4.) Trash Talk Is King
McGregor’s impact on the UFC clearly extends far beyond his holding up of the lightweight division.
He’s ushered in a new era of the fight game, one where shameless self-promotion and over-the-top hype seem much more important than any actual in-cage fighting skill. It’s clear that many fighters have taken notice of his success which was in no small part thanks to his trash talk, and you can’t blame them based on the reported $100 million he made to box Floyd Mayweather this summer – an unheard-of sum for an MMA fighter.
Fans may argue that the focus on trash talk has made the fight game more exciting and engaging as a result, but at a certain point, it begins to disrespect the spirit of martial arts and the competition. In that sense, MMA is leaning towards becoming more like WWE because cutting a promo where you bash your opponents gets UFC athletes noticed a lot faster than simply winning four or more fights in a row.
It’s a counterproductive plan for the leaders of MMA, yet they’re doing it anyway. It doesn’t seem to be working very well, though. That’s because everyone isn’t McGregor, and for every fighter who takes a cue from ‘The Notorious’ and becomes more entertaining, we have more fighters like Colby Covington who try to ‘play the heel’ and annoy people enough to get a title shot.