Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting
During the weigh-ins for The Ultimate Fighter 14 (TUF) Finale a couple of days ago, a shower of boos rained down on Michael Bisping when he stepped out from backstage and made his way to the scale. His opponent, Jason Miller, didn't end up doing "The Count" any favors when he encouraged those in attendance to keep vocalizing their disapproval of the TUF 3 winner.
Bisping responded in kind and said he didn't care about not getting any love, promised to beat Jason Miller and told everyone that he didn't much care from them. At least that's what one would expect from a cultured, civilized Brit like Bisping. The actual response was the exact opposite, completely vile and filled to the brim with contempt. With a few words that aren't fit to print, the Wolfslair fighter made his true feelings known and didn't bother to mince words.
It seems "The Count" has been taking some correspondence courses while in Manchester from the "Chael Sonnen School of Stacking That Paper" as of late. While he's always been a bit of a loudmouth and exuded an overall cockiness, his pre-fight trash talk of Jorge Rivera and last night's opponent Miller kicked that attitude into overdrive.
And I couldn't be happier.
Maybe it's the pro wrestling fan inside me but I love the way Sonnen and Bisping are selling their fights nowadays. The casual fan will either want to see them get their comeuppance or gravitate towards the braggarts. For one reason or another, people will tune in to see the fight.
I can also understand some people's fear that walking the thin line between sports and sports entertainment will lump mixed martial arts (MMA) in with the Hulk Hogans and Steve Austins of the world but MMA has one thing going for it that pro wrestling does not: it is real and people know it's real.
I'm not a conspiracy nut, I don't think there's a secret cabal behind the UFC, fixing fights in an effort to determine which fighters win and get promoted. That's simply not true. While there has been instances of collusion and fight fixing inside the MMA cage and ring, there hasn't been any evidence of that in the Las Vegas promotion aside from flimsy, "Look at the way he fell down!" arguments that only deserve space in the lowliest of internet forums.
That being said, the comparison to WWE simply doesn't hold up. A little bit of showmanship to grease the wheels in fight promotion isn't a bad thing. One of the biggest fights already announced for 2012 involves longtime welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and one of the poster boys for trash talking Nick Diaz. Should Sonnen get past Mark Munoz, a rematch with Anderson Silva will do monster business.
But talking smack only gets one so far. They have to be able to back it up. Bisping did exactly that last night when he battered and absolutely demolished "Mayhem" over the course of three rounds. UFC President Dana White even tweeted it was the most one-sided fight he had ever seen. Besides the fact that he obviously didn't see Johnny Bedford's shellacking of Louis Gaudinot, you would be hard pressed to argue with White over his statement.
The first round was close but Miller gassed badly in the second while "The Count" was beginning to find his form. By the middle of the third round, the former "Bully Beatdown" host was nursing a cut on top of a nasty mouse under his left eye. He looked visibly exhausted and was offering zero offense and next to no defense.
From pillar to pillar, post to post, Bisping throughly dominated his opponent and made good on his promise to "smash [Miller's] face in" while also earning the ire of a ton of fans who would've loved to have seen a repeat of UFC 100. Those fans didn't get their chance last night. And as long as "The Count" keeps winning, they won't but they'll keep watching in hopes that someone will knock Bisping down a peg or two.
Because just like he said at the weigh-ins, Bisping doesn't care about not getting love. He only cares about getting eyeballs.
And it's working.