Monday, July 13, 2009
Brock Lesnar: The Next Big Thing...again.
Today, the sports world is all aghast with the antics of UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, because after he broke Frank Mir's face, he flipped off the fans, insulted a sponsor, spit into a camera, and taunted his challenger. He even told us he was going to bang his wife before the night was over. UFC Owner Dana White wasn't exactly pleased with what said and done, and made Lesnar apologize before the media. He can't have Lesnar acting like that in public.
At least, that's what he wants you to think. The truth is, this is exactly what Dana White wants and needs for UFC.
The belief is that UFC is trying to distance itself from professional wrestling, which is what all of the mainstream commentators would have you think. They want you to think that any similarity to professional wrestling would turn them into a joke. But I watched UFC back when it wasn't that popular. I watched back when Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie ruled. And the age of 16, even I could see that UFC was going to start moving towards what wrestling was doing.
Yes, the fights were real, but the UFC was BORING. Yeah, it's noble for these fighters to have respect for each other and shake hands. It's good for them to be all stoic and have good clean contests.
But that doesn't sell pay-per-views. The Ultimate Fighting Championship, however you want to spin it, is a bloodsport. You can add rules to it and dial it back some, but at the end of the day, most of these men are crazy. You've gotta be at least halfway crazy to agree to do this. The fans know this, and the crazier these men look and act, the more popular they are. Look at Chuck Liddell. Look at Quentin "Rampage" Jackson. Look at Kimbo Slice. Even going back to Tank Abbott, these men are not wrapped too tight. And yet, they're some of the most popular fighters.
Crazy is good, because it makes people watch, and most importantly, it makes people BUY. Mike Tyson's skills had clearly diminished when he got out of jail, but his fights still brought in big numbers.
So Brock Lesnar talking crazy and talking out of his head really isn't bad for the sport of MMA. After all, here we sit, Monday morning, talking about Brock Lesnar. The only place he messed up was insulting a sponsor. Everything is else is good press. People wonder if the fans hate Brock Lesnar, but if I'm in charge, I WANT the fans to hate Brock Lesnar. It's basic promotion, something the wrestling world figured out a long time ago.
People didn't pay to see Ric Flair because they respected his wrestling acumen; they paid to see him because they wanted to see Ricky Steamboat, or Sting, or Dusty Rhodes smack that smug look off of his face. They hated Ric Flair so much that they just wanted to witness his downfall firsthand. Same with the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics, the New England Patriots. People always watch the ones they hate, because they want to see them lose. And Brock Lesnar is cut from the same mold.
This guy is huge, he's quick, he's strong, and he improves from fight to fight. He's almost unstoppable, just from his size and speed alone. You can't punch with him. You can't out wrestle him. You can't tire him out. And he's an asshole. Plus, he came directly from WWE. Vince McMahon's giant wrestling circus. These guys can't fight, because they're just punk wrestlers, right? Hey, Brock, you're getting into a real fight this time. These aren't pulled punches. The UFC fans hated this guy from jump and they were willing to pay just to see him humiliate himself.
But then, he started dominating. Sure, he's only had five UFC fights and lost one. But other than the first fight against Frank Mir, he hasn't even been slowed down. And in the lead up to the second Mir fight, Mir talked trash. He made fun of Lesnar's WWE past. And that just made Brock lash out right back. This guy just beat one of your UFC heroes. And he let you know about it.
It's not like you need the fans to hate someone to be successful, but if you have one, you don't turn him away, because it's like a license to print money. When was the last time the UFC had a flashpoint like this guy? Brock Lesnar is a bigger heel in the UFC than he ever was in wrestling.
Yeah, it's all a lot like wrestling, but so is the UFC presentation. It didn't always look like that. It used to be closer to boxing. Now, they market wild personalities, everyone has loud, personalized theme music, darkened arenas, laser shows? Where do you think they got it from?
Just because it came from wrestling doesn't mean it's bad. And I don't think anyone's going to confuse UFC with WWE, because any idiot can see that the fights are real. Lesnar egging on the crowd is only going to help. It's not like one wrestling promo from him is going to destroy UFC's credibility. This is not the way to a ruined credibility for them. UFC will be fine. And they will benefit from this. In fact, if Lesnar keeps on winning like this, I guarantee you that any show he headlines will earn more than any other show. Not because he's the champion, but just because fans hate him.
And there are two fighters on the horizon that UFC must have. One in the MMA demigod, Fedor Emilianenko. And the other is another former WWE wrestler (and currently signed to TNA), Bobby Lashley. They're the only men who can challenge Lesnar. Fedor is simply the best fighter in the world. Lashley is almost exactly a clone of Lesnar. Either would be a perfect match-up for the champion. And both of them have name recognition outside of UFC.
You think that 1.5 million buyrate was great for UFC? Either of those guys will get it up to 2. Maybe even 3.
So let Dana White con you into thinking this isn't what he wants for UFC. He has to say that. But behind closed doors, that man couldn't have planned it any better if he were Vince McMahon himself.