Does Social Media Get Fighters More Attention Than Winning?

Recently, the trend of UFC fighters talking their way into the limelight has exploded with the popularity of Irish superstar Conor McGregor. The silver-tongued McGregor has called out every top fighter in the talented featherweight division on blast, and it’s worked wonders for “Notorious,” who could be on the cusp of a title shot if he can defeat Dennis Siver in the main event of January 18’s UFC Fight Night 59.

Many fighters have taken a page out of McGregor’s playbook, appearing on social media with shocking comments and call-outs in an effort to gain a following that alone, their fighting skills just can’t earn. While it’s true that McGregor’s comical tweets have set the Internet ablaze; less successful fighters have begun using it as their main avenue to get their name out there.

One glaring example of this is The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 competitor Angela Magana, who spent much of the season being portrayed as a cold, conniving drama queen on the show. Online, she’s playing that role perfectly, assigning herself the nickname of “Your Highness” and calling her haters “peasants.”

Magana recently spoke up to MMA Fighting to state that she isn’t always like this, only on Twitter. Magana insists that she only thinks she’s better than those who judged her based on the show:

“It comes from me being so much better than those f—ing losers on there. I’m not like that in my every day life. I don’t think I have peasants and stuff. But on Twitter? Hell yeah.

All these people started abusing me on Twitter, people who didn’t know anything about me, people who watched me on an edited TV show and became so emotionally invested that they had to message me and call me all kinds of nasty, hateful things. It comes from me being so much better than those f—ing losers on there.”

Strong words from a fighter who hasn’t really proven much, if anything, inside the UFC octagon. Magana lost a decision to Aisling Daly on the show, and she’ll have another chance to beat a name opponent when she faces Tecia Torres at tonight’s (Fri., December 12, 2014) TUF 20 Finale from Las Vegas, Nevada.

But Magana isn’t about to let her fame depend solely on her in-cage performances. She recently tweeted some seductive pictures depicting her bare backside, an act that reportedly gained her 10,000 new Twitter followers.

Magana isn’t about to feel bad for her actions, citing several prominent women’s MMA fighters who did the exact same thing. According to Magana, she’s only taking Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino’s advice, and it worked:

“They all did it. I don’t know why it’s so crazy that I did it. Look at Felice [Herrig]. Look at Ronda [Rousey]. Look at Miesha [Tate]. Cris Cyborg said all you have to do is take sexy pictures in women’s MMA. I took her advice. It worked.”

Magana also isn’t afraid to call out prominent MMA stars like Michael Bisping and even UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, and that’s where she gets into dangerous territory that arguably crosses some lines:

“I believe just being myself, not censoring myself and just being who I am definitely helps me. Ronda’s been talking her entire career. I’d rather not be the Jon Jones type who’s going to be fake and say it’s all about Jesus.”

While dominant women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has been known to say what she feels in a forceful manner, she’s also destroyed all of her opponents with brutal finishes, while Magana couldn’t even win a decision on TUF.

McGregor’s blueprint for media hype and attention definitely works, but the difference between he and Magana is that he backs it up in the cage, going 4-0 with three knockout finishes since debuting in 2013.

Magana can’t come even close to that, let alone the accomplishments of veterans like Bisping and even more so, Jones. But she most likely knows that, and she has been and will continue to be called out by all of her critics that saw what she was like on the show.

She also isn’t afraid to be herself; that is, if she is a critical, mean, and over-the-top controversial trash talked who says anything and everything to get attention online.

In today’s fast-paced Internet world, that’s what drives the hits, so one can hardly blast Magana for trying to get her name out there any way she can. After all, she’s seen it work before, and unlike McGregor, her window of relevancy in the UFC could be very short unless she wins tonight.

Yet right or wrong, there’s a certain amount of method to Magana’s madness. Take, for example, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. He’s dominated all of the elite competition at the top of the 125-pound division to the point of being in the conversation of pound-for-pound best, and yet he’s by far the UFC’s least popular champion.

His insistence on fighting “whoever the UFC says” and never hyping his fights or calling anyone out is most likely costing him millions of dollars, but that style just isn’t his personality. It’s too bad, because someone like Magana who has nowhere near the body of work that “Mighty Mouse” does is getting way more media buzz.

As for Jones, many fans have become disenfranchised with the world’s No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter because he has been deemed ingenuine at times.

Lately he’s taken to kind of embracing the role of heel heading into his blockbuster UFC 182 title fight versus Daniel Cormier, and that appears to be a much better gameplan for him.

There must always be an enemy in the fight game, because it’s that drama that drives fans’ attention whether they want to see a fighter win or lose. They’ll probably tune in more to see their most hated fighter lose.

So while Magana may not be even close to an elite fighter in the UFC (at least not yet), she certainly knows how to “play the game” in 2014. It’s a game that is focused on far more than winning fights, and even if she comes up short, more fighters could learn from the outspoken “queen” of online trash talk.

A huge fan of MMA since the 'Dark Ages' of the UFC, I pride myself on keeping up-to-date on all news and developments surrounding the sport. I've watched it grow from shunned spectacle to the lofty position it enjoys now, and it's been a great ride!