Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Anderson Silva celebrates after defeating Chael Sonnen during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
In the official promotional trailer for the UFC 152: "Jones vs. Belfort" event, one of the first images you see is of Vitor Belfort's face with large white text surrounding him touting him as a former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion. "The Phenom" is also the only one of the six fighters featured in the promo who is allowed to speak for himself.
It's as though his charge is to convince every single one of us watching that he has a legitimate chance at defeating Jon Jones, despite the incredibly long odds against him. The problem?
No one is buying it.
Of course they're not buying it. It's damn near false advertisement. Belfort never won the UFC heavyweight championship, he won a tournament back at UFC 12 in 1997. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, that was the first night Joe Rogan worked a UFC event and Un-Break My Heart by Toni Braxton was the number one song in the United States. Hell, Jones had yet to hit double digits in age.
Seven years later, in 2004, Belfort "won" the light heavyweight title by slicing Randy Couture's eye in 49 seconds. The immediate rematch took place months later and Couture won the belt back by far more legitimate means.
You can simply take a gander at Belfort's wins and losses to see how well he does when he takes on the elite in mixed martial arts (MMA). All this to say, the Brazilian doesn't really have any shot at winning this fight and if he does, it will be a miracle on par with the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.
That's why, let's face it, it kind of sucks that UFC is even attempting to convince us to purchase the show with the idea in mind that Belfort has a chance. It gets even worse the next month at UFC 153 when Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva moves up to 205-pounds to take on Stephan Bonnar.
Yes, that Stephan Bonnar. The guy who would only come out of a retirement he wouldn't commit to if a fight came along against a guy with more Twitter followers. Silva just so happens to fit the bill.
Bonnar, like Belfort, has no chance in hell.
Now wouldn't it be nice if the UFC didn't lie to us in some half-baked attempt at presenting him as a legitimate challenger?
I'm not asking for much here. A little honesty goes a long way in life, and while it goes against promotional protocol under most circumstances, this isn't exactly a normal situation.
Start with the obvious: No one wanted this. It's not like UFC put this together for any reason other than necessity. After the cancellation of UFC 151, there was no way in hell they were going to do that again. So when Jose Aldo and Quinton Jackson both went down with injuries, they reached with both arms and brought back the pound-for-pound greatest fighter on Earth with one and an aging and barely relevant fighter with the other.
Less than ideal? Sure. But is there a way to spin this to make fans want to tune in? Absolutely.
Again, honesty is the key. The very first time UFC President Dana White even attempts to tell anyone Bonnar has any sort of legitimate chance at winning this fight, it will be a massive mistake, a clear credibility killer. You could argue White hardly has any credibility to begin with but his word is the law in MMA and more fans than you would think take him at it.
Just look at Jones and his predicament after the smear campaign against him.
Instead, White should simply sell this fight for what it is -- a chance to watch the greatest fighter in the history of MMA, a true artist of violence, create another masterpiece inside the cage.
The thrill of competition isn't the only reason fans tune in to the UFC. Sure, the promotion is at its best when it can offer an even match-up between the sport's elite but let's not pretend like a large portion of the audience won't tune in simply to watch someone take the beating of a lifetime.
That's exactly what awaits "The American Psycho" when he travels behind enemy lines in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Oct. 13. And that's exactly what White should sell to his fans.
Tune in next month, folks, cause the best in the world is going to put on a show you won't want to miss. And hey, on the one-in-one-billion chance that Bonnar wins, you'll get to see the biggest upset in MMA history.
Just don't try to tell us there's a bigger chance of that than there actually is, please.