport. 

However, as Meltzer notes, this is not a bad thing. Paul Heyman's two biggest skills as a wrestling personality are skills that can be a great asset here: 1) He knows how to give interviews that get people excited; and 2) He knows how to bring out a fighter/wrestler's personality. This last point is key. Heyman made a lot of financial missteps during his time at ECW, but he also made a number of middle of the road wrestlers into bona fide superstars, including Steve Austin.

Like it or not, and again, many fans do not, Brock Lesnar showed that there is room for MMA promotion to learn from pro wrestling. Lesnar knew how to promote a fight (some of which he learned from Heyman), and he used that knowledge to help the cards he headlined reach great heights. With Brock out of UFC 131, we're left with Junior Dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin - two men who work well as foils for Lesnar, but are they capable of drawing those massive numbers without his presence? This is an especially important question to ask since Brock's entire career is in jeopardy.

Whether it's short term or long term, for now, Brock Lesnar and his marketing-ready persona are out for the moment. For the UFC to bounce back, they need to help some of their remaining fighters learn from what Brock brought to the promotion. Maybe Paul Heyman is the man to help teach them.

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