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It seems that more often than not these days, the UFC likes to sell us on the invincibility of its champions. “Anderson Silva is the G.O.A.T.” “Renan Barao is one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC right now, if not the greatest.” “Jose Aldo had sex with my blind wife last night and now she can see!” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the point.
That’s not meant as a knock on the promotion, mind you. I mean, you tell me how else you’re going to market a humble, softly-spoken foreigner who knows maybe a dozen words in English, if not based on his skills in the cage? This is the fight game after all, and Conor McGregor would still be collecting welfare checks if he didn’t possess the actual skill to back up his mouth. Yet time and time again, it seems that the UFC’s go-to strategy for hyping a fighter becomes akin to placing a hex on them. And when/if the champion in question does lose, it isn’t long before the conversation shifts to “Anderson Silva is a roidhead.” “Renan Barao is going to get smoked in the rematch.” “Jose Aldo is only keeping Conor McGregor’s seat warm.”
To be perfectly clear, this isn’t how I feel the UFC was marketing Anthony Pettis heading into his UFC 185 title fight with Rafael Dos Anjos. The promotion was marketing him on his skillset, sure, which again — how could you not when his highlight reel includes a flying off-the-cage ninja kick? I’m saying that this is how the MMA media seemed to be billing Pettis in the weeks leading up to last Saturday. Blame it on the stupidity and/or rampant fanboyism that affects even the unbiased (and more importantly, credentialed) members, blame it on whatever you want, but there was an air of invincibility surrounding Pettis. We were like a deer caught in the headlights of “Showtime’s” greatness, so much so that we barely even took the time to notice that Dos Anjos was there.