Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The UFC Hype Machine

What do Mark Hominick, Jake Shields and Yushin Okami all have in common?  Well for one they are all #1 contenders for UFC titles in their respective weight classes.  More importantly than that however what they all have in common is that despite the glowing praise from Dana White, Joe Rogan and others associated with the UFC they have no chance to beat Jose Aldo, Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva.

This phenomenon is what I like the call the 'UFC Hype Machine.'

The basic function of the UFC Hype Machine is get fans to believe that fighters, while excellent in their own right, have a chance of beating the best fighters on the planet.  That's exactly what Aldo, St. Pierre and Silva are, they are pound for pound three of best fighters in the world and yet for some reason fans, including myself, always seem to doubt them heading into a fight.

If you watch The Ultimate Fighter then no doubt you have seen the new promo ad for UFC 129.  The ad features Jake Shields in a locker room as Joe Rogan does voice over work listing all of Shields' best victories.  The purpose of the ad is to get fans to believe that Jake Shields has a chance in hell of beating Georges St. Pierre on April 30th.  If you watch Mixed Martial Arts at all then you know that this is just not possible.  Shields has never faced anyone half as good as GSP and he will no doubt get severely outclassed when they meet.

Jake Shields is the latest example of the UFC hype machine at work.  When the fight was first announced months ago I remember public reaction being 'he doesn't stand a chance against Georges St. Pierre.'  Yet slowly but surely doubt starts to creep into the minds of fans and they start to believe that Shields might actually stand a chance, which is exactly what the UFC wants you to think.

The Hype Machine has been doing its work since long before Jake Shields arrived.  Think back on Georges St. Pierre's last few fights.  Going into each one of them the message from the UFC was always the same, "fighter X is the most dangerous opponent Georges has ever faced."  They even said that about Josh Koscheck, who the first time he fought GSP at UFC 74 got absolutely man handled.  Koscheck, Dan Hardy, BJ Penn, Thiago Alves and Jon Fitch.  These are the men that GSP has not only beaten but absolutely dominated.

Even when it comes to Anderson Silva, the best fighter in the world in the weakest division in the UFC, the Hype Machine is still extremely effective.  Before he fought Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, Thales Leites and Patrick Cote there were fans who thought he could be in trouble. Yet other than Sonnen (who was on steroids and Silva had a cracked rib) they have all looked pathetic barely posing a challenge.  Two of those guys (Leites and Cote) aren't even in the UFC anymore.  Yet when Anderson faces Yushin Okami you better believe fans will think Okami has a chance.

How many fights will Anderson Silva need to dominate before fans finally realize he cannot be beaten?  I mean the man hasn't lost since 2006.  Georges St. Pierre hasn't lost a round 2007.  Let me repeat so it really sinks in.  He has not lost a single round in over 5 years of fighting.  Yet Jake Shields (who is often in bad positions and barely pulls of victories) is somehow a serious threat? Jose Aldo hasn't lost since 2005, that's 6 years people, but Mark Hominick is being given a "punchers chance."

I'm not saying that the UFC is being dishonest in the way they promote fights.  No the point is that fans keep falling for the same thing (I include myself here).  We as fans watch Countdown and Primetime, we see the promos and we start to think, "yeah I could see him pulling off the upset."  That is the power of the UFC Hype Machine.  It takes rational MMA fans and gets us to completely disregard all the fights we have ever watched.  All the evidence of domination we have witnessed in the past is forgotten in an instant and that's when the UFC has us right where they want us.

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