Are you wondering whether the UFC is fake like the WWE?
The WWE is well known for being performance theater, where fighting, dialogue, promotion, matchmaking, and everything else are scripted and choreographed for entertainment purposes.
In this article, we’ll look at whether the UFC is fake like WWE by going through any instances of scripting.
- Is UFC Fake in Terms of Fighting?
- Is UFC Fake in Terms of Matchmaking?
- Is UFC Fake in Terms of Pre-Fight Hype and Trash Talking?
- Is UFC Fake in Terms of Controversial Decisions?
- Have Former UFC Fighters Called Them Out?
- Is UFC Fake? – To Conclude
Is UFC Fake in Terms of Fighting?
The UFC features real fights that aren’t scripted in any way. However, some matchmaking and ways they promote fights are somewhat scripted or set up.
Questions about the UFC’s authenticity came in 2008 when they gave a contract to WWE superstar Brock Lesnar. This is because he had no MMA experience and was entering the UFC from a scripted organization, the WWE.
However, Brock Lesnar lost his first fight against Frank Mir (UFC 81) via kneebar, quickly putting to bed the idea that fighting in the UFC is fake. It also brought to light how bringing inexperienced MMA fighters to the UFC is unwise because they could get seriously injured by skilled martial artists.
Regardless, far from fake was how the UFC raised the price of the pay-per-view from $39,95 to $44.95, just prior to UFC 81. For the UFC, bringing in Lesnar paid off as UFC 81 became the third highest-grossing UFC event (2008), with 650,000 pay-per-view buys.
So, although UFC fighting was clarified as being real, it made fans question whether UFC matchmaking was scripted just to make the promotion money, rather than organizing legitimate fights between the most skillful fighters.
Is UFC Fake in Terms of Matchmaking?
The other thing causing fans to question whether the UFC is fake regards UFC matchmaking and how fighters get title shots too easily; being similar to the WWE which preselects its wrestlers to have title fights and become the champion.
Brock Lesnar after his first loss went on to beat Heath Herring in his second fight to have an all-time MMA record of 1-1, which the UFC deemed as enough to warrant a title shot.
Giving a title shot to a martial artist with two professional fights obviously causes people to think the UFC is fake as it reduces the integrity of the promotion.
However, Brock Lesnar trained hard, was a highly skilled wrestler, and was also a mountain of a man, often towering over his opponents. He went on to become the UFC heavyweight champion and successfully defend his title twice, before losing to Cain Valesquez in 2010 (UFC 121).
The UFC would argue they brought in Brock Lesnar because of his talent and potential, but the way he got a title fight so quickly shows it was a business move to bring more fans and money to the UFC.
This means the UFC matchmaking can be considered scripted and set up to create money fights, at the expense of pairing the best and most deserving martial artists.
Here are some other questionable UFC decisions making people believe the UFC is fake or scripted:
Conor McGregor’s Lightweight Title Shot
Having never fought in the lightweight division before, McGregor was given a lightweight title shot against Eddie Alvarez, who he beat to become the UFC’s first double champ.
In doing so, the UFC allowed McGregor to bypass all top contenders in the lightweight division in favor of a money fight. This fight generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys, reinforcing their decision in creating the fight as the correct one.
In the UFC’s defense, McGregor was the current featherweight champion, and he’d just had two fights against Nate Diaz in the welterweight division, so it’s clear he could comfortably fight in the lightweight division.
Not only this, but the fans were asking for McGregor vs Alvarez because they wanted to see the first potential UFC double champ, and the UFC obliged.
Ronda Rousey’s Bantamweight Title Shot
The UFC gave Ronda Rousey a title shot against Amanda Nunes (UFC 207) after losing to Holly Holm and not fighting for a year and a half. In doing so she bypassed the bantamweight queue and went ahead of fighters above her in the rankings, such as Misha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, and Holly Holm.
Again, arguably it’s what the fans wanted and it was the fight that made the most sense, which it was because it generated 1.1 million pay-per-views. Regardless, it again shows the UFC matchmaking to be engineered towards money-making.
Inexperienced Fighters Entering the UFC
We’ve established Brock Lesnar as the first inexperienced martial artist to join the UFC, but there were others to follow.
Much like Lesnar, the UFC gave a contract to CM Punk, another WWE wrestler coming to the UFC from a scripted organization, and who was entering without any MMA experience aged 40.
The UFC knew CM Punk was extremely inexperienced, but didn’t care and brought in CM Punk for publicity, viewers, and money; after they saw how successful bringing in Brock Lesnar was for the promotion.
This decision backfired, as CM Punk looked out of place and was beaten up in his 2 only fights, and released before a third fight (UFC contracts are usually 3 fights).
Sage Northcutt is another example of an inexperienced fighter joining the UFC, as he earned a contract with an MMA record of 5-0 at the age of 19. The UFC thought bringing in Sage as a future star would be a good long-term investment, despite him being a young and inexperienced fighter.
However, despite going 6-2 in his first 8 UFC fights, he was given fights high up the rankings way too soon and didn’t look ready, with the UFC soon realizing their mistake and deciding not to renew his contract because of this – Dana White stated, “Sage is young, and Sage needs some work”.
The Creation of Unnecessary Interim Title Fights
Another reason fans question whether the UFC is fake is the creation of unnecessary interim title fights, which they believe have no justification other than to have the words title and championship mentioned, to hype a card and sell more pay-per-views.
This was most evident at UFC 206 when a number of injuries to headliner Cormier and other fighters weakened the card significantly. To counter this, the UFC created a featherweight interim title fight between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis, where Pettis was 1-3 going into the title fight – not exactly the form expected when challenging for gold.
Another unnecessary interim title fight was created between Poirier and Holloway, which saw Holloway fight in the lightweight division for the first time and skip ahead of all lightweight contenders.
Here, the UFC was giving Holloway the opportunity to win this fight and have a chance at beating Khabib to become another UFC double champ. However, it’s another situation where it’s evident the interim fight was created for money purposes.
BMF Title and Belt Creation
Similar to interim fights, the BMF title and belt were created as a marketing tool to help the UFC promote the fight, and boost sales by turning the event into a pay-per-view – where a fight between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz is never going to be a title fight otherwise.
This is the reason people are critical of the belt and call it a fake or gimmick, as well as believing the UFC to be fake because they’re creating belts out of thin air, much like they do in WWE for promotional purposes.
Is UFC Fake in Terms of Pre-Fight Hype and Trash Talking?
Yet another reason people believe the UFC to be fake, is because of scripted octagon appearances and rehearsed trash-talking, among other ways of hyping up fights.
The most widely criticized event occurred after Cormier beat Stipe at UFC 226. Here, Cormier called out Lesnar from the crowd, who entered the octagon and shoved Cormier, which started a WWE-like argument in the ring; looking extremely scripted and disingenuous.
What made it worse was the fact people knew there wasn’t bad blood between them, and Cormier refused to own up to it being staged, replying, “Staged, they’re idiots, — fine… Stay broke. You’ve got a guy like Brock Lesnar in front of you and you don’t go crazy on him?”.
This was evidently a UFC tactic used to immediately hype a new fight with Lesnar, and Cormier was more than happy to go along with it if it meant he made money from it. Lesnar entering the octagon would’ve happened regardless of who won the fight.
What a way to downplay your new title as the UFC undisputed heavyweight champion, by challenging someone who has multiple steroid suspensions and hasn’t fought in 2 years, and 5 years prior to that, where he lost both fights.
Thankfully to save the UFC’s integrity, the fight never happened due to the large fan backlash, who felt Lesnar had done nothing to warrant a title shot (which he hadn’t), and that Stipe Miocic deserved a rematch.
Also, Lesnar wasn’t willing to fight without steroids and get tested by USADA for 6 months, which is the main reason the fight fell through. Ultimately, the whole Lesnar and Cormier fiasco damaged the UFC’s reputation and made them seem extremely fake and money-hungry.
UFC Fighters With Heel Personas
The other thing making the UFC seem fake and scripted, is how many of the fighters have heel personas to hype fights through trash-talking, much like how the WWE has actors and scripts to promote events.
Not only this, but UFC fighters with heel personas and the ability to cause drama and controversy are more readily pushed by the UFC, so there’s an element of scripting involved.
Here’s a list of UFC fighters with known personas:
Colby Covington – Colby was relatively unknown and in the background of the UFC until he turned heel in 2017, when he suddenly started supporting Trump, wore maga caps, mouthed off at any given opportunity, and even changed his walkout music to WWE Kurt Angle’s ‘You Suck’ theme. By becoming one of the most hated and known fighters in 2019 and beyond, he saved his UFC career as it was looking like he’d be cut.
Jorge Masvidal – Masvidal came back in 2018 after a year out of the octagon and had grown his hair and beard; with fans referring to him as “Street Jesus” and Jorge saying he was “baptizing people with his hands”. This persona earned him a fight against Nate Diaz where he was victorious to become the BMF title and belt winner.
Conor McGregor – He wouldn’t have been the star he was without his pre-fight hype and trash-talking. He’d seen how successful Bisping and Sonnen had been with it, and because of his showmanship and wit, the UFC had a new cash cow who they would promote and push forward at any opportunity.
Chael Sonnen – Chael was the first to really develop a trash-talking persona, and it started in 2010 with attacks against Anderson Silva and his team. His trash-talking and pre-fight hype made his fights with Silva one of the biggest PPV draws of that era, while their second fight was the highest UFC PPV in 2012. Added to this were doping and fraud, which completed his bad-boy image and justification for his nickname, “The American Gangster”.
These are all UFC fighters who flipped a switch to become trash-talking bad boys, which the UFC promotes and pushes in press conferences and other media avenues; because they know it generates more pay-per-view buys.
It’s not that the UFC is giving fighters lines to rehearse, but fighters are definitely rehearsing lines to use at conferences; which makes trash-talking and hyping appear scripted by the UFC.
However, not all trash-talking is fake and business-minded, as some fighters genuinely dislike one another and abuse each as a form of psychological warfare.
A good example of this is the feud between McGregor and Khabib, whose trash-talking went so far that it turned into a post-fight brawl and suspensions for both (UFC 229).
Overall, Dana White prides himself on giving the fans the fights they want to see, and if a fighter can use wit and trash talk to hype a potential fight and get fans excited, the UFC welcomes it and pushes certain fighters forward.
Is UFC Fake in Terms of Controversial Decisions?
There have been many instances of controversial refereeing and judging decisions, leading fans to question, is UFC fake?
Here are some of the most controversial judging decisions leading to accusations of the UFC being scripted:
Shogun Rua vs Lyota Machida (UFC 104)
All three judges scored the fight 48-47 for defending champion, Machida. Total strikes were 82 for Rua and 39 for Machida, which saw Rua ahead in every round in a fight having no knockdowns.
There were also no takedowns for either fighter, but Rua attempted 4 takedowns. These takedowns led to dominant clinch positions, on top of the aggressive forward pressure throughout the fight by Rua.
The judging of this fight was inexcusable and the only reason the judges scored the bout in favor of Machida is because of champions bias and Machida being on a 15-fight win streak. It’s also said the judges were awestruck by Machida’s karate fighting style.
Michael Bisping vs Matt Hamill (UFC 75)
One judged score 30-27 for Hamill, while the other two judges scored 29-28 for Bisping.
Hamill had more strikes, 88 to 65, as well as more takedowns, 6/12 compared to zero for Bisping (takedowns were scored in all three rounds). These takedowns led to effective ground and pound from Hamill.
Hamill was also dominant in the clinch and pushed the pace of the fight throughout. The judging here was extremely poor and can be put down to home favor since Bisping was fighting in England.
Although in both examples the judging looked fixed, judges are delegated by the State Athletic Commissions sanctioning an event, and controversial scorecards are common because the MMA can be hard to score; rather than there being any match-fixing occurring.
Here’s one of the most controversial refereeing decisions leading to accusations of the UFC being scripted:
Ion Cutelaba vs Magomed Ankalaev (UFC FN:169)
Ankalaev won the fight via TKO after an incredibly early stoppage by referee Kevin Macdonald, where both fighters were still swinging on their feet. Cutelaba looked wobbly but it was later revealed he was acting hurt as a way to lure Ankalaev into counter shots.
The stoppage was heavily criticized by John McCarthy after it was titled the worst stoppage in UFC history, but this didn’t prevent people from thinking UFC fights are fixed.
However, UFC referees are hired by the UFC from the State Athletic Commissions sanctioning an event, so match-fixing is implausible – controversial refereeing decisions are always officiating errors rather than the UFC being fake or fixed.
Have Former UFC Fighters Called Them Out?
Another thing causing people to believe the UFC is fake is when former UFC fighter, Jason Miller, actually called out the UFC as fake.
Jason said, “it’s all fake. It’s a farce. It’s all fake. They have a guy they want to win, and a guy they want to lose. Every time. You know why? Gambling”.
While Jason may have had some people questioning the UFC, they definitely don’t match fix and these were merely allegations from an emotional fighter released from the UFC after going 0-3.
Is UFC Fake? – To Conclude
After looking through all potential instances of UFC fakeness, the key takeaway is the UFC is far from fake when concerning the main thing, fighting. All fights and injuries are 100% real and thankfully there haven’t been any UFC deaths, but there have been plenty within MMA.
On the other hand, many things involved in UFC matchmaking and the tactics used to promote fights can be considered fake and scripted in the direction of money-making above all else.
However, the UFC is an MMA promotion at the end of the day, and they don’t overly push scripted scenarios to the point of negatively affecting the UFC’s integrity as most of these ‘money fights’ are supported by UFC sponsors, fighters, and fans, not just the UFC itself.