As a casual fan of pro wrestling, and with the inevitable comparisons between the UFC and WWE, I think that UFC fighters can learn something from pro wrestlers as far as self-promotion and incorporating more entertainment into the product that fans are paying for. That being said, the most successful “characters” in pro wrestling are not really characters at all.
The guy who can find a way to amplify his own, everyday personality by 10 and incorporate that into his persona, is the guy who will put asses in the seats. This is where Chael Sonnen has gone wrong; the character he is playing now is too contrived, too calculated, and way too predictable. If this is how he’s going to spend the next several months leading into his summer rematch with Anderson Silva, you’re going to see more and more American fans rooting for the Brazillian to retain the belt in his home country.
There’s no doubt that UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen has done a remarkable job marketing himself and injecting some much needed personality into the UFC product. The buildup for his 1st fight with Anderson Silva was truly epic and culminated in one of the most successful pay per views of the last few years. He talked a big game and claimed that he was going to enter the cage that night and beat Anderson Silva up; which is exactly what he did…. for 4 rounds. The thing that Chael forgets to mention about that fight is that it was a 5 rounder and he got submitted in that final round and walked out as a loser.
I, along with many other fight fans, gained a lot of respect for Chael during that time period as a fighter, and as a promoter. The fact of the matter is that sometime between the buildup for that fight and now, Chael has lost his way. His interviews and sound bytes have become obviously scripted and extremely repetitive. This weekend in Chicago, between the pre fight press, the interview after the fight, and the post fight press, he spouted out the same 5 or 6 catch phrases and nursery rhymes continuously whether they pertained to the question he was asked or not. Judging from my Twitter timeline from this weekend (@nfrankrotoex, shameless plug), many other fans and members of the media have grown as tired of Chael’s new “character” as I have.
As smart as Chael is, in his post fight interview with Joe Rogan on Saturday, he failed to promote the biggest rematch in the history of the UFC on national television. Aside from that, he could have taken a second to acknowledge the fact that he had just eked out a razor thin decision against Michael Bisping, a decision in which many thought should have gone to the Brit. He instead decided to ask Rogan how excited he was to be in the presence of the man, the myth, the legend… Chael Sonnen. Chael is at his best when he’s saying outlandish things, but still being himself. He’s tried the Muhammad Ali thing and it’s not working for him. With that in mind, think about this Chael…
You wanna be the greatest ever
You’ve got the skills, tools, and personality
From time to time, you can be quite clever
Just give us a little more reality
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Nick Frank is an avid sports fan active in fantasy leagues of all major sports and has been following mixed martial arts closely since the inception of UFC 1 in 1993. Nick hosts RotoRadio's "Cauliflower For The Ears" every Monday night at 9:30 ET on blogtalkradio alongside Brian "The Butcher" Brown and Mike "Delicious" Dolan. You may contact Nick @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @nfrankrotoex