Brendan Schaub recently sat down with interim champion Dustin Poirier to talk about various topics including his upcoming title bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov. This is where the former UFC heavyweight turned host spoke about promoting big fights, and how the landscape is changing.
“I don’t need you and Khabib to talk shit,” Schaub told Poirier. “I kind of feel now that Conor has kinda been out of the picture. The whole trash talk, that WWE entertainment phase that we were going through — I call the ‘entertainment era’ — it’s kinda over.”
“I hope so man,” Poirier replied.
“Especially with ESPN,” Schaub continued. “With the new business model, and they’re going away from superstars and the pay-per-view model, there’s no reason to act like that anymore.”
Poirier, who is mainly a fan favorite for his fighting style instead of his outside antics, says he was never a fan about “fake” smack talk anyway.
“It’s unattractive to me when it’s forced,” he said. “When you can tell it’s fake, or you can tell this guy has premeditated what he would say in press conferences? I don’t like that shit. If it’s real, if these guys really don’t like each other, then it’s fun to watch. Some of these guys are forcing it, and you can tell. I don’t like that shit, man.”
With the UFC’s new PPV deal with ESPN giving them guaranteed revenue, they technically don’t need to rely much on one to two massive superstars to carry their numbers anymore. But will it end this “era” of smack talk as Schaub says? Maybe to some degree, it could tone some of it down, but I highly doubt there would be a massive shift.
The new ESPN deal mainly affects the UFC’s biggest stars, and this doesn’t include fighters like Colby Covington, who was never really a PPV draw to begin with. So will it stop guys like him from constantly talking smack? Not really. Fighters try all these gimmicks to get attention and separate themselves from the pack in order to get more opportunities and/or fans. You can argue about the effectiveness of that strategy, but I highly doubt they’ll stop trying just because of this.