Fighting Formula: Why Personality Matters in Mixed Martial Arts
At first glance, cage fighting seems like a blunt form of self-expression—physically daunting men and women exchange blows in a relentless quest to emerge with consciousness and victory intact. But make no mistake about it, personality is nearly as important as the combat itself.
Fists may fly, but words almost always precede them.
As mixed martial arts continues to evolve, we've seen a startling rise in the number of fighters making a name outside of the caged battleground. Competitiveness for notoriety is at an all-time high at virtually every premier fight promotion. It's no surprise, then, that the most self-aware fighters have added depth and dimension to their public personas.
It wasn't always that way.
The nascent years of mixed martial arts were riddled with fighters who came and left with the wind. At UFC 4, Royce Gracie caught Keith Hackney in an armbar—we might all bestow reverence and respect to the former, but a brief web search is likely necessary to jog memory of the latter. In all fairness, Hackney was part of an entire era of fighters willing to test their mettle inside the Octagon in spite of the sport's virtually nonexistent public image.
Yet, even in the case of the initial greats, personality was a distant second to fight performance. Gracie's role as MMA's venerable forefather is surely the result of his ability to submit giants long before such skills were commonplace.
But imagine, if only for a moment, how much easier it would have been for earlier champions to build their identities with the countdown and prime-time specials that have now become all but ordinary.
The foremost female fighter on the planet, Ronda Rousey, is a case example of a talented athlete who's managed to properly soak in the limelight. Via MMAjunkie.com, UFC President Dana White signed the Olympic judoka because he envisions her as a potential crossover superstar:
“She has the whole package....