Last week, I wrote about how the scenery-eating antics of characters like Conor McGregor are a necessary evil in the big top world of fight media. The stage and mics are made for posture and audacity, civil versions of the Octagon’s native elbows and knees and, arguably, just as effective. Because talk is not cheap, especially in the fight game.

No, the wheels of our glorious on-chugging machine of entertainment are greased by words — a round-riot of verbal media popping around fights like camera lights sparkling in the every-man’s land of bleachers. It’s distracting, it’s distortive, but it’s also fun.

Without the parasitic vine of media in sports, there’d be nothing to swing from. These peripheral tracts of predictive verse and analysis give us all something to latch on to, something to debate and crow about, something to celebrate, and the sport of MMA would be vacuum-bound without them. As much of a bore as politics is, imagine how it would be if it weren’t constellated by bickering news broadcasters and petty TV ads. Imagine if politics was confined to forthright discussions of legislature. Sure, we’d probably be living in a utopia right now, but like any sci-fi world of perfection something about it just wouldn’t feel quite human.

So to cap off last week’s argument about the necessity of the big show and big loudmouth characters in MMA I wanted to talk about two muted counterparts, who, as a result, haven’t gotten the hype they deserve leading up to their bout on Saturday. Phil Davis and Glover Teixeira are solid, top flight fighters with impressive win lists: Teixeira with wins over Rampage Jackson, Ryan Bader, and James Te Huna, and Davis with wins over Lyoto Machida and Alexander Gustafsson — both with resumes that the likes of Conor McGregor may only ever dream of (we’ll see).

But regardless, the bleachers won’t sparkle for these two. Looking through the usual outlets, I’ve found the coverage of their bout to be scant — the fight’s greatest means of publicity arising from the source in the form of a UFC countdown video, which has, as this is written, a count of just over 71,000 views. Not really that much, considering. For example, compare this co-main event video to the one released a month ago for McGregor’s fight with Poirer at UFC 178 (two fights away from the main event), which has over 430,000 views. And remember that these are “Countdown” videos, which typically receive most of their views before the event. This inequity is an account of McGregor’s character value (not the kind that your parents tried to give you) contrasting with the on-paper value of Teixeira and Davis.

Tabloid talk sells, even in MMA. But to gripe would be a bit hypocritical of me, as what could have been an article dedicated to delving into the merits of Davis and Teixeira has devolved into a piece about publicity’s haves and have-nots. So why don’t Davis and Teixeira have that special gloss that makes them camera gold? Well, one obvious reason is that neither possesses a very inflammatory character. Teixeira, to me, comes off as pleasant and relaxedly aged, despite the fury with which he cuts into the heavy bag. Whether he’s being interviewed or just walking around his new gym, he has the bearing of a dad at a family BBQ. With those easy eyes and slack cheeks, he just looks too, well, comfortable to incite the media blitz that hyperthyroid pit bulls like Nick Diaz receive.

On the other hand, Phil Davis is the young, smiling all-American college kid. Well educated and articulate, when he answers interview questions you expect to see him put his hand up. He’s the likeable and sort of awkward kind of guy you’d like to have in your biology lab group. Where he differentiates from Teixeira is in his potential for media glory. If he wins the belt, I think that his personality earns him the same Young Captain America persona that has graced Chris Weidman (who’s also one of these extremely likeable, hardworking fighter types). As of now, though, he’ll have to keep striving, and not for fame either. I’m not arguing for that. I wouldn’t want either of these fighters to change their ways to capture media attention. Sure, as I mentioned before, shutter snaps are good for the sport and for its fighters, but that doesn’t mean that if you lack charisma (negative or whatever), you’re hopeless. There’s still a way, and it lies in great performances. All fighters, even the beige but worthy types like Davis and Teixeira, are just one memorable fight away from the public eye. And between Davis’s textbook wrestling and Teixeira’s Tyson-inspired boxing, I think that both have the ability to give the evocative hell-of-a-show we’re waiting for. It’s just a matter of time, perhaps a matter of this Saturday.

About The Author

Paul French
Staff Writer

Paul French is a martial arts enthusiast currently residing in Cloudcroft, N.M. He's the former Managing Editor for the literary magazine, Puerto del Sol, and has had poetry published in Word Riot, Harpur Palate and Slipstream. Paul has trained in Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo and Jiu-Jitsu.