Greg Hardy is a draw, we might as well get that out of the way. It may taste like ash and many of you won’t like it, but it’s the reality that we face. If Hardy is featured on a poster, some will spit on it and huff with disgust, then the building fills, and people make sure to see him try his hand in the cage.
Many spend years tearing their body to shreds in order to gain the skills to reach the highest level of the sport. Some reach the summit of that insurmountable mountain, set records, win championships, and sit atop the pound for pound list for years on end. Sadly, all that skill and different accolades won’t garner the mainstream spotlight, or even earn the endorsements that come with being the most talented fighter on Planet Earth.
No, all it will get you is a trade to Japan for a curly headed wrestler from Iowa. Sure, your peers will respect you like no other and heaps praises, but what does it matter when there’s no money. Why is there no money you ask? Well, it’s simple, because nobody cares.
Thats right, fans don’t care for pure dominance or skill. At least not on its own. Demetrius Johnson ran rampit through the UFC Flyweight division, which lead to a UFC record; eleven title defenses, dethroning the former record holder; the great Anderson Silva along the way to the top of the pack.
None of those accomplishments helped Johnson in drawing an audience, and it was well known that, despite his high level of skill, he wasn’t able to move the needle. The only time fans would gather in support for DJ would be on Twitter, when they picked up their digital torches and marched out to tear down anyone who wasn’t declaring him the best fighter ever.
Greg Hardy has no where even near the skill of a Mighty Mouse, and to think he will reach the heights of Johnson would be a stretch, but one thing is for certain, He will draw more and make more money.
While Hardy is maybe devoid of the high level of skill and a title shot is still quite a way off, Greg has one of the best drawing factors a fighter can have, hatred.
To give some context, Hardy had been previously charged with domestic violence, convicted, but managed to dodge any repercussions when the victim failed to testify when Greg appealed. To add to the horrible act, when interviewed about his past actions he is content to play coy, further igniting the hatred and discontent amongst fans and media alike.
Hardy has had generous card placement, since being signed by the UFC. People can hate it as much as they want, but the reality is the man makes money and will continue to make people watch him.
Now Hardy isn’t some innovator of this concept. Tito Ortiz made a living by being the bad guy, which stemmed from his rivalry with Ken Shamrock to his battles with “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell. If there’s one thing for sure its people love to see people fall, therein lies Hardy’s meal ticket.
His athletic ability won’t be his bread and butter, the fans will pack the arena to watch him fail, his job is to disappoint them and send them further into their rage. There’s two factors needed for this to work.
Hardy Must Be At Risk
What I mean by this is, fans have to believe that the guy who Hardy is fighting is a threat to him. If the UFC elected to feed cans to Hardy the fans would see through it and have no interest in seeing it. There is very little chance of the wanted pay off, as everyone would expect Hardy to steam-roll the competition. People want to see Hardy face down snoozing in the middle of the cage.
Now this is one of the dangers to this form of drawing. The UFC will want to milk the Hardy act for every cent its worth, so bringing him up slow could lead to his drawing power fizzling. Why watch this guy, you already dislike just run over some outmatched smuck and parade around the cage in victory?
The UFC has been upping the game each time Hardy has stepped in there and its been just enough risk so that the viewing public feel they have a chance to see the villain slain.
He Must Win
Pretty self explanatory, he must keep winning. If Hardy goes on any form of losing streak the interest in him will dissipate. Much like the anticipation for that new movie release. Waiting eagerly for it to come to the local theater, then finally it arrives. Get the tickets and settle in for the show, but once that movie is over, and the ending is known, it doesn’t have the same appeal.
Hardy’s ability to draw a crowd is dependent on him being successful in the cage. He’s one devastating loss away from having his appeal diminish considerably. The minute he gets derailed is the day he losses a ton of the drawing power he once had. People got the ending they wanted, sure watching him taking a beat down, but with his streak ended the wanted outcome is attained. The Hardy act would be over.
Add in the first factor of the needed belief of him being beaten, this is a very difficult path to take. If the UFC are to showcase Hardy and squeeze the most juice, they will need to keep pushing him up the rankings. The UFC can pull back the reigns at any time to help Hardy grow as an MMA athlete, but with the amount of interest he draws i don’t see that being the case.
The issue with Hardy is his success. Had he flew under the radar and gotten bounced out of the UFC in two fights it would have been fine. People would have barely noticed him, outside of the few media outlets who would have picked up his story for some quick clicks.
We don’t care that he’s fighting, we care that he’s succeeding as a fighter. The fact he is getting top billing and being hyped is killing us as a viewing public. For the things he did he shouldn’t be given these opportunities and it grinds the gears of the detractors.
Hardy will draw a crowd, people want to see him fail and they will tune in with that hope every time. When he falls for the first time the fans will rejoice at the sight, but more than anything they will be happy that he has failed. No longer can he be considered an undefeated fighter, no longer will he be a blue chip prospect, and they can stop seeing him featured on the main card. So, as we wash the awful taste from out mouths, let us say it together.
"Greg Hardy is a draw".