All the marketing hype and tabloid drama aside… there is no question eyes in the MMA world are keenly fixed on the outcome of the Welterweight Championship bout between GSP and Diaz at UFC 158 tomorrow.
Fans on both ends of the spectrum are cheering on their favorite… At first glance it appears that GSP has a slightly stronger following than Diaz. However, we can’t be entirely certain of that. One questions to ask is why bother matching these two fighters? Did the fans want it before the hype or did the hype generate the interest? Either way the UFC is pretty shrewd in either catering to the fans or creating interest through some dramatic marketing efforts.
The press work has been well choreographed on both sides (GSP and Diaz) and although Diaz may complain that he is being made out to be a villain in this event, the old adage remains true “there’s no such thing as bad press”.
Marketing efforts and successes aside, a burning question on many people’s minds is, “What would the UFC look like if GSP were displaced as the reigning welterweight champion by Nick Diaz?” Would this be a positive spin for the UFC’s image or would it detract a large portion of fans from the sport to see a favorite lose to someone portrayed as the villain? (We aren’t saying that Nick is indeed a villain, much to the contrary we understand each fighter has their role to play in this MMA soap opera and they are both doing a fairly good job at driving the hype engine.)
So let’s say Nick wins, what are the possibilities from there on out? GSP could decide he wants to retire… He might decide to pursue his Olympic dreams, but oh wait, that’s right…. The IOC just got rid of Wrestling from the Olympics. So that rules that out…
How about GSP asks for a rematch? That would certainly be something to look forward to. The question then is, can Nick keep a hold of the belt long enough for that rematch to happen? If this does take place then you can expect the hype engine to be drawn out over months… stories of rancor between the two fighters… smack talk and all the like. We aren’t certain wether taking this approach is helping or hurting the sport.
Another option to consider is an injury…. If the injury is significant that could certainly impede the possibility of a rematch any time soon. There would definitely be a major upset, especially depending on how emotional the fight is. The question remains what benefit would the UFC have from such a change? Additionally, would GSP be interested in recovering and returning to the octagon?
One thing is for certain, regardless of the marketing motives behind the hype engine, we must admit the tactics are working and our interest is piqued. We will be watching the fight live this weekend and posting comments to our FaceBook.
In the mean time, send us your thoughts… What do you think the world would look like with a GSP loss to Nick Diaz?