There’s a lot of talk from people about how BJ Penn took Sean Sherk aside after his fight on Saturday to tell him all that steroid talk was hype and he didn’t mean it:
The main event featured another breaking kayfabe moment. Immediately after the fight Penn told Sherk (in a “private” conversation overheard by the production) that he told him he was going to make this the biggest fight in history, that he respected him, and to come train with him anytime. This was coming on the heels of a promotional campaign that explicitly focused on how each man hated the other (SEE: UFC 83 Review: Breaking Kayfabe).
The worry of course is that all the rivalries that have pumped us up … Ortiz vs Shamrock, GSP vs Serra, Penn vs Sherk, have featured manufactured and insincere heat. If that’s the case for too long, people will start looking at MMA like pro wrestling, where every fight is set up with some sort of bullshit whatever to make us give a shit.
Here’s the deal: more often than not I’d bet that the words spoken after the fight are more false than the feuds leading up to them. We discussed this on the Low Blow, where once a dude proves his alpha male status in the cage there’s no more need for verbal sparring. Their positions have been set in stone, and the winner will often be gracious and downplay all the shit talking done leading up to the fight because it doesn’t really matter any more.
But when you think about it, do you really think Sean Sherk will take BJ Penn’s offer up to train in Hawaii? Do you think GSP really didn’t care about being kicked out of Renzo Gracie’s training by Serra? And while Tito and Ken both said it was just business, it’s not like you’re ever going to catch them hanging out together. So yeah, while I agree that casual viewers may be confused watching fighters kiss and make up after a fight, the majority of us know that there’s often very real reasons for the feuds that build up in MMA.