In order to get the full context of this post, I recommend going through Parts 1 through 4 (Links at the end of this one), though it isn’t mandatory. In any case, I’d appreciate the read, and who knows? Perhaps the discussion to follow…
So far, when we spoke about “Fixing MMA” we focused on UFC, being the biggest promotion and all that. Today, I’d like to dedicate a post to the second best… Bellator.
In the past week, leading up to UFC208, there was an article written about how fans begin to compare UFC cards to a Bellator one (see bottom of the post). How amusing… Yes, a single Bellator event MAY be considered a better offering than a single UFC card. But come on folks… consistently speaking, you have got to be kidding me.
Bellator MMA earned this title (second best) by being generally sub-par in every aspect, especially in roster.
I know there’s no room for comparison between the two organizations with regards to financial strength, and that this is a big factor in UFC’s relative success. That is why I will stay away from the roster issue.
I will focus instead, on three things:
Hey, Bellator! Eric Bischoff’s called. He wants “Monday Nitro” back.
The pro-werstling promotion WCW had a strong financial backing and was able to seduce BIG stars away from the – then – WWF. They ripped off the original product, interfered with its rating and experienced great success, to the extent of beating the dinosaur and eventually forcing it to just buy them out.
That won’t happen for Bellator. They are not even close. They don’t have Uncle Ted paying for their shows, and they don’t live in the 90s. All these ridiculous walk in videos, circa 1999 WWF are really weak. The atmosphere is amateurish at best. The broadcast looks cheap and it radiates. It creates the cheap feel…
My recommendation, therefore, and considering that money is an issue – keep it simpler. Tone down the fireworks and present a sports-like event. What can this be driving? We will discuss in item #2 on our to-do list.
UFC is bigger, stronger, more recognized. But UFC also makes mistakes and does things in certain ways. What could contribute to Bellator’s marketing and branding more than taking the very things UFC struggles with, and doing them right with what they have?
UFC cater (at least recently) mostly to “fan fantasy”? Let Bellator instill a ranking system and schedule fights in a real competition based booking. Separate yourself from the competitor and you can – at the very least – say “We do things right”. We are promoting a sport.
But this is more than a sport.
True that. So let’s say good-bye to fighters that should really retire, and give more airtime to the up and comers. The fighters who have something to prove. That money we saved on fireworks? Let’s use it to build these guys up. Perhaps hand out some bonuses…
I’m certain that there are fighters on the UFC roster, who may feel they have a better shot at making a name for themselves in a place that doesn’t constantly book “money fights”. An organization that recognizes their skill and hard work, even if their tongues aren’t as slick as others’.
The people in front of the camera and behind the microphone:
And finally, for the love of GSP… let’s replace pretty much everybody on-screen and behind the microphone. Really… it’s simply embarrassing at times to watch and listen to Bellator’s events.
From the ring announcing (Hey, It’s 2017, not 1937) through the play-by-play (Sorry, I thought there actually was one…) and all the way to the color commentating (Jerry Lawler is more tolerable).
Watching a Bellator fight starts with the old-fashioned introductions, with as much enthusiasm as the secretary at the dentist calling the next patient. It continues with the person who’s supposed to call the fight, talking about Bellator, the next event and anything else really, instead of focusing on the action taking place in the cage right now. And instead of the professional next to him giving us fans some real insights into what the fighters are doing (or supposed to be doing), we hear mostly drivel and hype… And I thought Joe Rogan is bad…
This is the face of your organization. Make it pretty, make it smart, and make it professional. If you’re looking for a real play-by-play guy, I know a guy. His name rhymes with Spike foldberg. You just signed a really smart MMA fighter called Rory, you signed Chael Sonnen, and Benson Henderson knows a thing or two about MMA. Let them step in and provide commentary. Or just hire a retired fighter who still feels the fire. Sticking with the motley crew you currently have will never raise the bar.
Will all of the above provide an equalizer? Absolutely not.
What can it do to help? It can raise the promotion’s value in the eyes of both fans, as well as – wait for it….. – Potential investors. Go find your uncle Ted. Then, with Uncle Ted’s money you can start planning the storming of the castle.
What do you think?
What is Bellator doing well?
Where can they improve?
Here are the links to:
Last week the muse struck me, as I was listening to some music. I wrote this post, drawing lines between writing a novel and making music. I hope you liked it.
But after submitting that post, it dawned on me that I’ve omitted a few critical puzzle pieces. I alluded to them in comment, but they are far too significant for me not to address with a bit more depth.
So, we put the band back together and we’re thinking about new materials, recording and with some luck, live concerts. We have everything we need for people to hear music. But there are just a couple of things we really should’ve thought about earlier…
Extremely rare, are successful and popular ensembles which are not identified with a strong lead singer.
We’d love our fans to have a face for our band, don’t we? In literature, that is our protagonist, our hero. Our Kurt, or John, or Freddie. You get the picture. Someone to root for.
When Nirvana recorded ‘Nevermind’, the producer – Buch Vig – wasn’t happy with Kurt’s vocals as he did them. After some thought, he “tricked” Kurt into adding Dave Grohl’s backing vocal by telling him (the truth, I might add) that’s what The Beatles did. And the result? Kurt’s raspy, screech-y voice, layered with dave’s high pitched, downplayed backup. That in itself made that album as legendary as it is.
The same goes for our novel. One character does not a novel make. One needs some backup. And it could be a friendly figure, like little Steven to Bruce Springsteen – you know, to make it fuller. But it could be an antagonistic relationship – in fact, we must have that element. Axel without Slash and Duff? Give me a break.
But one thing’s important. Our band must have a clear voice. There is one, and only one lead vocalist.
Yes, The Beatles featured at least 2, but here is my reply:
The Beatles are legendary.
John sang this song with Paul backing and then Paul sang another while John backed him up.
John is the undisputed lead singer, and whoever says differently should be shunned! Or maybe not. You get the point.
Ah! But what about boy/girl bands?
Well, first of all they suck.
Besides, when everyone sings together, it could be harmonious, but it is normally either confusing or sounds downright bad. And even within these bands, every singer has his lines, his spots. Even in great choruses, there’s a lead.
I think we got that down.
And, perhaps the most important thing left to do… Write some damn songs! Put words in the mouths of the singers, teach the band members how to play, decide which style of music we want to do next.
Yes, that is you, the writer.
You decide what kind of music gets played. Is it upbeat? Slow romantic, perhaps classic? Is it loud? What kind of lead singer do you want? You’ve got to know this guy very well, you don’t want him to stop showing up for concerts or surprise you with uncharacteristic behavior – well not to the extent he breaks up the band at least.
Who are his backing vocalists? What do their relationships look like? How do they help him grow?
What are the songs about? Are they very personal? Are they politically infused? Is there something the band stands for?
There you go. Now we have the complete package, and once we’ve hired some vocalists and wrote the lyrics and the tunes, we can finally see the stage lights waiting for us to come up.
I hope you all get standing ovation.
When I sit down to write, I normally play some of my favorite “writing music”. Examples? Any Pink Floyd (Atom Heart Mother being in the lead), some unplugged rock albums (Nirvana, Alice in chains), Neil Young’s Harvest and Harvest Moon and so on and so forth.
While sitting down to write the other day, I started thinking about writing – as in writing fiction – and music.
But let me take you on a brief bunny trail first, before I start making my point (this is not fiction after all).
When I first attempted playing guitar, I learned a few chords and sat with a couple of guys who already played. I listened and I remember the realization that the guitar does not actually mirror the tune the singer was singing, but rather accentuating it. Lennon and McCartney aren’t singing C, F, G or whatever the heck it is. These chords draw the broad strokes of the song. So maybe it isn’t as complicated as I thought? How about solos then? Some songs are identified with the guitar solos. But these don’t define them either. They are decorations. Some really fancy ones, but decorations all the same…
Back to our little discussion about writing fiction and music.
If I think about a novel as a song. An Epic if you’d like. A stairway to heaven. Sure, you can learn the main riff, and pull off a nice home-made rendering of this song. But you still did not create that masterpiece that withstands the tests of time.
When I plan a novel, I (so far subconsciously?) think about the end result and I want it to sound like a complete package. That means, putting the band back together.
Let’s see here.
Before we can even entertain writing a novel (especially a novel), we must hire the drummer. Without the cool guy in the back, you might as well write a comic strip. Why? Because your novel must have beats.
You absolutely must have a bass player. The drummer may be cool, but please… show me a rhythm section that produced anything really good without the bass player. Bonham/JP Jones, Chad Smith/Flea, Ulrich/Butron/Newstead/Trujillo? Need I say more? These guys help make the beats more… pungent?
Then come the Rhythm guitar. Because your story doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Or maybe it does… then leave this guy and get started. The point is, your story happens in a place and a time. It – if you will – sings to the tune of its background. It adheres to its rules. It makes sense.
With the above, you most certainly can start a novel. It may be a minimalistic one. But these may be the bare bones of the band we need for this task.
But if you want to write a bigger one. If you’re on a mission from God!
Then you must add the solo guitar guy. This guy will make your language dance, your imagery fly and your scenes come to life.
The Saxophonist is needed for love. You can have the cheesy tunes, or the classic. Down and dirty or implied. The Sax can paint it anyway you want.
How about a brass section? Want your climax and other turning points to reach that dramatic peak? You have the option to let ‘em rip.
That’s all I guess… You could take this imagery to the classical world and build an orchestra (and some already have). In art, there’s no limit. Only what works for you.
So pick up the phone (or your laptop), and put the band back together. I know I will.
The name of this post should tell you that there are three more parts. Links to all can be found at the end of this post.
Welcome back folks.
Very soon I will update with things such as “where the heck have you been?”. For now, I’ll just say – here, there and everywhere. Life has thrown a couple of curve balls at me, so I decided to make Lemonade. Or something to that effect.
I wanted to say a few words today, about the writing experience as I’ve witnessed it with other writers, as well as myself.
As a participant in writers groups, workshops and other such forums, one thing was always clear to me. No matter what kind of feedback one receives for one’s writing, it’s up to the writer to decide what to do with it. It sounds simple. Trivial even. But it is not as simple as it sounds to many writers, especially in the early stages of writing.
There are many kinds of feedback one can expect to get. In my world, the only rule is – discuss the writing, not the writer. Of course, honesty is appreciated, though cannot be expected. Which is part of the problem I’d like to talk about here.
Many writers are quite sensitive about their writing (speaking from personal experience here…) and it takes time for some to develop thicker skin, or as it really should be called – willingness to receive criticism.
Otherwise, we may fall into the trap I call the feedback loop.
What is this loop? It’s the cycle of feedback and response, that traps certain writers in an unproductive situation.
There are two types of feedback and responses that create this loop (as far as I can tell at this point in time):
The biased feedback: The kind you get from your family and close friends who are either afraid to hurt your feelings, or simply not equipped to provide the kind of feedback you need.
The ruthless criticism: The kind that is (sometimes) given with sheer honesty and no constructive value, or simply mean-hearted feedback (which many times comes from other people not really equipped to provide the kind of feedback you need).
These are the types of feedback that may start this loop, but the response is more important to the creation of this predicament.
Let’s discuss the second type first. What happens when we receive negative feedback? Well, for most of us, this is an unpleasant situation, and we deal with it in different ways. When we receive feedback that may be important, even if it comes in a negative way, mean even, what do we do? What I’ve noticed with quite a few writers is that they tend to respond to this in one of two ways – A “reboot” or complete “shutdown“.
Reboot, as in “Oh, you don’t like it? Here, let me throw all this garbage in the bin and start all over from scratch.”
Shutdown, as in “I’m no damn good. What was I thinking? I better find another hobby. Perhaps Macrame.”
What good came out of either one? The writer either gives up, and we may lose a few very good books sometime down the line, or, the writer may start something new, without learning what was wrong with the previous piece of work – which could have turned into something really good.
The second type of feedback loop starts with the biased criticism which, to certain writers, mean – good job! keep doing exactly what you’re doing.
This, of course does not teach us anything. Nobody’s prefect. A first draft isn’t call “first” without the expectation of having – at the very least – a second. It’s not called final, is it?
The result is at the best of scenarios – a completed draft that is far from where it could have been. In most cases, it leads to the never-ending writing of a never finished product.
So what do we do?
Before getting feedback on something I wrote, I ask myself – what’s the worst that can happen?
The worst that can happen is either hearing “Great job! I wouldn’t change anything! It’s perfect! You’re such a good writer!” or getting verbally abused for an hour about what a horrific piece of junk I just scribbled.
Either way – it is up to me to decide what to do next. So many questions are available to us in order to qualify the feedback we receive. Who provided this feedback? What is my opinion about his qualification to criticize? Have I received good feedback in the past from this person? Was it constructive? There are many more, and of course we need to ask and answer these honestly, otherwise we’re cheating no one but ourselves off a chance to make our work better.
Whatever we choose to do next, whether it’s to make changes to our work based on the feedback, or to ignore it all together, we must make the choice to be productive. Writing as a hobby is just nice and dandy, but if your goal is to publish something, this thing needs to be written.
Did you ever get one of these types of feedback?
How did you handle it?
Any other advice on how to avoid this trap?
Until next time,