In case you missed it, the early reports are that UFC 117 did somewhere around 1 million PPV buys. If these numbers are accurate, then UFC 117 did better than anyone could have expected. So, what should we attribute the strong PPV buyrate for UFC 117? The strength of the fight card? The momentum coming off of the wildly successful PPV events UFC 115 and UFC 116? The best pound for pound fighter in the world headlining the event? If you answered none of the above, you would be correct. The success of UFC 117 can be credited to one man, Chael Sonnen.
Yes, Sonnen's crazy quotes and constant ranting over the past few months worked. He not only got the hardcore fans interested but also got the attention of casual fans and the mainstream media. Seriously, how many other fighters appear both on Sportscenter and Jim Rome Is Burning?
Not only did Sonnen help the UFC with his crusade but he also helped himself. To put it simply, if you didn't know Chael Sonnen before UFC 117, you know him now. He got more publicity over the past few months than most fighters get over their whole career. Whether it was his intentions or not, this added exposure is going to open up more doors for Sonnen, mostly financial ones. He is now on the radar of sponsors that had no idea who he was a couple of months ago and probably got himself a significant pay raise the next time his contract is up (maybe a percentage of the PPV if he is lucky). To add a cherry on top, the UFC probably can now use him as a headliner for a future pay per view event.
What should be interesting to see is if other fighters in the future take a page from Sonnen's playbook. Undoubtedly Sonnen's pre-UFC 117 campaign worked. This may lead to other fighters that aren't known outside the hardcore MMA community to mimic what Sonnen did in hopes of getting the same results and coverage. You figure the Sonnen-approach would work extremely well for talented fighters who aren't fan favorites or well known outside the MMA communuty like Josh Koscheck and Jamie Varner. Those two are already disliked by MMA fans, so they might as well run with it. If they manage to get people angry enough, they will tune in just to see them get their ass kicked.
It's probably unlikely that we are going to start to see a huge wave of fighters spew semi-racist, homophobic, hypocritical jargon leading up to their fights in the future, but don't be shocked if a few take the bull by the horns and run with it. Frankly, it would make every fight just a little bit more entertaining.