WWE Theatrics Take Center Octagon at UFC 226

Is this the direction in which the UFC is heading?

Written by Jeff Siegel
Posted July 8, 2018 at 1:49PM

Despite the huge disappointment that was the Ngannou vs. Lewis fight, UFC 226 was definitely worth the price of admission. Which in my case was a 40-minute drive to Buffalo Wild Wings where I spent $20 on some pretty shitty wings and a beer.

In the preliminary card, Uriah Hall and Paulo Costa didn’t dissapoint, putting on a hell of an entertaining show. Both are such great fighters, but once Costa landed that left in the second round, we all knew it was over. Kudos to Hall though, with a killer takedown in round two.

Raphael Assuncao and Rob Font went the full distance, but Assuncao came out ahead. He seemed far more focused than Font, and I agree with him that he absolutely deserves a title shot.

On the main card, it was all about Chiesa vs. Pettis. I’m not going to lie. I’m partial to Pettis. I just love his fighting style and Chiesa’s showboating was getting a little tired. Of course, I’d never say that to his face, and to be fair, he’s earned the right to be that cocky. But not last night, after Pettis finished him off with one hell of a triangle.

And of course, the Miocic vs. Cormier bout lived up to the hype, despite it only lasting one round. I was happy to see Cormier take this one. He deserves it. But after the fight, things got weird.

Cormier called Brock Lesnar to the ring to do a bit of taunting. This, after we saw Lesnar walk towards the Octagon before the fight started. It was a beautiful set-up by promoters.

You can see a bit of the song and dance here …

While I get that the UFC is now owned by a talent agency, and those guys know better than anyone how to properly promote their clients and events, there’s a little part of me that worries the UFC is going to go down a path that is more appropriate for the WWE.

Don’t get me wrong. I love WWE. I’ve been watching it since I was in elementary school. Although that was back when it was still the WWF.

In any event, I grew up on that shit. My dad and I used to watch it on the weekends. It filled me with joy then, and he still fills me with joy today. But when it comes to the UFC, I always liked the fact that the only show it put on was the actual fight.

You know, I actually remember back in 2009, when Lesnar defeated Frank Mir at UFC 100. Following the fight, it seemed as if Lesnar turned into a character, flipping off the crowd and insulting the fight’s main sponsor.

Following that bit of theatrics, Dana White said, regarding Lesnar’s comments ...

This isn’t the WWE. I’m not trying to get someone to act all crazy so we’ll do more pay-per-views. That’s not what this sport is about.

But maybe it is, now. Not to the extent of WWE, but enough to make you wonder if the UFC needs to start doing this kind of over-the-top promotion.

Let’s face it: One of the greatest showmen in the world of fighting is Conor McGregor. That dude is so fucking entertaining – both in and out of the Octagon – I could see how the UFC might want to replicate that for other fights. But what Conor does is natural. It comes off as honest and legitimate.

Watching Lesnar shove Cormier, then Cormier shove him back – both of them talking shit – well, it just came off as a bit disengenuous. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a smart marketing move. Those guys are the professionals, not me. But after watching that bit of theatrics last night, I just had to vent.

I’m also a little annoyed the Lesnar’s back after defeating Mark Hunt at UFC 200. The dude failed a steroid test, and it’s like nothing really happened to him. I agree with Mark Hunt that Lesnar should have to hand over the entire purse to him. There’s definitely a double standard for Lesnar, and everyone knows it. Yes, watching him fight is exciting as hell. He is, without a doubt, one of the best fighters around. But honestly, this kind of double standard chips away at the UFC’s credibility.

Of course, in all fairness, I’m not a professional sports writer. I’m actually a finance writer who just happens to love MMA. So perhaps there’s a lot more going on here than I’m aware of. But from the point of view of a nothing more than a guy who loves the UFC, I do hope that last night’s pre-programmed shit-talking segment was a one-time thing.

To be fair, however, even if this becomes more of a regular thing, I’ll still watch. Because, UFC …