People complain about “pro-wrestling bullshit” invading MMA, but it’s been demonstrated over and over again: personality will get you places in the fight game. We’ve pointed this out before, like when we advised Jon Fitch on how to ensure a title shot. Some fighters are talked about incessantly on forums, at lunch tables, and in interviews because they’ve managed to capture the interest of fans, and many times it is because of things that they have done or said while not in the cage.
Come on in and let’s talk about archetypes, drama, and personality. Because there’s only so many technique videos out there.
Tank Abbott, Tito Ortiz, So Very Many Others: “The Bad Boy”
When Ortiz began calling himself “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy”, Tank was all like, “I ain’t dead yet.”
Tito Ortiz pioneered the role of the heel in the UFC, and helped carry the company through lean times with outstanding promotional work, including a long-standing feud with Ken Shamrock‘s Lion’s Den that was better than anything being scripted in the WWE. Then Tito went about as full-on “bad boy” as it gets, by wifing a porn star. Sure, it takes a tough guy to be a champ in the UFC, but sticking your tongue in that particular holiest of holies? That’s some next-level bad boy shit, right there.
Note: It’s popular for fighters to project the bad boy image, but it’s a tough road to walk. James Irvin got himself a bad boy tattoo, and things really haven’t gone well for him. Something to keep in mind.
Josh Koscheck, Michael Bisping, et al: The Asshole
Note here the difference between “Asshole” and “Heel”. A heel is a dastardly, evil person who hates fans, and basks in the uneven glow of insults and epithets he encounters whenever he performs. An asshole brings Bud Light to a party, snags a Heineken from the fridge, and asks if your sister is DTF … but then he acts offended if anyone acts offended.
Kos and Bisping genuinely believe that they are good guys, and neither of them understand why everyone has such a goddamn problem with them. (See: any episode of TUF in which they appear.) A true asshole is mystified when faced with others’ distate of his assholishness.
I’ll just leave this right here…
Miguel Torres, Tom Lawlor, Jason Miller, et al: The Jester
Generally active via social media, these jokers engage in various styles of goofiness. Jesters tend to be fond of elaborate fight entrances entrances, featuring choreography, extras, props, and/or elaborate costumes. (Forrest Griffin should get a mention here too, since he was a pretty funny guy until he was perpetually crabby.)
For maximum hilarity, combine “The Jester” with “The Asshole” and agitate.