I can’t remember being more disappointed with an ending of a UFC pay per view quite like I was after UFC 131.
I wasn’t disappointed in the quality of fights or poor judging decisions. No, I was bewildered by the post fight interview that featured the bland combination of number one heavyweight contender Junior Dos Santos and current Champion Cain Velasquez.
While they are both two of the premier heavyweights in the division and will undoubtedly leave it all in the Octagon come fight time, neither man took the opportunity to plant the seed of undying anticipation that will last within fans’ minds for the months leading up to their bout.
The issue I’ve always had with the sport of MMA lies in the majority of mixed martial artists’ uncanny inability to sell fights on the microphone.
This continues to baffle me for the sole reason that the UFC and professional sports as a whole rely on the always-unpredictable flow of fans’ disposable income in order to prosper and survive.
Million dollar contracts, sponsorships and signing bonuses would be non-existent if people did not pay to watch athletes compete. UFC President Dana White can talk up a fight to the best of his ability but hearing it from both combatants makes the idea of dropping fifty-five dollars or more on a pay-per-view seem less damaging to my wallet.
I love MMA but what truly makes the sport feel special and what can determine whether a fight will go down as a good or historic matchup rests within the on-the-edge-of-your-seat feeling that resonates inside fans when they get emotionally invested in the participants.
This feeling didn’t fester at all after receiving the two scoops of vanilla that Velasquez and Dos Santos served up in Vancouver this past Saturday night.
Why does this seem to be such a common occurrence in MMA?
An answer could very well be that respect and honor make up the guiding principles of any martial art. The very notion of speaking poorly of your opponent or coming across as grossly over confident would be as if you committed a cardinal sin.
Most mixed martial artists seem so bound to those principles that, for some indirect reason, it causes the best heavyweight in the world to forget that he fights in front of thousands of people in an arena and thousands more on television that paid top dollar for that right.
By no means am I saying that every fighter should start talking trash and make outlandish statements that emulate WWE’s TV-MA ‘’Attitude Era’’ type programming of the late 90’s in order to draw the interest of fans. But fighters should not totally overlook the ‘promo’ aspect of pro-wrestling and makes it their own.
Who’s to say Velasquez can’t congratulate Dos Santos on a job well done after his victory with a hearty handshake and then look him in the eye with confidence and state that the heavyweight title will remain around his waist.
Men like Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart were masters of this art during their Hall of Fame Babyface wrestling careers.
With a blend of confidence, determination and desire these men could cut a promo on their opponents without nary a hint of disrespect in their words that would send fans running to the box office and calling their local cable provider in order to watch their matches over the course of their careers.
It has also been proven that the hero doesn’t need to be squaring off against someone in a black hat in order to gain great interest in a match.
In 1990, WrestleMania 6 featured a championship main event pitting Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior in what was considered a rare good guy versus good guy matchup for WWE’s biggest event of the year. That card drew slightly over 67,000 to what would come to be known as the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Hopefully, fighters like Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos will start infuse more charisma into their interviews that cause fans to circle fight dates on their calendars for years to come.
As I said in the beginning, they are both extremely talented heavyweights. Their fight for the UFC heavyweight title could very well be the best heavyweight fight of the year. We could very well see the start of a string of impressive title defenses by combat sports’ first Mexican Heavyweight Champion or the birth of a new reign by one of the best heavyweight strikers of all time.
It would just be nice to hear that coming from them for a change.