Choosing a name that appropriately befits a new-born child is one of the hardest tasks a parent ever has to face, second only to explaining away what you and mummy were doing naked on the trampoline that one time.
In short the best part of nine months is spent toiling over dozens of baby-name books and doing your utmost not to piss-away your kids future inheritance as Granddad insists Albert is making a comeback - all whilst secretly wondering if this new bundle of joy in your life could pull of a 'Brock'.
Get it wrong and the ungrateful scallywag will be legally changing it to ‘War Machine’ the first chance he gets, as ex-UFC fighter and now porn ‘star’ Jon Koppenhaver recently did.
Get it right and little Thor Silva is stepping out at the World MMA awards sporting a kick-ass red Mohawk and tuxedo combination. Although when your old man is none other than Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva, you’ve got to wonder who would dare take the piss anyway.
By comparison the naming of an MMA event should be relatively straightforward. Yet with almost 300 shows between them, the track records of the likes of the UFC, Pride, Strikeforce and WEC are somewhat hit and miss.
Traditionally promotions have followed one of two methods when naming their events. The first option is very much that of ‘safety first’ – the “why risk calling your kid Romeo when later life may prove him to be more Juliet?” approach.
The second option is to throw caution to the wind and go balls to the wall - name thy kid Hulk and Hulk he shall become.
Pride FC (R.I.P) is a good example of how a promotion sought to marry the two schools of thought.
In its infancy it adopted a very safe and pragmatic approach. Using numbers to distinguish its events, Pride 1, 2, 3 and so on, the Japanese organisation only began to flex its creative juices with Pride 9 when it coined the show ‘New Blood’.
With its new found sense of showmanship, later shows included ‘Raging Rumble’, ‘Collision Course’ and ‘Cold Fury’ – a title they liked so much they used it three times.
However Pride was not without its sense of irony. At ‘Unbreakable’ Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua broke his arm in just 41 seconds of a bout with Mark Coleman, whilst the organisation’s last show was rather appropriately entitled ‘Kamikaze’, a damning self-indictment if ever there was one.
Pride was by no means the first, nor will it be the last, to ever use such cheesy and unabashed names. When in doubt an advertising executive’s tried and trusted fallback is a simple one: the clichéd 80’s action movie title. And no promotion has a longer rap sheet in that respect than the UFC.
Notably bad standouts include ‘Boiling Point’, ‘Ultimate Bad Boyz’, ‘Hostile Territory’ and the somewhat overstated ‘Knockout’ – a card that featured not a single (T)KO despite playing host to knock-out connoisseurs Chuck Liddell and Shogun Rua. Yet lame-arsed titles weren’t always the order of the day.
The UFC began life on 12th November 1993 to a live audience of just 2.800. Billed as ‘no holds barred’ the event revelled in its bare-knuckle and “anything goes” facade. How it therefore avoided the fate of so many of its successors is one of life’s little mysteries.
Instead of sporting a title that belonged on the sleeve of a straight-to-VHS Van Damme movie, UFC 1 was rather eloquently entitled, ‘The Beginning’.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it is hard to imagine a more poignant or befitting title for such a historical landmark. It wouldn’t last however. By UFC 8 the advertising execs were getting somewhat lazy (‘Ultimate Ultimate’) and by UFC 10 they took to stating the plain obvious (‘The Tournament’).
Still, for every unfashionable name there have been some real classics, none more so perhaps than the timeless ‘versus’.
The first card to ever feature the actual names of the fighters in the title was that of ‘Couture vs. Liddell 2’ at UFC 53 (their first meeting being at UFC 43’s ‘Meltdown’).
Since then some truly superstar names have had their name up in lights; Ortiz vs. Shamrock, St Pierre vs. Penn, Hughes vs. Gracie (and Penn), Couture vs. Lesnar and more recently Aldo vs. Faber. With names like those strap lining events and accompanying promotional posters any other hyperbole is largely redundant - Fight cards like those give you exactly what they say on the tin.
However the current trend in naming convention appears to put be putting the more outlandish and colourful ‘High Octane’s’ of this world on the endangered species list. Across the last twenty shows for each of the UFC, Strikeforce and WEC the scorecard is 48-12 in favour of the more traditional ‘vs.’
The trend looks set to continue as the next three UFC’s all adopt the ‘versus’ option, beginning with ‘Jones vs. Matyushenko’ on August 1st.
However whatever your preference maybe, a name is only a name and a fight card will ultimately be judged upon the quality of the entertainment it brings to the table. Perhaps part of that entertainment though lays in the flamboyancy of the name itself, the opportunity to applaud or snigger at the latest ‘Locked and Loaded?'
Names very often come and go in cycles, and what was once very fashionable soon becomes very un-cool (Britney anyone?). But at least with a ‘Four Men Enter, One Man Survives’, you know someone, somewhere, has made an effort.
Here’s hoping the garish event name makes one last ‘Comeback’.
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