Days after Colby Covington’s outrageous comments inside the octagon at UFC Fight Night 119, are we now at the point where we should at least appreciate the media attention he has created for himself?
It might be difficult to admire his choice of words, but he is using legitimate strategy and blueprint on how to put yourself out there in front of as many fans as possible.
Cash controls everything
Money drives decisions around the world every single day. Mixed martial arts organizations are just like any other corporate entity. Unfortunately for the sport, the temptation (and reality) of money not only influences business decisions but it also has a varied impact on matchmaking.
It is a somewhat unfortunate aspect of this sport that takes away from some of the ‘primal’ feelings that can be just as exciting and entertaining.
In understanding this, a fighter can create their own ‘fast lane’ by creating masses of followers (whether good or bad). The road to a marquee matchup for a mixed martial artist who has drawn plenty of attention is much quicker than one who remains silent. If a fighter can prove that they put fans in seats and in front of TV’s, they will likely be given greater opportunities within the sport.
After all, mixed martial arts is about entertainment.
The entertainment factor
Fans become more attached to the result depending on whether they are a supporter or ‘hater’ of a particular athlete, rather than just a neutral feeling. This, of course, creates more excitement for fans.
As strange as it may seem, the differences between professional wrestling and MMA are becoming increasingly blurred.
Professional wrestling is purely entertainment. No one can argue that MMA is on the entirely opposite end of the spectrum.
It is a bizarre model when you think about it. Basketball, football, and baseball succeed despite teams and players feeling no obligation to be entertaining. Their objective is to be competitive.
However, an NBA game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will attract a larger audience than a game between two teams at the bottom of their respective divisions.
This is where the most noticeable of dissimilarities arises. The NBA cannot just schedule the Cavaliers and Warriors against each other every night. Alternatively, MMA organizations are almost entirely in control of what fights they make and they effectively control the path of a fighter.
So, how can a mixed martial artist forge their own path? They must draw attention, and there’s no easier way to draw attention than by manipulating the media.
Understanding the media
It might seem audacious to break down how the media works in as little as one section, but it is actually quite simple.
Firstly, you must know that the measure of success for media outlets, blogs, and journalists worldwide is page views.
Because ad revenue is paid ‘per click’ regardless of the actual quality of the post, blogs often do somewhat inconsiderate and unethical things.
The media industry has transformed remarkably over the years, and it is only when you think about the existing model today compared to previous ones when you realize how and why some of these antics exist today.
Previously, subscription models were common. Whether it was newspaper or online, to boost your subscribers (and profits), an outlet would aim to provide the very best content. The most honest and real journalism would be rewarded in this system.
But now, with the way the internet is structured, the media presents information in an entirely different way. It is a digital war zone in which blogs battle to create the biggest and best headline. A headline that makes you want to click it rather than the 10+ similar ones on the same page. Headlines that generate fear, excitement, anger or laughter almost always do profoundly better than any other.
Without diving into further detail, it is these headline wars that are the reason we see less decent analytics of the sport and more controversial and bizarre headlines.
Colby Covington and why being offensive works
So when Colby Covington calls Brazilians ‘filthy animals’, it sends media into a craze. Every blog is desperately racing to produce a story on Covington’s crazy post-fight speech because it will generate a tremendous number of page views.
To put it to the test: which of these headlines is most likely to score a ‘click’?
- Colby Covington scores decision victory over Demian Maia
- Colby Covington calls Brazilians ‘filthy animals’
Of course, it is the latter. Covington has written a successful headline for every MMA blog. It strikes emotion in audiences, and that is precisely why people read and share these types of articles.
Because this headline is guaranteed to score plenty of readers and gather attention, it actually forces media outlets to cover the story whether or not they would prefer to. Denying to write about Covington’s actions is commercial suicide. It would not make any sense. After all, it would be a relatively effortless post that attracts many viewers and ad revenue. Compare this to a detailed analysis on how Colby Covington defeated Demian Maia (which takes plenty of effort and wouldn’t draw as many views), and you can see why outlets are operating the way they are.
Whether Colby Covington is genuinely behind what he is saying (he probably is) also doesn’t matter. He recognizes that his post-fight interview is almost a bigger platform to create media attention than the fight itself and uses it to serve his best interests.
Covington’s post-fight actions created more disruption than his win over Demian Maia, and it is not surprising when you understand how all of this works.
While it is a wildly successful tactic, there’s an interesting debate to be had on whether the UFC should sanction this behavior. However, if you have read all of this, you will also understand that the increased attention on Colby Covington and controversy actually benefits the UFC.
What do you think? Is Colby ahead of the game in some ways?
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