Reigning UFC featherweight champion and global super star the “Notorious” Conor McGregor suffered his first UFC loss at last weekend’s (March 5, 2016) UFC 196, tapping out to Nate Diaz in the second round of their welterweight main event bout.
While McGregor still holds his 145-pound title, as well as his spot as the promotion’s biggest star, his fall from grace also marks yet another UFC hype train to taste defeat in recent memory.
Along with the Irishman, heavily promoted and heavily pushed stars Ronda Rousey, Paige VanZant, and Sage Northcutt have all suffered losses in just the last four months alone.
While these fighters undoubtedly have the ability to bounce back and create even brighter futures, it’s interesting to look deeper into those elitists that garner the special treatment of the infamous UFC hype machine.
Why is it that these hype machines often end up facing downfall? Let’s take a look at four possible reasons:
4. Media Obligations
While winning often and impressively is vital to a fighter’s success, training in the gym and performing well on fight night is far from the only thing that makes a fighter into a star.
In fact, we often see fighter’s receive heavy promotional pushes based simply off of their personalities, charisma, or looks.
With personality, and charisma comes the media obligations of being a fighter, or a professional athlete in general.
All fighters have to deal with interviews, and with the press, but the media obligations of a high level UFC star can often become excessive, and tiring to say the least.
Take a look at the former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey for example. The “Rowdy” one has transcended the sport, and specifically women’s MMA like none other, leading her to become a phenomenon not only within the sport, but within the multi-media world.
Leading up to her title defense against Holly Holm last November, Rousey had taken part in multiple movies, wrote a book, shot a photo shoot, and had done endless amounts of interviews on various talk shows.
Now of course it’s hard to tell what exactly breaks a fighter down, but it had seemed that by fight night, Rousey was simply burnt out. We saw a different side of her, and a different demeanor that roared a sense of tiredness, and stress.
Rousey would go on to suffer a brutal TKO loss that will be remembered forever.
Did the intense media obligations play into this defeat, and the defeat of the three other notable hype trains?
In the UFC, the pressure is always on. If a fighter doesn’t win, that fighter will likely end up losing his job.
With that being said, the pressure on a fighter at the highest level is a different story, especially someone like a McGregor, a VanZant, a Northcutt, as the UFC is banking on these select individuals to bring in the most in terms of attention and revenue.
Aside from the UFC, there also lies the pressure of the fans, and of the press, both of whom are constantly in the faces of the sport’s biggest stars.
And in the end, we can’t forget the pressure one puts on himself or herself. Obviously all fighters aim to get to the top, and when one gets there, or when one is being pushed towards the limelight, the pressure looms larger.
Fighters like Rousey, and McGregor who have risen to the pinnacle expect to stay there, and of course we have learned that staying on top is even harder than getting there.
It’s a tough world on top, and fighters are normal human beings as well.
Pressure has proven to get to everyone – even the best of the best.
2. Lack of Invincibility
Along with pressure, confidence often grows with star status.
Whether a fighter gains confidence from being crowned a champion like Rousey or McGregor, or from the promotional backing of the UFC like VanZant or Northcutt, UFC hype trains are thought to be invincible.
Rousey was the undefeated wrecking machine that was thought to be unhuman.
Just listen to McGregor’s relentless trash talk, and you would think that losing wasn’t even possible for him.
But once again, we are all humans. We all fail at one time or another, and despite the thought of invincibility being drilled into the heads of these specific fighters, we have seen time and time again over the last few years that even the best eventually crumble.
Could it be true that too much confidence can actually lead to downfall?
1. Little Margin For Error
In fighting, unlike some other sports, one simple movement, or one wrong step can completely change the outcome of a fight, or even a career.
Just like our other reasons, the little margin of error becomes even more evident at the top level. When facing the sport’s elite, there’s no room for even the slightest mistake.
When a fighter is hyped up, or made out to be the next best thing, margin for mishap becomes almost non-existent.
The “Rowdy” one’s striking simply wasn’t on point against Holm, and she may never be the same.
The “Notorious” one may have made a mistake moving up in weight, and undoubtedly shouldn’t have shot for a takedown on a submission ace like Diaz.
Northcutt, who also suffered a submission loss, received a ton of criticism after his bout with Bryan Barberena as well.
When one wrong choice can have such a drastic impact, it’s almost impossible to maintain the massive hype.
Once again, the losses of these UFC golden boys/girls in no way marks the end of their respective careers, but it’s clear that the push of the world’s largest MMA promotion is a difficult one to keep afloat.