Trash talk is a form of building up hype for a fight. It’s not a bad thing, especially when the athletes are going back and forth with each other with color-free banter. It gives the fans something to talk about and the media something to report on. The banter between fighters is not always clean and sometimes tends go to the far left and become more personal than professional.
Is trash talk good or bad for the UFC?
I have always been a firm believer in the good guy-bad guy scenario. When it comes to a fight, somebody has to be the good guy and somebody must play the part of the villain. This helps sell a fight and kind of forces the fans to choose a side. For example, when Conor fought Khabib; the stuff Conor was saying gave the perception of him being the bad guy and the way Khabib handled himself leading up to the fight, he was viewed as the good guy (until he jumped over the cage after the fight).
This is also a case when trash talk crossed the line. Trash talk should be directed towards your opponent- not their family, religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Just like those topics are not broached during a job interview, they shouldn’t be used in trash talk. Downplaying your opponent’s skill while talking up yours should be enough, plus we as fans tend to base our opinions on a fighter’s skill compared to their opponents to help us form an opinion on who should win a fight.
Recently, Jorge Masvidal knocked out Ben Askren and after the fight Masvidal did some things to mock Askren as he laid unconscious. Many thought Masvidal’s antics were tasteless and warranted a fine from the UFC. But, let’s take a step back. Prior to the fight, Askren called Jorge “George” and referred to a past grappling match between the two. Askren insinuated that he dominated that match. During the build up to the fight, Masvidal remained silent and skipped seemingly all the media events, while Ben did a lot of trash talking. Some fans felt Masvidal’s post fight antics were okay, since he let his skill do the talking in the octagon.
In recent years, the growing severity of fighter’s trash talking with opponents has grown. Some of the more severe pre-fight and post-fight antics have found fighters in hot water with the various athletic commissions. Recently, the Nevada State Athletic Commission announced that they have grown tired of the mounting severity of trash talking leading up to fights and could impose fines in some cases. Dana White balked at this idea stating, “I think it’s crazy, I think it’s insane, I think it’s unconstitutional,” and basically stated fighters can settle their differences in the octagon.
Trash talk has and will always be a form of selling fights. Combat sports main marketing tool is the fighters helping sell fights by making public appearances, doing media photo ops and trash talk. Trash talk however, should have unwritten rules that say family, religion, sexual orientation, and ethnicity are a no-go.