Every sport has its stars and the UFC is no different. Every MMA fan knows who Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre are. The difference between the UFC and other pro organizations such as MLB, NBA , NHL and the NFL is that MMA fans don’t have a town or team to identify with. UFC fans aren’t rushing in the masses to buy walkout tees like one would buy a jersey in another sport. The passion from a fan towards a fighter stems from their relatable interest in them, and not necessarily what camp they train in.

Take, for example, Cain Velasquez. My Grandpa doesn’t know Jon Jones from Alexander Gustafsson, but he watched a UFC Primetime episode featuring the heavyweight champion and enjoyed his story so much that he became a fan.

Perhaps this is why the UFC focuses its television specials on the main and co-main events of a particular card, but one has to wonder if it would be more beneficial for the promotion to shed some light on the fighters we don’t know anything about. Perhaps sprinkling a little attention on the guys who have worked their butts off just as hard as the headliners would allow fans to grab onto a storyline.

The big guns of the UFC are already known and they are featured in commercials and media events. For the most part we know the story of the champions and top contenders. In many cases we can also predict how they are going to answer various questions leading up to a fight because we’ve heard from them time and time again. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear about the trials and tribulations of some of the guys who are trying to climb the ranks? I believe it would, and I also believe it would allow more fans to latch on to a fighter that they might not have otherwise.

An example I came across leading up to UFC 163 was the match-up between John Lineker and Jose Maria Tome. Lineker has won 15 of his last 16 fights and Tome hasn’t lost in his last 18 fights. Yet, to my surprise, most major media outlets and the majority of fans have no idea who either one of these fighters are. When the value of a pay-per-view stems from what we know of the fighters on the card, one would think it would be prudent for the UFC to highlight two fighters such as these men leading up to the event in an effort to give fans more of a reason to tune in.

We’re already tuning in for Jose Aldo and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, but the most common thing we are going to hear from people about this card is that they don’t know any of these guys. Heck, there could probably be an entire mini-series done on Ian McCall, but the UFC has barely scraped the surface with him.

The point is that if the UFC wants to bring in fans and have them feel a serious interest in a fight, then the promotion needs to do a better job of presenting storylines for more than just two fights on the card. If the people at NBC can get us to feel attached to a horse before the start of the Kentucky Derby, surely somebody can get us emotionally involved with a fighter outside of the headliners for a major UFC event.

Photo: Jose Maria Tome (R) (Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.