What’s the one thing boxing, NBA, NFL and most sports have over mixed martial arts? The answer simply put is noise. But that’s beginning to change, with the recent surge of stars like the ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor and ‘Rowdy’ Rhonda Rousey.
Before we had mouthpieces like Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping and of course who can forget the Diaz brothers. The one thing these fighters don’t have in common with the above is star quality in octagon on a consistent basis. Yes, you can argue Rousey recently lost to current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm. But for the most part Rousey is a constant presence in the main event scene and has brought a lot eyes to a division that before never existed.
As for Conor McGregor, he has revitalised the UFC Featherweight Division and intends to change the UFC Lightweight Division. Much like Rousey, he is capable of talking smack and backing it up when the bell sounds.
Robbie Lawler, who right now has probably the most consistent quality fights and is champion of my favourite division the UFC Welterweight Division, beat former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit but not as many casual fans cared.
The casual fans, the majority of people who follow the bandwagon, and don’t get me wrong I’m not having a go at them, they’re the reason Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm was in front of 56,214 people and they’re also the reason Conor McGregor vs Jose Aldo was 10.1 million at the gate and they could possibly be the reason The Rousey/Holm rematch will be set for UFC 200 aswell as Conor McGregor first title defence could possibly be in Dublin’s Croke Park (currently the third biggest stadium in Europe).
But is there a price the UFC has to pay for these fans and the answer is yes. UFC 189; International Fight Week, double main event: Robbie Lawler vs Rory Macdonald for the UFC Welterweight Championship (Lawler’s first title defence since beating Johnny Hendricks and was chosen by Sherdog as Fight of the Year) and Conor McGregor vs Chad Mendes for the UFC Featherweight Championship. Jose Aldo pulled out because of a fractured rib and was replaced by Mendes.
Normally in this circumstance Lawler vs MacDonald would have been made the main event but because so many fans travelled from Dublin to Las Vegas to see McGregor they had to make the McGregor/Mendes fight for an Interim title just so McGregor can be in the main event. I can understand why from a business decision they did this but from an MMA fan it’s quite annoying. It makes UFC look ridiculous aswell as making McGregor at the time look ridiculous, from that night to UFC 194 he was known by some as a ‘paper champion’.
Another example and probably the most obvious was Jon Jones vs Chael Sonnen for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title at UFC 159, say what you want about Sonnen as a wrestler, or his performance against Anderson Silva at UFC 117 but at the end of the day he wasn’t a worthy opponent for Jones. According to Dana White, he was the only one who accepted the fight after Dan Henderson was injured. But at the end of the day it was Sonnen’s mouth that got him that fight because he can put asses in seats. And that’s fair enough after all UFC is a business aswell as a sport, and the owner’s don’t mind when you’re capable of putting them in a new tax bracket, the problem is; this does have an effect on the credibility of your sport. Let’s just hope UFC can remain with the top calibre of fighters in the sport because if gets to the point where all you need is a sense of charisma to get you into big fights or even on the UFC stage then MMA could be in trouble. KSW used to have gimmick fights, they’re now starting to take their product more seriously, hopefully MMA can keep the sensationalism to a minimum and let the action speak for itself.