Alex Davis: Hype always has been part of fight game – but no need to be jerks about it

Looking to attract fans and hype up your image has always been part of the fight game.

Even before MMA, Muhammad Ali talked smack about everything and everyone. I remember many different entertaining fighters who would put on a display before the fight. Who remembers Genki Sudo and his theatrics? They were entertaining, they were positive and they had a meaning to them.

And who remembers when Melvin Manhoef would come in held on a leash by his trainer? How about James Te Huna,  when he and his corners came out to a UFC fight dressed as the Men in Black, dancing and everything?

In the UFC, Rebook put an end to those things.

And then there have always been the talkers. I remember I was at a Cage Warriors event in England back in the day. Ex-UFC champ Michael Bisping fought and caught his opponent in an armbar. He already talked crap way back then. And it was simply him; he wasn’t forcing anything, he just said what came into his head. It was natural. Or Phil Baroni? The “New York Bad Ass” had always been arrogant. Or Chael Sonnen, who was always articulate and intelligent – even when he talk badly about Brazil. And, of course, UFC lightweight champ Conor McGregor: universal smack master.

But not everyone can do this in a smart and intelligent way.

We are starting to see guys try to pick up from McGregor’s example. They pick up the mic after the fight and act like complete jerks. All you hear is rubbish coming out of them. They are simply trying to build hype, get their names out there, get a connection with the public. But I see this is starting to go in a very negative direction.

These guys are watched by millions of people, including millions of kids and teenagers. As in every other sport, they have big followings. The kids tend to emulate them – to talk, walk and dress like they do. Now I wonder: Is this how we want this sport to go mainstream? As a bunch of punks cursing each other?

Is this really the way to make the sport of MMA go to the next level?

MMA is still considered a bloodsport by many – “human cockfighting.” Those who understand it know that it is, really, a combat sport engaged in by very high level masters in the art of fighting. Of course, as a combat sport, there will always be animosity between opponents. They are going to fight you, you know. But it seems to me that we are overdoing our attempts to gain recognition in a very negative way. I think that each individual has his own charisma. Each person and fighter is different.

“Brazilian Cowboy” Alex Oliveira can’t speak enough English to say bad things about anyone even if he wanted to. But he comes out dancing and happy, so people love him. And how about Junior Albini? He isn’t even trying. He came out unintentionally with his shorts rolled up like diapers, but he made the headlines.

I loved what UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas said after she took the title from Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217: enough negativity. UFC middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre is one of the biggest stars in the sport, but I have never seen him being disrespectful toward anything.

They are proof that you do not need to be a jerk to promote yourself.

Sure, as I said before: This is fighting. We get it. You do not have to be in love with your opponents, actual or future. But if your sole modus operandi is to badmouth people, most likely you will end up having an adverse effect on your image. I am looking down the road and I can foresee a time when we will get tired of this. When it will go full circle and we will again appreciate athletes for what they can do inside the ring.

A little entertainment will always be welcome. We are all humans, after all. But how about putting some imagination into it, as it’s been done ages before our time?

Alex Davis is a lifelong practitioner of martial arts and a former Brazilian judo champion. A founding member of American Top Team, Davis currently oversees the careers of a number of prominent Brazilian fighters, including Edson Barboza, Luiz Cane, Rousimar Palhares, Antonio Silva and Thiago Tavares, among others. Davis is a frequent contributor to MMAjunkie and shares his current views on the sport built through his perspectives that date back to the Brazilian roots of modern MMA.

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Source: MMA Junkie