Opinion: Our Tendency To Overhype
By Jesse Heitz
After much reading over last weekend, and the general current of MMA rumors, which as everyone is well aware, heavily featured a great deal of Brock Lesnar chatter, I have been left in a state of contemplation.
The sport of mixed martial arts seems to be unusually prone to over-hyping fighters, or building expectation levels to such heights that it becomes ensured that such expectations will never be reached. As a whole, the MMA fan base clamors and gossips like little school girls after some prospect, or better yet, a cross-over fighter wins a bout or two, even if it is against less than stellar competition.
We really don’t care about the quality of the competition or wins. If the fighter looks “bad” enough, and if he or she is unbeaten, we’re hooked. We’re always looking for that next big thing, the fighter who is going to upset the balance and challenge the old guard for supremacy.
Sure, as a fan base we have by consensus picked some fighters to become great on occasion, but seldom do our picks actually bear fruit. How many can honestly say that they correctly predicted that Anderson Silva would dominate the UFC after his flying heel-hook loss to Ryo Chonan in Japan? My guess would be not too many of us.
A man that for a brief period embodied our compulsion to find the next big thing was Brock Lesnar. He was the perfect example, a big trash-talking former professional wrestler, with a whole host of amateur wrestling accomplishments and uncanny raw athleticism to boot. Now there’s incessant talk about Lesnar being owed a place in the UFC hall of fame. This is truly an absurd notion. The man was fast-tracked to the UFC Heavyweight Title, having gone 1-1 (2-1 for his career at that point) in the UFC leading up to his championship bout with Randy Couture.
Lesnar was the epitome of over-hyped. For a brief time he was a good fighter, but he was never a great fighter. He retired with a career record of 5-3, making him 4-3 in his UFC career. Simply put, he did not accomplish nearly enough to earn a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame. Yet, the remnants of his over-hyped past are still visible in the select few that continue to rally for his inclusion into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Even more recently, I happened to come across a particularly audacious Bleacher Report article entitled “Can Ronda Rousey be the Michael Phelps for Women’s MMA?” The alarms went off, was Ronda Rousey in danger of being over-hyped? I will maintain that yes, she is. At 6-0, despite wins over impressive competition like Kaufman and Tate, her career is too young to make such lofty predictions.
There can be no doubts that Rousey is quite talented and has the skill set to be a great figure in the sport, but we simply haven’t seen enough to be sure. In her young career she has dominated her opponents in short order. However great her success has been thus far, it’s important to keep in mind that her career has just begun. Before we proclaim her as the up-and-coming greatest female fighter of all-time, we ought to let her establish herself a little bit more. Unless the calamitous fall that follows most over-hyped and unproven fighters is what we truly seek, otherwise a career trajectory like that of Lesnar or even Gina Carano is what might very well happen.