Why We Look for Closers

Posted: July 28, 2010 in Bellator, Marketing, PR, Strikeforce, UFC

Here in Boston there are few things that register more cheers than being in Fenway Park when“Shipping up to Boston,” hits the sound system.  It has a distinct message: the Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon, is being sent into the game.  Fans love a closer.  They love trusting someone to get in, get the job done and get the W.

This is no different in MMA.

Fans like seeing a fighter that can go in, get the job done – and leave no question as to who the winner is.  They want the KO of the night or the submission of the night.  No one – especially the fighters – wants to see a fight go the judges score card.  The problem with this black and white way of viewing the fight world can muddy the waters.

This mentality becomes that of unfairly viewing some athletes as a“boring fighter.”  This is the belief that someone can’t finish a fight and just goes out to win by points.  GSP is a perfect example of the victim of this mentality.  GSP has manhandled his last two opponents, but since it went to the judges he is now someone that can’t “finish.”  I disagree with this mentality with every fiber of my being.  Those fights were finished the minute the cage door closed.  There was no doubt that he defeated Alves or Hardy.  However for some fans that is not enough.

In my book a W is a W, however, I’ll admit there is some business value to those that can ‘finish’ in a fashion the crowds want.  What power does a closer possess?

  • Fan Power – Yeah, you’re thinking “duh.” But what does this equate? More than just cheers and hand-made signs in the crowd.  Drawing the crowd is money in the bank for a fighter and for an organization.  If you can pack a house, you’re going to be at the top of a card’s billing.
  • Brand Power – If you can build your personal brand, you will have access to the world of big brand sponsors.  No longer will small mom and pop shops be on your shorts you’ll have companies the entire world will recognize.
  • Monetary Power – This is another “duh” but needs to be said.  In addition to fans spending money on your products, brands paying to be associated with you, you get the chance to win Fight of the night, KO of the night or Sub of the night by being ‘a Closer.’  Since that can mean up to 75K more in your pocket for a  big show, I’d say that makes it worthwhile.

Next month UFC 117 will pit both “The Closer” and “The Boring Fighter,” against one another for the middleweight championship.  Champion Anderson Silva will defend against challenger Chael Sonnen.  How do you think this fight will finish?

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