Bulging muscles, colorful outfits, strange and horrifying tattoos and hair cuts—there's nothing normal about your typical mixed martial artist. Combine that with an ability to dish out and take enormous punishment and you have, well, a real-life superhero.
Fans are drawn to fighters, the real-life tough guys who can do what we have all dreamed about at one time or another in our lives. They can look another man in the eye and know they will walk out of whatever may come with their heads held high.
These aren't just athletes. They are inspirational. Aspirational. What they do in the cage, many of us can only imagine. The only thing missing is the cape.
It's this desire to witness the extraordinary that has prevented the UFC from successfully promoting the little guys. The money is in your welterweights and above. Sure the smaller guys can kick butt too. But who really looks up to anybody 5'6" or shorter?
Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings aren't exactly packed when the featherweights fight. Time Warner doesn't bring in extra operators to field pay-per-view orders. On the Internet, it's a virtual ghost town.
Jose Aldo may be amazing—but he's amazing in a vacuum. If Urijah Faber's leg is kicked off and no one sees it, did it ever really happen at all?
There is, however, one exception. A fight that has, for whatever reason, attracted the interest of the casual MMA fan. Fans haven't bought into Aldo, not completely. But they've bought into one match.
Jose Aldo versus Frankie Edgar.
The former lightweight champion, Edgar has gotten by on moxie for much of his career. Going forward, that won't be enough. Finally fighting where he belongs, Edgar won't be an underdog feel-good story against Aldo. He'll, for once, be the hunter instead of the hunted.
So why, for the love of Shamrock, isn't the UFC making this Aldo's first fight after his defense against Erik Koch at UFC 153?
This is the fight people care about. Edgar has established his bonafides and then some at 155 pounds. Putting him in a perfunctory tune-up fight at 145 pounds is not just taking a huge risk that disaster may strike, it's letting the steam evaporate while the fight is hot.
Fans haven't been crashing down the UFC's door to see Aldo or Edgar. This time, though, I hear them knocking. Time for the UFC to answer and give the fans what we want to see.