If you watched last night's episode of UFC "Primetime," made it all the way to the end and clicked off the television thinking, "Meh," then I worry about you. Not as a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA), but as a human being.
Last night was not about combat sports, it was about the people who populate it.
If you missed it, click here. I'll see you back here in about 22 minutes. For the rest of you, I'm sure you'll agree that "Primetime" did an admirable job of introducing fight fans to Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche, the headliners of this month's UFC 157 pay-per-view (PPV) event scheduled for Feb. 23, 2013 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
The "Rousey vs. Carmouche" main event is not a gimmick.
It may have come off that way in the days following UFC President Dana White's initial announcement. After all, ZUFFA doesn't really have much of a women's division and the goal as a promotion is to capitalize on the "Rowdy" crossover success enjoyed by Rousey.
From a marketing standpoint, she's about as hot as they come.
The good news is, her success has not been manufactured. Not only has she terrorized the ranks of the 135-pound division, she's also a bona fide athlete, medaling in Judo at the 2008 Olympic games. Is her fight against Carmouche a mismatch?
But this is sports, and who doesn't love a good underdog story? I do. I also love stories about people overcoming adversity. That's the essence of fighting! Carmouche, to date, continues to try to overcome the stigma attached to her homosexuality while Rousey struggles to come to terms with the suicide of her father.
"People love to ask me about it all the time, because doesn't it make a great story? I feel terrible talking about it. I feel like I'm prostituting his memory for my own career gain. I feel like a fucking asshole."
Regrettably, fame works on the barter system.
That means the spotlight shining on your current accomplishments is usually bright enough to chase away the shadows covering your past -- and all the good and bad that come with it. Whether or not fans and media are privy to that information is a debate for another day.
But Rousey is right, the story of her personal tragedy has worked to her advantage.
It's helped humanize the UFC 157 main event, something no amount of promotional hype could have accomplished. Will it make fans more likely to buy it? I can't say for sure, but if nothing else, it should at least to convince them to respect it.