One of the advantages that UFC has over WWE in terms of drawing is that fans believe what fighters say to be real and heartfelt, while it is much harder for a pro wrestler to make people believe in what they're saying when everyone today knows that they're just reciting lines memorised from a script or even shown on a teleprompter. Of course, most fighters aren't trained orators and blow their opportunity when they get given the mic after a big win to advance their character and create intrigue for a future potential match. But those fighters that do get the business of MMA, like Brock Lesnar did before he returned to WWE, and Georges St. Pierre, Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans still do, can often create verbal magic with just a few carefully crafted barbs towards their rivals, leading to huge pay-per-view buyrates when the matches are inevitably booked by Joe Silva. Which begs the question how spontaneous really are the most memorable cageside promos in UFC history?
Last night, at UFC on FUEL TV 2, one fighter after another fluffed the softball question of who they wanted to face next, even headliner Alexander Gustafsson after dominating Thiago Silva couldn't muster up a name despite his most marketable answer being obvious, UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez on today's Wrestling Observer radio show were highly frustrated at this expected turn of events, as this happens on almost every UFC show, leading Alvarez to half jokingly suggest that UFC should choose a guy, say Dennis Siver, with potential and tell all their fighters in that weight division if you can't think of anybody, say his name, because it would at least help get Siver over as a star. Taking the suggestion far too seriously, Meltzer explained that UFC only feeds ideas for promos to the fighters they trust to keep quiet about this practice:
You see the problem is, is that there's a few guys in the company who they trust will not break kayfabe, you know what I mean, and they'll go OK, when you're being interviewed, this is your interview strategy, right. And these are the guys who do the bulk of the promotional interviews, OK, but they don't trust the rest of these guys because they think that what's going to happen is they're going to say something and then somebody is going to go "that was disrespectful" and they're going to go "UFC MADE ME SAY IT" and then everyone is going to go they're scripting their interviews, so you're fake, you're like pro wrestling. So they don't bother to, like people go "why don't they just tell people [what to say]?", this is the reason why they don't tell people.
Hearing this, it sounds like those fighters that UFC can trust to keep their mouths shut to the public are booked much like pro wrestling headliners were up to the late 1990s, where no-one was told word for word what to say, but talking points were given and there was much greater leeway for ad libbing and personal creativity than there is today in WWE. Which just goes to show that while the reality of what happens in the Octagon is very different from the choreography of the squared circle, what happens behind the scenes is more similar than you'd expect. Next thing you'll be telling me is that UFC are happy for musclebound behemoths like Alistair Overeem to get therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone, just like WWE used to dish out.