Thursday, July 16, 2009

A view from outside the "Golden Circle" by Gene Jackson

I've read Greg Anthony's Golden Circle article (in fact I got a chance to read it in advance) on UFC 100 and Dana White's comments on Brock Lesnar and the WWE. I think it was a good column and made some valid points. I just wanted to take the time to offer a few counterpoints to some of those to hopefully spark some discussion on the message board and get some dialogue going amongst everyone on the subject. If for some reason you haven't read this week's Golden Circle take a moment to read it now so what I'm saying makes sense.... go ahead I'll wait..............................................................................................CLICK HERE

Ok, so here's my take on this. Now I'm writing this based on my knowledge of the UFC (I've watched since it's inception in the mid 90's), how my friends who are both wrestling and MMA fans react and based on the views of MMA fans I know who stopped watching (or never watched) wrestling.

Yes there are similarities between pro wrestling and MMA or in this case to be more specific the UFC and the WWE. UFC has prided itself from the beginning on what they do as being 'REAL' which from the get go was taking a pot shot at pro wrestling. While their are many, many fans who watch both the UFC and WWE, at the root most fans who are loyal to one or the other the two are very different. MMA fans have picked UFC over the WWE because they want to see fights that are real atheletic contests between competitors not performers. As the UFC has grown the more mainstream it's become and with that brings more marketing and things that have put them on par (or many cases above) the WWE. Vince hates the comparison saying that the two entities have nothing to do with one another and they are not competition. Dana White hates the comparison more because more wrestling fans are watching and today's cynical pro wrestling fan thinks EVERYTHING is a work, so since they've been "competing" with WWE there's more and more people who swear the UFC is a work and is just "sports entertainment" presented in a new more serious form.

Enter Brock Lesnar, while the man is a former National Champion amatuer wrestler and unquestionably a great athelete the stigma of being a former "WWE Superstar" made him hated by many fans and fighters in the MMA world. If Brock can walk into the octagon and dominate how was this gonna make the UFC look? Would it appear that the "phony wrestler" was tougher than the guys who fought for "real". That's why before he ever opened his mouth Brock Lesnar was already the biggest heel in UFC history. Say what you will about Dana White but he's smart man who has made a boat load of money in marketing the UFC. He's in a win/win scenario here because you've got your loyal MMA fans who are gonna be more compelled to buy pay per views to see the big WWE Superstar get his ass kicked by a "real fighter". Then you've got wrestling fans tuning in in hopes to see Lesnar win or at the very least figure out how they are "working" it.

Now Greg makes a good point about Dana being full of s*** acting all high and mighty like the WWE and it's showmanship is beneath him. The key word there is ACTING, make no mistake Dana White does want to sell tickets and he wants to keep selling tickets. Which means #1: It's not a good idea to have your champion insulting one of your huge corparate sponsors. #2- People are already starting make accusations that perhaps the UFC may be not be on the up and up with things like Greg pointed out Brock getting a title shot with his record being 1-1, and the way everything fell together to happen at the 100th UFC pay per view. So I can see where he might tell Brock to tone it down a bit because it's clearly an act on his part and it probably will sell a few more tickets and pay per views because the fans want to see him humbled (probably in just the manner Iron Sheik describes) but it's not really needed. I think deep down Dana White liked most of that promo at the end of the fight but he's the owner of the company and Brock's the outsider coming in so he's gotta play the babyface here. He puts the heat on Brock and the WWE and distances himself from the controversy to help protect his business. I don't blame him. The truth of the matter is that Brock is gonna have "heat" for a long time in the MMA world whether he acts like a jackass in interviews or not simply because of who he is and where he came from. Not to mention the UFC is not having trouble selling tickets or making money.....check online and see what the ticket prices are for UFC events, they aren't hurting.

So to summarize, I think Lesnar is to MMA, what Mike Tyson was to boxing in the 80's and 90's. He's a big tough guy who knocks people out and creates controversy, he has and will make Dana White a LOT of money, but there's a fine line between fighting and entertainment and I think Brock probably jumped too far onto the entertainment side of it Saturday night so they reigned him back in because if people want to see the WWE, they've got Vince McMahon to provide that to them, meanwhile MMA gets more popular everyday. The fact is if you look around the internet at websites, message boards, etc. NOBODY else elicits as much discussion and interest as Brock Lesnar does after his fights so whatever he's doing he's doing something right and regardless of what Dana White says....that is a good thing.

Again just my 2 cents on the matter, I've enjoyed Greg's Golden Circle columns that he's written and this one was no exception but I did want to provide another viewpoint. If your reading this and you've a take on the subject agreeing or disgreeing with Greg's column or mine, please post it on the kayfabe board cause it's fun to hear other people's thoughts on things.