Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” All MMA Fighters Need To Watch Monday Night Raw’s CM Punk vs. The Rock Exchange
By Joshua Molina
Yes, the outcomes in pro wrestling are scripted, but a lot of what wrestlers do on live TV every week is very real.
And every MMA fighter could learn a lot from watching last night’s historic microphone exchange between CM Punk and The Rock.
In MMA, trash talking before a fight is seen as disrespectful. In pro wrestling, trash talking is a necessity.
Wrestlers have to hype and sell fights by themselves. There’s no ESPN, Yahoo Fox Sports, or other mainstream media covering “the sport,” unless a famous wrestler dies.
Pro wrestling has long been the greatest form of successful direct marketing in the world; fans decades ago stopped waiting on the mainstream sports or entertainment media to cover the sport. Wrestling learned how to sell itself to survive.
And MMA in America needs to start doing the same thing. It won’t always have Dana White around to sell fights or create feuds.
The UFC works for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the biggest is UFC President Dana White. He’s not even a fighter, but he’s the biggest star in the company because he runs his mouth and speaks the truth as he sees it to the masses.
If Anderson Silva, regarded as the sport’s best, walked down the street by himself, not a lot of people would know who he is. White would get mobbed with gawkers and autograph seekers.
But longterm, the UFC needs its fighters to be stars, not White.
Last night Punk, a huge MMA fan, and The Rock, also an MMA fan, probably single-hamdedly sold 100,000 Pay Per View buys for January 27th’s Royal Rumble, where the two will battle for the championship.
Both wrestlers let truth drive their semi-scripted comments. Punk, a true athlete and workhorse, has held the championship for 414 days, long by modern pro wrestling standards.
He’s defending the gold against The Rock, who left wrestling for Hollywood 10 years ago. It’s a story of the common man vs. the successful sellout. It’s street credibilty vs. public accolades.
The truth is that The Rock gets to drop in and “win” matches in the WWE anytime he wants to because he boosts ratings and Pay Per Views. The wrestlers who perform 150 times a year are resentful because they have to “lose” to The Rock or let him have the spotlight anytime he decides to show up
Rather than ignoring that reality, Punk ran with it, and turned supposedly “fake” wrestling into real life drama.
By speaking the truth, he creates realism within a show, which drives people to watch and buy Pay Per Views.
Punk ended his promo with the statement last night:
“You need to understand that your jabs, your insults, they are all kid games. You can’t leave a mark on the champ’s face. Come Royal Rumble, when you step into the ring, understand one thing, your arms are too short to box with GOD!”
Chael Sonnen gets the importance of selling a fight. Somehow his mouth talked his way into back-to-back title shots against two of the best fighters in the world. That’s because Sonnen sells fights on Pay Per View with his mouth – and is rewarded with championship matches.
Look what happened when Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate got into a war of words? Both Rousey and Tate became big stars.
And MMA stars need to understand that tweeting insults is not trash talking, nor does it sell fights. Michael Bisping, for example has mouthed off against Luke Rockhold, boxer Tyson Fury and Vitor Belfort, but he looks more unhinged and reckless than a guy trying to sell a big fight with Belfort.
MMA fighters need to find truth and exploit it to sell fights. Every fighter will benefit and, just like pro wrestlers, MMA fighters need to accept it, as just part of the show.