Controversy sells. This is probably one of the simplest and most effective strategies of marketing. Controversy is used and manipulated in nearly every sales situation and usually takes its audience by storm. Nearly every sport uses this tactic. Rivalries and superstars colliding equates to huge ticket, advertising, and sponsorship sales. This has been a major piece of the rising success of MMA and the UFC.
Let’s think about this for a minute though… We’ve had Couture vs. Liddell, Liddell vs. Ortiz, Ortiz vs. Shamrock, Penn vs. Pulver, Arlovski vs. Silvia, and Hughes vs. St. Pierre. Every one of these matchups created an enormous amount of buzz and excitement about UFC and helped to boost ratings in an incredible way. While many of the best fighters in MMA have been quiet and unassuming, these flamboyantly verbal battles between controversial stars have built a fan base for a sport that was previously dying out.
There have rarely been controversial fights as emotionally one-sided as the upcoming bout between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. Usually the trash-talking and verbal sparring goes both ways, but in the history of Silva/Sonnen, it has been almost entirely Sonnen spitting insults and threats at Silva while Silva shrugs it off and looks away.
However, like any predator at the top of the food chain, annoyances can be allowed to go un-addressed for only so long. Silva has had a few moments of extreme rage in fight interviews as well as personal communication. This is new and interesting for a lot of the fans, since Silva has had a recent history of being moderately disconnected during fights. As these events have unfolded, one can only think that Sonnen has honestly done himself a disservice in this case. He has guaranteed that he will have the best possible Anderson Silva in that ring on July 7th, 2012.
Here is why this is a disservice:
So as it stands now, a disconnected Silva has battered and destroyed every opponent he has faced in the ring for over six years. Sonnen has now metaphorically poked the bear into waking out of hibernation. This is fantastic for the fight card and wonderful for the media. It also heralds the biggest mistake of Sonnen’s fight career.
Sonnen put up a huge effort in the first fight with Silva. He was also likely using steroids. Silva was also likely hurt at some level. Silva still won. Now Silva is healthy, angry, and justifiably out for blood. Sonnen is now legally using steroids and continues to berate and attack Silva. Sonnen better win. If he doesn’t, he will look like one of the biggest fools in MMA history… I hope Silva destroys him.