Am I missing something? Are fans of mixed martial arts enthused by Saturday’s main event between Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit at UFC 154 and I’m just not catching it? Sure, the host city of Montreal is abuzz about seeing the man named Sportsnet’s Canadian Athlete of the Year for three consecutive years, but outside of “La Belle Province,” is there a huge desire to witness this fight?
Frankly, it’s hard to tell.
There should be a feeling of anticipation for this fight, fans should be champing at the bit to buy tickets as well as purchase the pay-per-view, but as of Wednesday’s press conference, tickets still remained available for UFC 154, a fact that I find hard to wrap my head around.
This is, after all, one of the top three fighters in the world, competing in what has become his hometown, in front of a fanbase that has become known as one of the most rabid in sports.
Can you imagine Anderson Silva fighting in Brazil and the event not selling out? And I’m not talking Silva defending his UFC middleweight title; I’m thinking Silva vs. anyone. But yet here we are in Montreal, just days away from GSP’s return after a 19-month absence, fighting in a title unification bout and tickets remain available. I just don’t get it.
Seeing St-Pierre fight in Montreal, much like seeing Silva fight in Brazil, should almost be looked at as a pilgrimage of sorts for MMA fans, something they have to do at least once in their lifetime, but they just aren’t doing it.
It makes you wonder why this is happening.
It could be the fact that neither St-Pierre nor his opponent Carlos Condit has fought for a prolonged period of time. We live in a fast-paced society. It’s what have you done for me lately and if you haven’t done anything for fans in 19 months, best pound-for-pound fighter in the world or not, some fans are going to pass you by.
The old saying is that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but in today’s fast-paced world, where the news cycle seems to be counted in seconds, that may no longer be true, especially in the sports world. Perhaps absence has allowed the heart and mind to forget about St-Pierre and Condit and move on.
GSP vs. Condit
Maybe it’s the fact that neither St-Pierre nor Condit seems to anxious to step up and say, “I am the champion, this is my belt to lose.” Instead, at Wednesday’s press conference we had Condit, “Until I beat him, he (GSP) remains the champion” and St-Pierre claiming he was looking at the fight as a title shot, “I don’t want anything less than a title shot and fighting the best man in the division is Carlos Condit.”
It’s possible the lack of buzz is due to the lack of conflict between the two fighters. For some reason fans love conflict, they love the trash talk, whether it be manufactured and pre-scripted or not.
There has been none of that drama between St-Pierre and Condit. It’s been strictly praise and respect, each fighter building up his opponent whenever the conversations have turned in that direction, something that some fans may term as boring.
Finally, the lack of anticipation may be due to the fact that UFC cards just don’t feel as special as they once did. It seems as if every weekend there’s an event happening, and maybe the promotion has reached that tipping point in supply and demand, where the supply is outweighing the demand.
I don’t think anyone in the UFC is in a state of panic about this card not selling out, there are still a few days left for fans to pick up tickets, and walk-ups should be able to fill the Bell Centre, but it still feels strange to know that you could walk up to the box office and purchase tickets right now.
There’s always the possibility that the enthusiasm for UFC 154’s main event is just bubbling under the surface, ready to explode like Mentos dropped into a bottle of Coke. This is what I would like to believe. I don’t want to think that fans look at seeing one of the best fighters ever to step into the Octagon as something other than a truly special event.
**press conference quotes obtained first hand by BR MMA