The UFC and Georges St-Pierre have been in business together for a number of years and it has served them both very well. With UFC 167 just around the corner, their choice of tagline for the event has raised an eyebrow.
“The Power to Shock the World”
It is clearly a reference to the power that Johny Hendricks has in those hands of his and his ability to deliver knock-out power in his punches. UFC 167 is setting up to be the biggest challenge of Georges St-Pierre’s current reign as welterweight champion. Not since Thiago Alves at UFC 100 has GSP fought an opponent with this amount of power, but power is where the comparisons end between Hendricks and Alves. GSP was comfortable striking with Alves as he could see the strikes coming from the sixth row, whereas with Hendricks those punches will be on him much quicker and with much less time to react.
The tagline of this event is certainly a concession from the UFC that they may feel this could mark the end of GSP’s current streak of title defenses. Having watched each of Georges fights since he entered the UFC, several of them live, I approach this fight with the least amount of certainty ever for a victory and keeping the belt north of the border. With that said, I’m still surprised to see marketing from the UFC that arguably is tilted against their golden boy.
When I think of the punch that Matt Serra landed ending St-Pierre’s first reign as welterweight champion or the head-kick from Carlos Condit that had anyone watching jump to their feet and wonder if Condit would be the one to “shock the world”, the question remains unanswered whether or not GSP is going to be able to absorb a powerful strike from Hendricks and keep coming forward. This is a fight that could have the champion up four rounds to none heading into the fifth and Hendricks still enters the final round with a punchers chance.
Coming back to the marketing surrounding UFC 167 and the tagline of shocking the world, I cannot recall in recent history of pay-per-view events the marketing of a fight seemingly favouring the challenger. Jon Jones going into his title fight with then champion Shogun Rua at UFC 128, clearly the challenger was entering as the favorite and the marketing around it was neutral. Going back further to UFC 91 with then champion Randy Couture taking on challenger Brock Lesnar, the tagline of that fight was “The Biggest Fight in UFC History!” In either of those two fights, the challenger entered with much better odds of victory than Hendricks does at UFC 167.
I have no objection to the shock the world reference and it is absolutely fitting, I just cannot think of an example of marketing from the UFC where the underdog challenger is who the marketing was most favorable. If GSP prevails and retains his welterweight championship, it is hardly a shock to the world. If Hendricks comes out victorious, it is almost certainly going to be via knock-out and it will absolutely be what the tagline is promising.
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