Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Entertainment is built on stars. The greenest UFC prelim fighter makes $10 thousand to fight, while Conor McGregor made $100 million to box Floyd Mayweather. It might not be fair that McGregor makes 10,000 times more than someone who trains just as hard, but the numbers are driven by fans, who are 10,000 times more interested in Notorious than they are in Benito Lopez, a brave and noble guy, with 2,200 Twitter followers.

Unlike stars in the sky, in combat sports, it’s rare. UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic has not quite broken through. On January 20 at UFC 220 Miocic faces Francis Ngannou, who has chainsaw level buzz right now, and is widely touted as The Next Big Thing. During a recent appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, Miocic was asked if he believes the UFC wants Ngannou to win.

“Obviously, for sure,” Miocic said. “Listen, I feel a little bit disrespected, but I’m not going to dwell on it.”

“He’s got more hype on him I guess. The guy hits super hard. We’re making a big thing about it. I’ve fought some good guys, you know? That’s how we are. I’m not much of a trash talker I just like to fight, that’s what I do.”

“All the pressure is on him, honestly. … The best guys he’s faced, I knocked them out two years ago. So, whatever.”

“I saw the one submission he had against Anthony Hamilton, the Kimura or whatever, I saw that, but I haven’t really seen any ground work. I haven’t really watched, I’ve seen that fight and Andrei Arlovski’s fight are what I’ve seen watching him fight.”

“He definitely has the hype behind him. He definitely has the punching power behind him. So, we’ll see on January 20 how things go.”

Miocic’s last four fights have been against the world’s best fighters, and he ended each in the first round, winning an ‘of the Night’ performance bonus in the process. With a win on January 20, he becomes the first UFC heavyweight champion to defend the title successfully three times. With a win, perhaps Stipe Miocic comes a big star. With a win Ngannou definitely does.