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« | Home | »

Monson + St. Pierre = UFC Problem?

By UFCmania | October 27, 2006

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By Tom Bones

Before we get going, just want to say thanks to the folks at for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts on the UFC. We’ll try and contribute as often as possible, but feel free to visit UFCmania if you want a more regular fix.

Now let’s get started.

Anderson Silva’s destruction of then-champion Rich Franklin at UFC 64: “Unstoppable” stirred a lot of conversation about the fallout of having a non-English speaking fighter atop the middleweight division.

Indeed, it is certainly much easier to market a good looking and articulate former school teacher turned mixed martial artist than a rather enigmatic, soft spoken figure who speaks Portuguese.

But, that’s all nonsense.

What “The Spider” may lack in charisma, he more than makes up for in the Octagon. In fact, most males aged 18-34 — the bread-and-butter demographic of the UFC — pay $39.95 to watch dudes get hurt.

And no one does that quite like Anderson Silva.

Put simply, the UFC got a whole lot better with its newest 185-pound champion — not worse.

Let’s just pretend, however, that on November 18th, Jeff Monson and Georges St. Pierre both beat the current UFC heavyweight and welterweight champions, respectively.

No one is talking about this very real possibility … until now.

If that happens, here is what things would look like:

So to sum it up, that’s two muscle-bound wrestler-types (Monson, Sherk) who share similar — and rather boring — fighting styles; a Brazilian who isn’t even really that popular in his own country, much less here in the states (Silva); a super-nice “awe-shucks” French Canadian with a funny accent (St. Pierre); and the baddest man on the planet (Liddell).

This potential scenario, with Liddell being the lone exception, poses a much larger problem for the UFC.

Clearly, the UFC has dragged its feet giving Monson a title shot when you consider the man hasn’t lost a fight in four years! That’s because he has the personality of a mop and typically smothers his opponents with a very effective ground game (we won’t go into the bad tattoos).

Unfortunately, that’s not what most fans want to see (even though Monson probably boasts the most impressive submission skills in the division along with Frank Mir).

The UFC had this problem in 2004. Back then, Matt “Lay and Pray” Lindland did everything he needed to do inside the cage — albeit in yawning fashion — to earn a crack at the middleweight crown. It was what he did outside the Octagon, however, that “forced” the organization to release him.

It was a severe — and puzzling — punishment for something as minor as wearing a questionable tee shirt.

A tee shirt!

Many believe that the reason behind the decision was motivated in part because of Lindland’s threat to Rich Franklin’s championship hardware. Lindland was a stinky, methodical and not so exciting fighter at the time.

But, he was good … very good. And, he still is (apparently, he still stinks, too).

This time around, the UFC has done the right thing by giving Monson this opportunity. He’s earned it. Rest assured, however, that Dana White and Zuffa brass will be rooting for Tim Sylvia on November 18.

As for St. Pierre, well, it’s just Georges. He is blessed with amazing athleticism and talent, becoming one of the premier 170-pound fighters in the world. But, when he talks, you just get the feeling that he should be a tour guide at Niagara Falls or something.

He tried to talk smack in the wake of Matt Hughes’ victory over BJ Penn last month; however, it just sounded all wrong. The moment was described by one female onlooker as “cute.”

And that’s exactly what Georges is … cute.

He doesn’t come off as a menacing, intimidating figure. Matt Hughes, on the other hand, is brash, arrogant and cocky. All of which make you want to tune in and see him back it up or get pummeled into oblivion — there’s no in between.

Put simply, Georges is not a polarizing character. He’s a nice, “cute” guy first, sick and gifted fighter, second.

Regardless of what happens at UFC 65: “Bad Intentions,” there’s no way to predict how its outcome will affect the success or popularity of the UFC. The organization is fortunate to have an amazing fan base, which isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So if Jeff and Georges happen to win on November 18, it’s all good.

At least the UFC will still have Chuck to market.

Tom Bones is the managing editor of You can contact him via e-mail at

Topics: Tom Bones, UFC | 17 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

17 Responses to “Monson + St. Pierre = UFC Problem?”

  1. Mr. Roadblock says:

    I think this whole topic about marketable champions is just a lot of hot air. I understand MMA writers have a lot of downtime between events. But seriously. MMA fans care about fighting styles. Sure you need some people to do press. But contenders can do the talking just as well as the champs. St. Pierre will be a great champion. Anderson Silva is on the threshold of becoming a cult sensation in UFC if they continue to book him properly.

    The biggest threat to UFC is not foreign born champions who can’t speak English. The threat is boring Midwestern wrestlers who grind out decisions and all look the same.

    The argument could be made that Monson would be a bad champ because he is an Anti-Capitalist and an Anarchist. A large portion of UFC fans are patriots, cops, armed forces America lovers. Still I don’t think having a Commie as champ would be that bad. It’s like a dominant heel in wrestling. People will pay good money to see someone kick his ass.

    UFC is mainly being driven by it’s exposure on Spike and some mainstream sports writers. Both of those venues can sell the foreign born champs to the public. St. Pierre and Silva are two of the most exciting sub-205lb fighters around. With the exception of his fight with BJ, St. Pierre has been pummeling opponents since his loss to Hughes. And he has been pummeling top flight opposition, not hand picked record fluffers.

    UFC is (or should be) building a brand based on bang for your buck. Yes, personalities such as Tito, Ken and Chuck helps. But if they use their resources the right way they should be able to build up several fighters via Spike and the media.

  2. Zach Arnold says:

    I think this whole topic about marketable champions is just a lot of hot air.

    I disagree. If you look at Japan, marketing is very important. There’s a reason Kiyoshi Tamura is still valued as a semi-high/top name. Same with Sakuraba.

    In America, marketing is even more important. Yes, exciting fights is the most important criteria. However, having the complete package (or least attempting to, Phil Baroni as an example) is certainly something people focus on.

    I’m not worried so much about St. Pierre or Anderson Silva. Monson as champion might concern me if I’m in UFC. Both fight-style and microphone performance reasons. If Monson could pull off an explosive heel schtick, he would have nuclear heat. If not, trouble…

    UFC is (or should be) building a brand based on bang for your buck. Yes, personalities such as Tito, Ken and Chuck helps.

    Personalities don’t just help. They tend to be the leading factor in who draws and who doesn’t. Those three guys you mentioned happen to be UFC’s strongest PPV box office attractions.

  3. mph says:


    I like watching St. Pierre. He seems like a fighter with plenty of heart and I don’t really care about his out-of-ring personality.

    I think Sylvia is a big yawn. I have no idea why anyone would find him particularly “marketable.” His style isn’t very interesting to me, but I’m not usually a fan of the heavyweights anyhow.

    The inside baseball talk about UFC’s marketing strategy … I don’t think I agree that it’s merely “hot air,” even if all this inside baseball talk isn’t my cup of tea. But if it’s true, it smacks of a certain overcontrol I find a lot more unpalatable than uncharismatic champs.

  4. Zach Arnold says:

    I think Sylvia is a big yawn. I have no idea why anyone would find him particularly “marketable.” His style isn’t very interesting to me, but I’m not usually a fan of the heavyweights anyhow.

    Unless the plan is to get Brandon Vera in line to beat Tim Sylvia, I don’t know where UFC is headed in 2007 as far as their Heavyweight division.

    And you’re dead-on accurate about Sylvia.

  5. JOSH says:

    Honestly I agree that marketability is a HUGE HUGE issue…but this article doesnt really need to be written (just ebcause of the Silva article IMO). GSP is fine, granted he’s a pretty boy and cute BUT if u look at what he can do in the ring that will change everyone’s opinion of him. Look at some of the best boxers in the world, a young Sugar Ray was always considered a baby face but man when he bangs…NOBODY called him cute. GSP is the same…and to be honest if u compare him to Hughes, neither one does much for interviews they both habve that good honest boy look that chicks dig…so whats the problem?

    Also if u look at Monson as champ…to be honest I would rather take Monson over Sylvia because at least Monson looks like a champ..Sylvia looks like an overgrown lanky ogre. Monson can at least get away with the bald tatooed big muscle look. But neither one is “exciting” so IMO Dana is stuck in the same hole with either one as champ. at least with Monson we wont have to constantly see him with pixsof the belt around his waist(if it fits around his waist).

  6. Mike says:

    GSP would be a bad champion only if UFC is deliberately marketing their product towards bigoted inbred mouthbreathers and no one else. How dumb do you have to be to think GSP would be a bad champ because of his accent? He’s likeable, he’s young, he’s already hugely popular in Canada, and anyone who has ever seen a single GSP fight knows he can bring it. If anything, GSP has the potential to be a breakthrough mainstream star.

  7. MMA T-Shirts says:

    I would rather see GSP fight than Matt Hughes. I cant understand why anyone other than Matt Hughes’ family would feel differently.

  8. UFCmania says:

    How dumb do you have to be to think GSP would be a bad champ because of his accent?

    Ha, nowhere did we say that he would be a bad champ. In fact, as avid fight fans, we, too, would rather see GSP put an end to Matt Hughes’ reign.

    However, Matt Hughes does have major appeal from a fan and marketing standpoint. Him, Chuck and Rich have been the posterboys for the UFC for a very long time, especially during its recent meteoric rise in popularity.

    And, by him losing, it could very well create somewhat of a vacuum until more people realize just how good St. Pierre is. Coupled, of course, with a victory by Monson.

    We merely raise the issue to spark good discussion and hear great opinions.

    Nice job.

  9. Chad says:

    The only bad marketing move by the UFC would be not to let the Best of the Best get in the ring and fight for it. I agree Sylvia does not look or fight like a heavyweight champ Arlovski is a much better fit (OH!! and where is Arlovski)…. As someone who pays the $39.95 to wath these events I dont want something as stupid as a marketing scheme to sway who fights who or the outcome, Because then it becomes just like boxing and the WWE.

  10. Mr. Roadblock says:

    I think it is a coincidence that UFC rose to prominence in the US PPV market and on Cable while Liddell, Franklin and Hughes were champs. I think UFC would have risen no matter what once they got the show on Spike and made their press blitz. I think it is the idea of fighting and the sport and the blood and danger that gets people excited. If instead of Liddell, Franklin and Hughes it was Wanderlai Silva, Dan Henderson and BJ Penn or Shogun, Jackson, Bustamante it would have happened. Hughes and Franklin are boring, vanilla types of people. In fact Hughes comes across as a big douche bag almost every time he opens his mouth. I’m not saying that having personalities isn’t important. My point is that the champion needs to be the best fighter and fight an exciting style. UFC has shown that Tito/Ken in a non-title match can draw. GSP and Anderson Silva are great exciting to watch fighters. They are the perfect champions. If UFC needs to they can protect the Mike Swicks and the Forrest Griffins if they need poster boys. But let natural selection take it’s course with the championship picture and things will be fine.

    Take Franklin for example. Even if UFC decides there is no conceivable way he will beat Anderson Silva you can still do 18 months to a year of a title chase for him. If and when someone does beat A. Silva then you pit Franklin against that guy.

    Besides these fans are fickle and this is gladiator stuff. Fans want dominant performers. I can think of about a dozen times fans started chanting for a guy who got little to no reaction on his walk to the cage. I’ll bet next time A. Silva fights there will be chants of Silva, Silva throughout his fight.

  11. PizzaChef says:

    To be honest I thought the UFC were trying to market Arlovski cause of his knock out power and quick hands. A KO artist that can grapple in a way. I though that would fit the UFC perfectly. Plus he attracted a few female fans. *Eyes someone.*

    Anyways, if Vera does face Sylvia, I would cheer for Vera. He’s a great talent.

  12. MMA T-Shirts says:

    I totally agree with what roadblock says above – I think that the UFC champs had little influence on the growth of the UFC (other than perhaps Liddell who just looks like a bad man). Yes marketing matters but Hughes and Franklin are easily substitutable.

    “And, by him losing, it could very well create somewhat of a vacuum until more people realize just how good St. Pierre is.”

    I’m pretty certain most people who watch UFC know how good GSP is. I mean, in what fight has he looked anything other than good (and exciting for that matter)?

  13. JOSH says:

    I would say the BJ/ GSP match wasnt really GSP’s moment to shine. Granted Im one of the few that beleievd GSP rightfully won that match but he did it ONLY because of BJ’s poor condition (or lack of fighting spirit?)

  14. Amy Robinson says:

    Matt and Tim aren’t nessecarily all that great alternatives in the marketing department. Tim’s flabby with a touch of a beer belly, hardly the physcial specimen you would expect an ultimate fighting champion to be. On top of that he looks like he could be one of the drunk skinheads in the audience of a black sabbath concert. Matt on the other hand is cocky, which has infact turned alot of fans off of him. Not to mention with his Hank Williams music and farm boy breeding, many see him as an uber-redneck who they wish would get on the first bus back to hicksville.

    And the UFC has had a tough time with those two as there champions, Tim is not a draw on his own, for as much as he insists he is, which is why he’s almost always paired up with another headlining bout on PPV, and in those situations he’s never the real main event draw, even though he insists he is.

    Matt has been a difficult one too, for as long as he’s been champion and for as dominant as he’s been he still hasn’t provided the drawing power he should potentially have. The biggest disappointment with him was at UFC 60, their first show in L.A. with the fighting machine in Hughes and the original legend in Royce they fell much below the tremendous attendance expectations the UFC had.

    Monson doesn’t really offer any better choice in champion than Sylvia, as he could be right there in crowd with Big Timmy head banging along to Ozzy. But GSP an the other hand has definite potential. Menacing perhaps he’s not in looks, but in the cage he definitely is. And good looks, a good personality, and great athleticism are tremendous pros in the realm of marketing. Just look what they did for Franklin — he went from a relativly indifferent fighter to the fans to bonified superstar utilizing the same qualities St. Pierre has along with the momentum of a title reign. If GSP does capture the belt in Nov. it may turn out to be a big positive for the UFC in the birth of a new superstar.

  15. JThue says:

    Good article, pointing to a more realistic potential MINOR problem than the Silva-debacle that was posted on this site a few days ago. I just don’t get how you can state that…

    1: “Indeed, it is certainly much easier to market a good looking and articulate former school teacher turned mixed martial artist than a rather enigmatic, soft spoken figure who speaks Portuguese.”

    2: “And that’s exactly what Georges is … cute.”

    Franklin has the exact same issue as St.Pierre does. He’s a babyface nice guy who can’t get over as serious if his life depends on it. If it was easy to market Franklin, it’ll be easiER to market St.Pierre, seeing as Georges will actually, unlike Rich, happen to defeat a solidified champion in a highly competitive division if he beats Hughes for the strap.

    Just a tiny bit of inconsistency there 🙂

  16. Zack says:

    Terrible article.

    GSP is very marketable….guys and girls both love him. He’s an exciting fighter (outside of the BJ fight) and a class act. Also…Liddell the baddest man on the planet? Uhhhh….Fedor? Cro Cop? Etc? Etc Etc? Cmon dude.

    I love reading Zach Arnold & Dave Meltzer talk about MMA because they “get it” but the rest of the pro wrestling dudes reporting on MMA, while playing catchup with the history, ooze with clueless-ness.

  17. Gumby says:

    Good post.

    One point I’d like to make out is that the UFC is about marketing the UFC first and foremost, and the fighters secondary.

    So does it really matter who the champs are? As long as the fighters produce in the ring. The bottom line is delivering exciting PPV’s that the audience is going to want to purchase month after month. Honestly Chuck Lidell’s personality (sparkly as it may be in person) has not been his main selling point to the public, the fact that he takes on all comers and the usually wind up KO’d is what has people hyped. Rich Franklin, same thing. Anderson Silva will do just fine. TUF not withstanding, the UFC has not really hyped the personalities of any of it’s fighters, as much as the fighters have come out and sold themselves. Tito and Kenn are hype machines with or without Zuffa, the UFC was simply smart enough to take advantage of the rivalry (like any sane promoter would). .


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