Ever since Chael Sonnen secured a shot at Jon Jones' UFC light heavyweight title, it has become a topic of conversation.
Sonnen again used his trash talk to earn himself a shot at a UFC title. He did so before with a barrage of harsh criticism and veiled threats leading up to his rematch with Anderson Silva. Granted, Sonnen did win a pair of fights against top middleweight competition prior to the loss, but it was his verbal bravado that really set the second meeting between the two in motion.
In a sport that is starting to mix in entertainment to go along with its skill and toughness, is the easy way to a title shot to now talk your way towards it rather than climbing up the ladder through winning fights? The stars of UFC 156's main card don't think so.
"I don’t think it’s correct, but it doesn’t bother me," UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo said during a pre-fight press conference for UFC 156. "Each person has to fight. Each person has to create opportunity within their career. It’s not the path that I’d like to take. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t make me mad.
"The way I feel is that everyone should go out there and fight. Go through opponents and earn their opportunity to fight for the title, not talk their way into it."
Aldo's opponent, Frankie Edgar, has never competed in the featherweight division inside the UFC. He jumped ahead of Erik Koch, Chad Mendes and a handful of other challengers for a shot at Aldo's title. Edgar says that the decision had nothing to do with him or any comments he made prior to the bout.
"It’s not my job to pick fights. That’s Joe Silva and Dana White," Edgar said. "Whatever fights they think are going to sell, that’s what they are going to put on. People want to see these fights, so that’s what’s going to happen.
"When I first went down, no, I wasn’t expecting an immediate title shot. I was willing to do what I had to do to get myself into this position. Being that Aldo’s opponent got hurt and I jumped in and accepted a replacement fight, this is how it goes."
Rashad Evans, who returns to action against fellow veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on Saturday night, understands that despite the frustration of fighters who get passed by on title shots, the UFC has to put together fights that are going to attract the public.
"One thing we have to remember is that the sport is entertainment other than the actual fighting," Evans said. "The UFC has a job to do in putting fights together than people show interest in. With the schedule they have going now, it’s hard to make every single fight interesting, but I do give the UFC credit for putting fights together that people want to see.
"Despite who gets what fight or who gets a title shot, the cream will rise to the top and the best guys will be fighting for the championship when it comes down to it. I don’t get annoyed by it. I don’t look at other guys and what they have and say ‘Aw man, that should be me’. When it’s my time, it’ll be my time again."
Whether the UFC will continue its recent trend of handing title shots to fighters that will sell pay-per-views remains to be seen. One thing is certain though. Above everything else, a fighter wouldn't even have the opportunity to trash talk his way to a title shot if his fighting prowess never got him to that spot in the first place.
Previous entry: Video: Countdown to UFC 156