Not so surprisingly, UFC fighters are upset about the pro wrestling angle between Brock Lesnar and Daniel Cormier at the end of UFC 226.
No one is more upset than Curtis Blaydes, who is losing out on a potential title shot with Lesnar returning.
It would be easy to blame the UFC or Lesnar for everything that happened following the fight, but it's not their fault. It's the fault of Cormier. He's the one who grabbed the mic from Joe Rogan, began cutting a pro wrestling promo, and called Brock into the octagon. And he did it because he's smarter than any fighter fighter complaining about the incident.
Cormier, a self-admitted pro wrestling fan, saw an opportunity to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. A fight with Brock was already going to do big business, now the UFC will be able to print money following the post-fight angle. Less than 12 hours after the video was uploaded to the UFC's Official Youtube page, it was over one million views.
Being partially scripted doesn't make it any less effective. While many are calling out Cormier for participating in something like this and the UFC for pushing the angle, Cormier is rightfully calling out other fighters for not taking matters into their own hands.
Look at some of the biggest fights in MMA history.
Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock broke pay-per-view records at UFC 40. Their rivalry started following a post-fight incident.
Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell, the first fight to do one one million buys, had multiple in-cage confrontations after fights. Georges St-Pierre gave us, "I'm not impress by your performance" when he was called into the Octagon following a Matt Hughes victory. Rashad Evans ruined Jon Jones' special night twice by entering the cage following Jones victories. Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo were going to break records together regardless, but McGregor jumping the cage and laughing in Aldo's face certainly boosted interest. Nick and Nate Diaz know what they are doing when they call out top fighters and throw in expletives.
This isn't even the first time Cormier has participated in such a spectacle. His entire feud with Jon Jones had pro wrestling elements. While I have no doubt that the hatred between the two was real, I also have no doubt that DC played up certain aspects.
Cormier has been a competitor and an athlete his entire career. The first time he fought Jones, he was undefeated. The pay-per-view sold 800,000 buys. He made a disclosed $90,000 for that bout. Think about that. Dude could not even get six figures for the years of work he had put into the sport and the months of work put into selling the fight. I'm sure he got pay-per-view points. But $90,000 base pay for the biggest fight of his career.
At UFC 220, Francis Ngannou made the same base pay ($500,000) as Cormier. Stipe Miocic made $100,000 more despite Cormier's track record of being a bigger draw.
Yeah, the new double champion went 100 percent pro wrestling after defeating Miocic. Can you blame the guy? He's 39 years old in the most unforgiving sport in the world. He didn't start making good money until three years ago. And even then he was underpaid compared to his less accomplished peers. He made a business decision when he took the mic from Rogan. An extremely smart business decision.
Lesnar-Cormier wasn't the first "pro wrestling moment" in UFC history. It won't be the last. Fighters can be upset all they want, but in the words of DC, "stay broke." The company was built on the back of pro wrestling. Some guys just do it better than others.