When you internally debate whether or not to throw down 54.95$ (plus 10$ extra for high definition) for a UFC pay-per-view, how much does the fact the two combatants headlining legitimately hate each other come into play?
Can you honestly even answer the question? The answer is no, this is because the business model of “bad guy” versus “likeable guy” has become so fabricated due to its overwhelming success -- no fight anymore has any real legit heat.
The recent buyrates of so-called “grudge matches” such as Silva-Sonnen II, Diaz-GSP, and even going far back as Evans-Rampage are proof of the success that these style of events achieve. But are they truly worthy of this acclaim?
When the adversity is tangible the result can be epic, but when the truth is tweaked and exaggerated for show the results aren't always as redeeming.
Once you have pressed the confirm to buy button your fate has been sealed, at this point it’s too late, and the art of marketing has played you and the sport. Then you watch while the sham slowly unfolds before your eyes.
Gloves touch, one of the fighters underperforms (usually the loud one,) hugs are exchanged, compliments are given, and then the posturing begins for a fluffy return to greatness. By return to greatness, I refer to being fed lesser foes to pad the victory column.
“They're selling you all wolf tickets people, you're eating them right up. Georges here is selling wolf tickets. Dana here is selling wolf tickets. The UFC is selling wolf tickets. You guys are eating them right up." But don’t be fooled ladies and gentleman, Nick Diaz and all the other "heels" in Mixed Martial Arts are selling you a #wolfticket too.
The UFC and Dana White proudly describe themselves first and foremost as “fight promoters.” While they deserve a great deal of the blame, the fighters are at fault also. It’s the bad guys job to piss the buyers off. It’s the good guys job to make us want to see him get his hands on the bad guy and shut him up.
Boxing has long lived and died by this exact same style of fight promotion. It even spilled over into the actual fights. One of the more famous instances involved Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson. Ali, who was a master self promoting, famously told Patterson “You want to make some money, Floyd? Play along.” Leading up to the fight, they hyped the fact there was a sense of genuine disdain between the two. This played into Ali’s Islamic beliefs, which led to a huge live gate and closed circuit viewing audience. The fight itself wasn’t much to get excited about, Ali won when the fight was stopped due to a cut.
Public staredowns, weigh-ins, conference calls, reality shows, all create the perfect forum for the insults, shoves, and scowls to do their job -- sell the fight.
We the audience are clued in, we can rationalize to ourselves WHY these two men are fighting.
Why do the fights rarely live up to the hype? The correct answer to this is usually the antagonist isn’t deserving of the spot they have been given. Why else do you think people are sighing at the prospect of five more Chael Sonnen fights?
Their mouths and savviness have gotten them to this point, but when it’s time to put up or shut up the hype can only take you so far.
While it may seem as if I’m knocking sportsmanship and not appreciative of following a fight with paying respect to one’s opponent, all I really am calling for is a return to realism and less showmanship. I can do without the sideshow that accompanies a big time fight nowadays.
If I couldn’t, I would watch something less real. (Which I already do, so yeah.)
Stripping Mixed Martial Arts down and taking a look at it as was initially intended, it’s sport in the rawest of forms.
Words mean nothing, posturing is irrelevant and all the bullsh*t ends. Crying wolf won’t save you, nor will witty poems --
Your fists/chin will.