The Psychology of MMA

Updated: February 25, 2011

Jorge RiveraAs reported by Adam Wells of Bleacher Report:

Jorge Rivera has launched an unprecedented YouTube video campaign that MMA has never seen before—all in order to get under Michael Bisping’s skin—in hopes that the brash Brit will make a tactical error during their upcoming fight. This is psychological of warfare 101—use your enemy’s weakness as your strength. And though not every MMA fan likes it, we’re all interested in the outcome, which accomplishes Rivera’s mission.

Jorge Rivera is 38 years old and is staring retirement in the face. Only the legendary Randy Couture has had a successful MMA career at the highest echelons of the sport into his 40′s and all of us are on the long slide to incontinence and irrelevance.

So Rivera is using his last fit years to make a name for himself. He wants to look out for his future and the future of his family by making money in the sport now. He targeted a bigger name with a hot temper and baited him into taking a fight that he shouldn’t have. Rivera made an in jest video and Bisping put his mouth on the hook. That was a strategic error that Bisping’s future opponents are taking note of.

MMA is not boxing and for the most part, MMA fans do not like the braggadocio and machismo of boxing’s well known trash talkers. But MMA fans also know that a bad blood fight is infinitely more interesting than a boring fight. They spend a lot of money to watch these pay-per-views and is there anything wrong with some extra snuff to make them tune in? We know these guys can fight, some better then others, but what’s wrong with a little bit of showmanship from at least one of the fighters to makes things more interesting, and helps tel (sell) the story. So, Rivera used the incredible power of YouTube to sell a product and make people want to watch. That brings in more pay-per-views, which makes his employer happy; it improves everyone’s bottom line.

For his part, Bisping has held back from true retaliation, but the British middleweight is known for not being able to control his emotions and we all know he’s seething inside at the ridicule—unless of course, he was in on the act from the beginning—and then kudos on the masterful performance. During every pre-fight interview, Bisping is asked about the videos, not about his own skill and career path, not about his desire to bring a UFC belt back to England, but about YouTube. That in itself has to aggravating and his only real comeback is, “I do my talking in the cage.” That’s what every boring fighter says, Mike.

In reality, the pressure is not on Rivera, but rather Bisping. Rivera says Bisping has never knocked anyone out and he uses his cardio and striking to point his way to a decision. This is an undisputed fact and unless Bisping does something spectacular, Rivera will be correct in his accusations.

Bisping counters by saying he wins fights and in the end, that’s all that matters. He says Jorge’s a relic who’s not worthy of this fight and afterward he’ll be back to the undercard, and that very well may pan out. He says he’s going to make a mess of Jorge; he says he’s going to show the world his KO power. So now, Bisping has talked his way into a corner because anything less than a stellar KO of Rivera is a loss to all tuning in.

Whether you laughed at the YouTube videos or cringed, Rivera has accomplished his mission. He’s rattled his opponent’s cage and has gotten people to take interest because he knows that it’s better to go out there and fight like hell than to run around the cage like Kalib Starnes. Whether you love Jorge Rivera or want to see Bisping knock his block off, Rivera has successfully sold a fight, and more of us are buying because of it.

Ask yourself this: Have you ever been so jacked up to watch a Michael Bisping fight?

Hopefully, they don’t ruin it by hugging after the fight is over.




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