May 26, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Junior Dos Santos (left) connects with a punch on Frank Mir (right) during the UFC 146 at the MGM Grand Garden event center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
If there was a narrative Dana White, Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg tried to set throughout the night in the build towards the main event UFC Heavyweight championship title fight between Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, it was alleging that the two combatants didn't like each other. Not just from them having a clash of personalities, but we were reminded again and again that Frank Mir broke the arm of Junior dos Santos' mentor, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. It's the classic martial arts B-movie storyline of the hero avenging his fallen master by vanquishing the villain responsible. And like most films of this ilk, the plot is a complete fabrication.
In his post fight interview after successfully defending his title, dos Santos was asked by Rogan essentially how it felt to beat the man who beat his mentor. Dos Santos answered with the charming honesty and simplicity we've come to expect from him: both Mir and Nogueira are great fighters, and any past or continued rivalry is between them. And just like that, dos Santos popped the 'Bad Blood Balloon', releasing the hot air of contrived fight promotion to dissipate into the atmosphere.
JDS vs Mir isn't the lone example of a headlining fight UFC felt the need to artificially manufacture conflict within. Because of the various delays that occurred before the eventual Jon Jones vs Rashad Evans match up, any seemingly real heat between the two had cooled, and UFC did their utmost to try and convince the fans it was still an inferno of emotions. What we ended up with was a fairly ho-hum affair, and while there was a genuine sense of betrayal felt by Evans from the Team Jackson fallout, we got the impression it wasn't this big deal UFC were trying to make it out to be.
More after the jump....
The problem recently has been the greater frequency in which we've been told by the UFC that two fighters dislike or even hate each other, with little evidence to back up this notion, and it's already getting to the point where fans have expressed a disinterest in fights marketed this way. If everyone dislikes or hates each other when headlining a UFC event, and we're constantly being told about it, it soon becomes passé and the audience becomes blasé.
Look, it's great when two fighters have a genuine grudge as it often promises an enhanced viewing experience for the audience. Any possibility of the violence being cranked up a notch, and a sense of real drama that transcends the pursuit of glory and reward is a welcome addition to a display of athletic excellence. And it makes perfect sense for a promoter to exaggerate said grudge, for the purpose of selling the event.
But there's also something to be said in the increased worth of something rare, compared to flooding the market and devaluing a product. So perhaps when it comes to hyping fights based on mutual enmity, less is more.