Every professional sport teeters on the fine line that separates sport from sports entertainment. After all, professional sports are about revenue. Combat sports are no different. Prize fighting is about winning the monetary prize.
The UFC hasn’t been immune to the allure of putting together fights purely for entertainment purposes. Reputation and popularity sometimes outweighs actual accomplishment. Nick Diaz was granted a title shot against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158 in 2013 after serving a year-long suspension and coming off of a loss. It wasn’t the first time that a fighter’s popularity and trash talk landed them in a title fight.
Now, St-Pierre is returning from a three-and-a-half-year pseudo-retirement and will skip the line to immediately challenge middleweight champion Michael Bisping for the belt. St-Pierre has never fought in the 185-pound division before, but he has the marquee name that the UFC needs right now.
UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley understands the game. A star possesses the ability to promote themselves and win. Winning isn’t the only goal of a fighter wanting to be a household name.
“Now, it is a bit much of the entertainment world. If you’ve got a dope suit on, if you can talk a lot of crap, that might warrant you a title shot faster than someone else,” said Woodley to UFC Tonight.
“When I was coming up fighting, obviously, I fought the top guys. I feel like I had to really earn my way to the top,” he said.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to do both. You have to live up to what you say, have the great performances, and be an entertainer. We know the rules as fighters. We know what we’re up against. You know you have to entertain… I think it’s silly for fighters to complain and not try to be that person as well.”