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Many, many moons ago, there was a day when even the most wise and knowledgable of us Maniacs would wake up on Saturday mornings, crawl out of bed in our jam-jams and tune in to the tube tv to watch us some wrasslin'. Whether you were of the era including Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, Andre the Giant, or John Cena, you always made time to marvel at the spectacle of two men that were invincible at times and able to break free from a near 3 count after succumbing to beatings no mere mortal could recover from so quickly.
Life was simple then. Our laundry was done for us, our breakfast was sugared as much as one could get away with and childhood chums would call your home to ask not if you 'were home', but if you 'can come out to play'. Picking on your siblings for enjoyment was mandatory, even if you knew there was stiff repercussions to follow. But, all good things must come to an end.
That's where growing up comes in.Older, wiser and slightly more mature, we had to realize that just as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy were made to help us cope with our childhood lives and leave a sense of magic in our daily adventures, so to was it time to understand that our beloved wrestling was nothing more than a very physical play being put on. A play in which the actors were reinacting a grueling, choreographed fight scene. Yes, some of us cried once we found out about the long lived lie we were included in, while others pouted or pleaded their case angrily to no avail. A last, the damage was done.
Fast forward to today some of us 'hardcore' mixed martial arts fans still watch the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), while others were long done with an 'entertainment' sport when the real deal was readily available. I for one, fall in to the latter. For the life of me I see no reason to watch something fake when the real version of it is available. My only true thought I could ever get behind is that people may still watch as they find it funny, and it could pass the time if nothing else is on. It can be impressive to see a 225lb man doing backflips from 4 feet off the ground from a turnbuckle only to find his mark had incredibly found the once non existent energy to roll out of the way. Or, to poke fun at the fact that wrestler's still haven't figured out that the science rule we learned (an object in motion must stay in motion) doesn't mean you cannot stop running once thrown to the ropes unless you meet a 'clothesline'.
In any event we are now finally facing a time where the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is starting to be more and more recognized. With the recent signing to have FOX continue to show UFC events, the public eye is getting larger. Due to this, it is very unsettling to me that with such a critical time for the UFC to be noticed and respected as a legit sport we are seemingly going to sit back and watch idly while the likes of one Chael Sonnen makes mixed martial arts look no more than a gimmick at times.
The UFC on FOX 2 will take place on January 29th and will be broadcast in millions of homes. When the cameras are rolling UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen, will apparently be making his entrance to the cage accompanied by WWE wrestler C.M Punk. Now I admittedly have no idea who that individual is, nor do I know if he will enter alongside Chael all decked out in WWE attire acting loud and flamboyantly. I do, however, assume the worst knowing Sonnen.
Chael Sonnen has established a huge following in a short period of time by working the media. Sonnen is brilliant in this aspect and I have not come here to negate that. It is clear that what he is doing is working wonders as he is perhaps the most talked about fighter to not be currently holding a belt in the UFC. That still doesn't mean I have to like it. Though I can admire what Sonnen is doing, it still resignates the fact that we have to reach a larger audience to allow the sport to continue to grow, but does that need to be done by adding a sense of acting in to the sport, or can it simply grow by staying true and simply being available for viewing on a bigger television network?
My fear, is that with the success Chael Sonnen is experiencing by acting and preparing dialogue for the media and viewers at home, it will result in more up and comers to not truly be themselves when the camera's are focused on them. With Chael Sonnen's success at milking his outlets to turn them into revenue for himself though, can you really blame other fighters for wanting the same? How long before Dana White is telling these gents to milk it for the camera? Is he already? It's of no secret that Dana White has met with the owner of the WWE and marketing wizard Vince MacMahon. It's also no secret that he very much enjoyed the following former WWE star Brock Lesnar's mouth and recognition brought to the table.
Dana White is a lot of things (which I won't get in to right here and now), but he is certainly not an idiot and he definitely is well aware what guys are bringing in the benjamins.
As a fan of the UFC and wanting to see it succeed on the big stage, I am scared to death what cost may come with the success. If guys like Sonnen continue to prove to be extremely profitable from their acting antics, it is only a matter of time before others follow suit and ham it up for the people at home. When that happens it takes away a ton of legitimacy for me and changes the way I view the sport. If we can keep the circus down to one individual/ring leader, I can bare with it. If we soon see other WWE faces entering with other fighters or anything of the sort, the true sports fans that follow the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB will quickly take notice and question if this is something they want to invest time in. Dispute that if you wish, but I firmly believe that the idea of getting on board with FOX is to gain the viewership of 'real sports fans', and this could prove vital to some fickle new viewers who will see antics like a fake wrestler entering with a real trained mixed martial artist as a 'joke'.
What do you guys think? I'm sure this could be viewed as making a mountain out of a mole hill, but be it as it may, I for one am beginning to me more and more concerned with one of the paths that may be chosen to proceed for the marketing of the UFC.
Let's hear it fellers... And Sarah..