Showdown Joe: The Pros and Cons Of MMA Expression

The old adage that “the pen is mightier than the sword” is one that has often proved the test of time. In a society where we are afforded the right to free speech and to express whatever thoughts we may be thinking (or feeling), there is the peril of consequences. For some, they may be what the wished for. For others, disastrous when countered by hindsight.

Take the case of Michael Bisping, who continues to search for an opponent for a tentative spot at UFC 206 in Toronto.

It first started with a potential match-up with Georges St-Pierre, no doubt, a massive pay-day for both. GSP would garner a massive pay check for making his return to the octagon, while “The Count” would likely earn the grandest payday of his career.

Michael has continued to use every medium available at his disposal to keep his name in the headlines, while attaching his stock to that of the Canadian’s. Take a look at his social media, his online interviews and his various appearances on television, radio and podcasts. He has tried anything and everything to get this bout signed, sealed and delivered for December 10th in the T-dot.

Georges, who has almost never spoken about an opponent on social media, actually replied to Michael informing him of his own update. In essence, he would be more than happy to fight the champ but unfortunately, there is a stalemate with his negotiations with the new ownership of the UFC.

So Bisping went to Plan B …

Whether he agrees with it or not, Michael’s time in the sport is shortening. His window to maximize revenue is coming to an end. He’s not a young buck anymore, and the time is now to make the bigger pay days. And such, he has used his freedom of expression and speech to call out none other than Nick Diaz.

While at the time of this writing, the Stockton native has yet to reply, it’s obvious The Business Man that is Michael Bisping is acute to the importance of finding an opponent who moves the needle. And to say Diaz moves the needle would not only be an understatement, let’s be frank: it’s factual as well.

While the Englishman has always been one to move it himself, he’s on a different level now than what he was two years ago, five years ago, or when he first won The Ultimate Fighter. Stakes are higher. He’s the middleweight champion of the world. There are more zeros at the end of his pay cheques. The bottom line, is that he needs to strike while the iron is hot.

Not so much the case for former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, whose recent comments have already cost him a secondary source of income.

His right to expression saw him inform his fans (and the rest of world) that he was not happy with Reebok and the much tinier pay check he was earning with them being the exclusive sponsor of UFC fighters.

Prior to the Reebok scoring the exclusivity deal, Werdum would often earn extra pay from sponsors in the six-figure range. He now states it is in the four digit range. To wit, he said while the Reebok is mandatory for his UFC appearances and bouts, outside of the octagon, he could do so as he pleases.

He stated that he was in negotiations with Nike, and that Reebok could … well, let’s just say there could be kids reading this right now, so I won’t state the demeaning comments.

Well, the UFC wasn’t happy about this so Werdum was either suspended or released from his duties as the color commentator for Spanish broadcasts. It may not have been the biggest pay check, but it was a secondary source of income for “Vai Cavalo”. That income, is now, no more.

While Bisping is trying to use the power of the brand to earn more money, Werdum, and many others who speak out against them, often see themselves fall short of their intended goals.

Unless guys like Werdum have secret irons in other fires, they are gambling their personal UFC stocks away in high risk maneuvers that will likely never pay huge dividends. The rules of the game are often simple … and they also are not designed for the fighters. If they speak out against the UFC or their partners, there are often consequences to pay.

Play by their rules, and you may get compensated accordingly ( note: a rarity when you look at the numbers over time) but challenge them? Well, you do so at your risk. And more often than not, your bank account will suffer as well.

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