I'm hoping this will be the last article I do on this subject, at least for a while. I've been beating this to death but some recent quotes by Josh Koscheck, I felt, called for one more look at this. Here is what he had to say, via our friendo Kid Nate at Bloody Elbow:
"Being loved or hated, ya know what? It's about making money for me. So if I've got to be the bad guy to make money, then I'll be the bad guy to make money.
..."It's never bugged me, from day one. I know who I am as a person. I know the people around me know me. I'm not here to make friends - I'm here to make money. I have enough friends. The people around me care about me and love me, and it's the same relationship back. I'm not trying to make friends here. I'm here to make money. It's a business."
The very first sentence says it all. Whether fans love you or hate you, it's all about making money. That's the entire reason for doing it all. Yes, there are other reasons that guys fight but money is the most important one and I'll never let anyone convince me otherwise. That's what pro wrestling is and that's what MMA is.
Pro wrestling started as a carnival act. Lure the marks in with the promise of violence, only to give them a worked fight where they aren't actually hurting each other, and in fact are protecting each other, so they can do it again the next night and make more money. When the fights weren't enough they created characters and gimmicks to play to the crowd with. It's a tried and true method. If you get people to hate you and love your opponent, they will pay to see him kick your ass. MMA is the extension of this method because it's the ultimate payoff that pro wrestling cannot give us. When they get in that cage they will actually be trying to hurt each other.
The connection is in the build up. Koscheck is openly admitting that he will play the heel to counteract George St. Pierre's babyface persona. He's not saying he will do it because that's just who he is and he won't change for anybody. He's saying he will blatantly play a role if it means he makes more money. That's pro wrestling the whole way. Chael Sonnen never actually came out and said that but he was doing the same thing. He was presenting a character that was very much like himself but with the volume turned all the way up. Whether anybody wants to admit it or not, it's a tried and true method of fight promotion.
Every sport on earth does whatever it can to make more money. That's what it all comes down to. When the Patriots beat the Colts in the 2003 AFC Championship game they did it with ugly defense. They jammed the Colts receivers and beat them up the whole game and never allowed Peyton Manning to get into a rhythm with them. The Colts scored 3 points in one of the ugliest games in recent memory that the fans didn't particularly enjoy. So what did the NFL do? They immediately changed the rules the next season. Ever since then pass interference is called on basically everything the corners and safeties do. So of course they started playing off and it allowed for much more offense. A few years later the Colts and Patriots met again in the Championship game and it was a 38-34 shootout win for the Colts. Everyone loved it and it was much more entertaining. Guess what that rule change was all about? Making more money. They didn't do it for the good of the game. They did it because it would make more people watch and in turn make them more money. That's the world of sports.
MMA and pro wrestling share so many similarities that you would be blind if you can't see it. Koscheck just came out and confirmed it. The goal is to make money and guys will do whatever they have to in order to do so. If they have to borrow a few pages out of the pro wrestling handbook then so be it. We all need to just accept it for what it is. It doesn't make MMA any less real or any less entertaining. The product in the cage remains the same and that's what really matters at the end of the day. Let's just not pretend that things aren't what they are.