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It’s Time to Play the Game: Examining Triple H’s Smack Talk About the UFC

I did it at least nine times. How else would I inherit his empire?

By Jason Moles

Last week MMA Fighting reported that Paul Levesque, better known as Triple H, real life son-in-law of WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, said he thought the UFC should evolve like the pro wrestling juggernaut has, “because quite frankly sometimes the fights are long and boring, guys lying around and sometimes the fights are fast and over in five seconds.”

Is “The Game” right? Does it matter? Before we pass judgment on his comments, let’s take a quick look at a few specific examples he gave for his opinion, then weigh the pros and cons of leaning too far towards Entertainment or Winning.

[They should] give more of an entertainment standpoint. Give more form; they just have fighters who walk in in T-shirts and shorts and just stand there and then they fight and then they win and then they go ‘thanks, I’d like to thank my sponsors’ and then they leave. The whole world was up in arms when Brock was flipping people off and was cussing at the beer company because they didn’t give him any money. The whole world was talking about it. They couldn’t wait to see him get beat up. And then he did well, and he beat some guys and then people jump on his bandwagon going ‘Brock’s the greatest.’

It appears that Hunter has taken a few too many chair shots over the years and has become quite confused. You see, his comments do not reflect a desire to see the UFC evolve — rather he would have them take a page out of Vinnie Mac’s script and add a bunch of Chael Sonnen is Sick of Fighters Creating Fake Drama to Sell a Fight…Wait. What?!!” href=”” target=”_blank”>fabricated drama to invoke human interest so the audience will become emotionally invested in the product.

His only valid point was the comments made about boring fights. Would you not agree? Dana White certainly does. Remember that interview with when they asked him if it’s a fighter’s job to entertain or just win fights.

Sure. But you’ve got to be exciting! If all we cared about was guys winning fights, you know how many wrestlers could just go lay on a guy? There are tons of wrestlers that could do that. I don’t know. Do you think we’d be talking about all these big plans and all the exciting things that we’re going to be doing if that was the case? I mean, that’s a pretty stupid question. If somebody really asks that question, you’d have to look at them and go, “Are you stupid?” Seriously, it’s a really dumb question.

Hear that Mr. Game? You’re preaching to the choir.

Why do most fighters fight? Money. How can they make more money? Winning, bonuses, and sponsorships. How do these streams of cash grow? Higher TV Ratings and increased PPV buy rates — essentially, you need more people watching your product. How do you get more people to watch your product? Be exciting, which means, according to the average MMA fan, you need to KO your opponent or get them to tap out. Whatever you do, it has to be fast-paced and explosive. Easy enough, right?

What happens if a fighter’s goal is solely to entertain the crowd and look for the Knockout of the Night bonus? We laugh at his attempts to defeat better opposition — guys who actually have a gameplan and well-rounded skill-set, and know more than what they learned in Mike Tyson’s ‘Punch-Out!’. Does this hypothetical slugger have a tendency to give us highlight-reel material from time to time? Sure. But you won’t see him in the main event anytime soon [Ed. note: well...] because although he’s an exciting guy to watch, his skills can only take him so far up the contender ladder. So much for that cash flow increasing.

Conversely, we have “safe” fighters whose only objective is to win, good, bad, or ugly…and it’s usually the latter two. When these guys fight, the numbers don’t suddenly jump off the charts. No one says, “I am pumped to see Jon Fitch fight again,” since the only thing he seems to care about is getting a ‘W’ and that paper. If he only understood that laying someone the eff out would garner him much more money than merely violating him for fifteen minutes, we’d all be winners.

So how do we deal with this contradiction? Should fighters fight to get a win at all costs, even if it means hearing a roar of boos as you smother your opponent for three rounds, or should you call your shot as you step up to the plate, swinging for the fences the entire bout hoping you drop him before he drops you?

So since Triple H brought it up, let’s talk about “evolution,” and what it means in this sport. The UFC has grown and adapted to the changes in our culture by adding rules, protective gear, and a referee. As the organization continued to grow, it became more corporate, breaking away from its blue collar, blood-thirsty past. Dana White and the Fertittas will continue to allow the UFC to evolve, just as the sport of mixed martial arts itself did. Remember when it was a fight between a karate guy and a boxer, fighting to see which style was superior? Now we have guys who can do it all — or at least all that is necessary to eke out a win — squaring off to determine which fighter, not style, is king.

In the end, the only thing that matters is that everyone is satisfied. White wants to be satisfied with the success of the UFC which is ultimately dependent upon its fighters, who want to be satisfied with what they are paid, which largely depends on the fans — who really just want to be satisfied with how enjoyable the fights are. So I just have to ask, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!

Cagepotato Comments

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Votchogan-1991- August 9, 2012 at 4:35 am
I get this guy, or atleast his frustration, rememeber how it feels when you were a kid and your parents took over the TV and tuned in to something that's not cartoons, It was pretty shitty! right, cause you don't understand shit about it!, same thing with Mr. "put my hand on top of the sledge hammer before hitting some one with it cause I'm a bad ass" right here. It's always entertataining for those who understand mma!
roughouse- September 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm
And to take off a little of what Large Midget was saying, before MMA existed there was only wrestling. Then one day they decided, you know what, if we "fix" these matches and build up drama we can make ten times as much money. And guess what, they were right. Now you have MMA coming up in a little of the same situation that guys like Frank Gotch and Ed Lewis found themselves in back in the 40's. We can win every fight, but if people arent interested in paying to see it then it doesnt matter who's the best fighter. To grow an audience you need to make the product accessible and I think that's the UFC's next major hurdle. To the VAST majority of people, not those of us on here, it is still "two guys laying one each other for 15 minutes."
roughouse- September 19, 2011 at 10:33 pm
People who like UFC watch UFC and people who like WWE watch WWE. I love MMA and Pro Wrestling and I watch neither companies shows. I think what HHH was saying is mostly true, UFC needs to think long term. The fights are significantly less violent and fighters are fighting much more often than ever before and as a result a lot of the "names" in UFC are making movies and not locking chokeholds. Sooner or later everything needs to evolve and while that flame is burning bright in UFC now, management needs to take steps to make sure it burns just as bright in a decade.
elksnyper- September 19, 2011 at 8:29 pm
Pride Rules minus headkicks. All this goes away.
GistoftheFist- September 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm
There are a couple tag team MMA matches on Youtube.
MMAposeur- September 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm
I dunno, I think he's onto something here. Hear me out, guys.
Tag-team MMA (the Nog bros v Rashad/Lesnar?!?!), MMA Rumble Royales (Black House v Jackson v AKA), MMA ladder matches!! Holy shit, we have been missing out!!!
fatbellyfrank- September 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm
@ large midget, that might be your point of view, but I would rather watch two no names fight to the best of their ability in a real match than some roided out "superstars" who can only work to a basic script and apart from size reallistically have no fighting ability , Bobby lashley springs to mind
fatbellyfrank- September 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm
Why is a second rate actors opinion worth anything?? fuck off back to fantasyland preparation H
LargeMidget- September 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Wow, nobody gets it do they? HHH is 100% right.

If all you had to do was win fights, Jim Miller (uncharismatic and uninteresting, with no gimmick) wouldn't need to win 8 times in a row for a title shot, and Dan Hardy would need more than 3 (very charismatic)

Nobody really gives a shit about two random joe shmoes in a cage fight, that's why we don't find it necessary to watch every fight on every card. We have FAVORITES for one reason or another.

All Trips is saying is that the UFC will be more successful and will be a more entertaining sport to watch if it embraces it's similarities to pro wrestling rather than try to distance itself.

I mean, who'd want to play a fighting game with only one character and no special moves? HHH is right, and MMA fans are in denial.
Fried Taco- September 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm
For all you wrestler fans, I found the Joe Warren shirt on sale. Hurry before ReX snatches them all up!
intercept440- September 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm
well sumbish, you are indeed correct.. My Bad Gist , it was amsterdam heavy...
i must not have gotten enough sleep thats fucking 4 comments below yours.
wow i need a vacation
GistoftheFist- September 19, 2011 at 11:18 am
Actually Intercept440, if you payed attention you'd notice I never said anything about knees to the head, you mistook someone else's comment for mine. I know knees to a downed opponent's head are illegal, I don't need you to explain how UFC rules work.
unmutual- September 19, 2011 at 11:15 am
I was a pro wrestling fan from 1975 till 2000 and I am currently a MMA and boxing fan. I think HHH has it exactly backwards. Pro wrestling should learn from the success of MMA and go back to the future to the psuedo sport era that came before "sports entertainment" turned wrestling into a bad sitcom.

Nowadays the performers in the ring don't even try to make it look realistic. You have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy pro wrestling and today's wrestling makes that impossible.

It would be a great thing if Zuffa ever got into pro wrestling and put Vince McMahon out of business. Hell, it would be a great thing if anyone put McMahon out of business.
KarmaAteMyCat- September 19, 2011 at 11:13 am
Define stalling? Are you going to call Jon Fitch a staller? because you don't like his style of fighting? AKA the Dump and Hump? and if that is the case then No, fuck yellow cards because Jon Fitch if you recall on an earlier posted cagepotato article has the most punches landed fighter wise in the UFC.
KarmaAteMyCat- September 19, 2011 at 11:11 am
For the record Cagepotato I am always EXCITED to see Jon Fitch Fight and That is not sarcasm.
ksgbobo- September 19, 2011 at 11:07 am
The UFC is boring compared to Pride or Dream. In Pride and Dream they pentalize the fighters for starring at each other, laying on top of each other when no action is going on. Plus the judging and round times are much better. Also, they do put on a better show than the UFC does, plain and simple. That is just MHO.
bitteralex- September 19, 2011 at 11:05 am
Chris fucking Lytle
CungwantsCookies- September 19, 2011 at 11:00 am
required evolution: yellow card for stalling. that is all.
Kimbos Bread- September 19, 2011 at 10:00 am
HHH after eating a pound of suicide wings without using his hands.
Get Off Me- September 19, 2011 at 9:45 am
With some changes to rules i.e. introducing Pride rules coupled with some unique changes like standing fighters up who do not advance inside 60 seconds on the ground...this sport could really begin to gain more ground. The biggest obstacle however is the judging of the sport, Dana needs to work rules into his promotion that take away the power of the judges "discretion" on who wins a round.
boomtime- September 19, 2011 at 9:24 am
aww fuck off with your fake shit, we are mma fighters it's real life if a fight lasts 5 seconds so be it, the only thing I would like to see is a polar bear v a mountain gorilla and you can fight the winner, personally I think you would be polar bear shit, what does HHH stand for anyway harry houdini's hemroids
skeletor- September 19, 2011 at 9:22 am
It's quite simple really if HHH wants to see some exciting fights between two guys who can really sell the show as a whole all the UFC needs to do is book martinez vs zimmer II.
intercept440- September 19, 2011 at 9:20 am
actually gist of the fist, knee's on the ground are not illegal, only knees to the head are illegal, how the hell you think gsp got serra to quit?, he kneed the fuck out of his body while serra was in the turtle mode. and the direct elbow from 12 to 6 will never be reversed.
.and yes it will evolve, it already has, not the fights.... but the management , why you think dana doesnt give a shot to fitch again even if he wins......
cause no one wants to watch him, its evolving on a manegement level
MMA Mafia- September 19, 2011 at 9:10 am
I personally love the Jon Fitch hate. And I can't wait for the people who say I'm not a true or pure MMA fan because he's sooo dominant and wins all the time and how I don't or can't appreciate his skill. I've been watching MMA since Pride and UFC 1. I've seen a ton of great fights that went to a decision (some of GSP's, Sanchez vs Karo, Fedor vs Nog, Chuck vs Wandy, Frankie vs Gray, ect...) I just don't like Fitch. He might not suck but he's fuckin boring!
Viva Hate- September 19, 2011 at 9:08 am
Seriously, a guy who owes his whole career to knocking up his bosses daughter while dating a "woman" who was more manly than Cyborg. Go back to your theatre troupe Mr. Game and stop talking trash about real fighters.