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The winding down of the Bob Sapp era

By Zach Arnold | June 28, 2009

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And what a bizarre career it has been:

In this day and age where you have smart marks on message boards, bloggers, and critics all over the place, Bob Sapp played a unique and interesting marketing game. In an era where UFC fighters are serious and talk about winning only, Sapp played off of fans and their perception of him, of professional wrestlers, and of fighters in general. Sapp is one of the few fighters in MMA who plays a coy, subtle game of sucking in fans by telling them that he’s an entertainer, that he’s going to do this and no matter what happens win or lose he will continue on, and so forth. The way Sapp does it, however, was cunning in the past because he could convince people that all of his showmanship, all of his flash, was just an act, so therefore support him and join him for the ride.

However, that act becomes thin when the general public doesn’t think you are serious in actually training and competing to win. Bob Sapp is finding this out now.

Topics: Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

9 Responses to “The winding down of the Bob Sapp era”

  1. shibuya says:

    I thimk he found that out after the Holland fiasco when he fought Peter Aerts (not that a fight took place). After an embarassing performance the crowd showered him with cups. I was actually surprised Sapp got a fight in the states after the loss to Jan.Sapp hasn’t cared for ages. With him you get a train wreck. I can’t believe he didn’t come out patient and strike instead he came out like a bull. Lashley looked like the more experienced fighter against a guy that gave a prime Nog the fight of his life and KO’d Ernesto Hoost twice 7 years ago.

  2. frankp316 says:

    He should have signed with the WWE when he had the chance. Now he has no value.

  3. Alan Conceicao says:

    I never think about Sapp “training hard” and learning the craft. If he was a completely different guy and capable of doing that, he probably never would have ended up in Toughman or K-1 to start with. He’d have had a career in the NFL or CFL and made plenty that way.

  4. Chris says:

    It would have been interesting to see how Bob Sapp’s career would have turned out if he actually trained properly and learned his craft. But that would have taken a special kind of motivation.

    Bob Sapp was cashing big checks for being a larger then life personality, but a below average fighter in terms of skill. So there was really no motivation for him to improve.

  5. Dave2 says:

    I still can’t believe this same person gave Nogueira hell in MMA and TKOed Hoost twice in K-1. I just can not believe how far this unskilled (but massive) brawler went at one time before Cro Cop messed him up for good. No offense to Hoost but I think it’s a disgrace to K-1 for their greatest champion of all-time (and I think he won the GP that year too if I’m not mistaken?) to lose to an unskilled brawler TWICE.

    However, Sapp these days is not what he used to be. It’s like something changed in Sapp (psychologically) that made him less of a beast after Cro Cop beat him in K-1.

  6. Ultimo Santa says:

    Dave2 and shibuya – I totally agree.

    It’s mind blowing to think someone who looked that dangerous in PRIDE and K-1, with such little experience, could have fallen so far.

    Sapp probably felt invincible to a degree, having so much success with so little training.

    But having a prime CroCop shatter your orbital bone is a harsh reality check. You see that all the time – a fighter gets brutally KOed or injured, and for a variety of reasons they just never bounce back.

    But Sapp never took fighting seriously, which is what burns so many people’s toast. He’s a giant, muscular mass of wasted potential, and nothing is more frustrating than that for a fan.

    frankp316 – I don’t agree.

    Sapp has no more or less value today to the WWE than he did 7 years ago. Their target market is now 5-12 year olds; kids who are too young to watch the UFC. Less than 1% of their fanbase knows who Sapp is, and of those people only a fraction would care about his MMA career.

    If the WWE is willing to push someone like Lashley, who has zero charisma but is built like a superhero, I don’t see why Sapp wouldn’t be a welcome addition (if Vince wanted to fork out a LOT of money for him, which he wouldn’t).

  7. Shane says:

    In an audio interview with Sapp months ago on (promoting his Strikeforce fight) Sapp acknowledged that he could be a better fighter if he trained harder and put more effort in.

    In his mind he feels more comfortable having several revenue streams (fighting, acting, music etc.) making good money rather than putting all his eggs in one basket to make extremely good money.

  8. Mark says:

    The problem with his theory is that when he’s seen as a joke of a fighter, no one will hire him for movies, nor will the Japanese be interested in his music (I assume he’s rapping since doing J-Pop would just be disturbing) or seeing him in commercials.

    It’s the same issue I feared would ruin Gina. MMA is great to parlay into other gigs, but when you lose motivation and start losing, your appeal in the other field wears off. Cung Le possibly leaving MMA now for movies is far better than Frank Shamrock looking weak but thinking he can act later.

    It’s best to hit some kind of peak and exit MMA than do it half-assed. Fortunately for Gina she’s much better looking than “The Beast”, though.

  9. MMAMoneyLine says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the people that say Sapp should be in the WWE. He is an impressive physical specimen with a huge following in Japan and a sizeable following here in the states.

    Get out of the fight game, Bob, and start making some money without getting punched in the face!


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