ESPN ran the results of UFC 120 on their ticker yesterday hours before the Spike TV broadcast of UFC 120.
Dana White tweeted off the handle:
You guys needs to e mail and tweet ESPN for f***in up the results not me.
His followers took the bait and it was not pretty.
Josh Gross responds:
Search "espn ufc" on Twitter to get a sense for the reaction White prompted. Yes, this is the UFC president, with more than 1.2 million followers, telling people to COMPLAIN to ESPN for publishing MMA news. It's mind numbing. Maybe next time they'll just choose not to cover it at all. How quickly we forget where the sport was five years ago. To be offended by ESPN or SI or any mainstream sports news outlet considering MMA relevant enough to publish results in real time is asinine.
A better suggestion, as pointed out by a lucid observer via Twitter: How about directing complaints to UFC's TV partner, Spike TV?
Zach Arnold comments:
As far as ESPN giving out the spoiler results, let's put it this way - the event aired live in Canada on Rogers Sportsnet and aired live in the UK. ESPN gives out spoilers all the time for events that are live (see: boxing).
From a promoter's point of view, I get the frustration. But the rest of the world isn't Japan and as long as the yakuza isn't running the UFC, you won't see the media shy away from posting spoilers. (In Japan, the media for pro-wrestling and MMA events waits until 3 AM the next morning to publish reports.)
Geno Mrosko adds:
Dana White told fans on his Twitter to complain to ESPN for rolling spoilers across the bottom of the screen on their ticker on ABC during college football games and on their channel. He actually told his 1.2 million followers to complain to ESPN. Whether it's a good thing or not, White has a great deal of influence on people. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if quite a few of his followers actually took his advice and sent in some form of complaint. I'm not sure what could have been going through his head when he tweeted this. Does he not want them to cover the UFC? How dare they report news, either. That's just unacceptable. While I think the spoiler thing is nice if fans get consideration, it shouldn't be a be all end all kind of thing. Fans know when events are. If they want to see them when they air live, there are plenty of ways of doing so. Maybe White needs to get with Spike about airing the fights live, when they actually happen. That would solve this whole mess.
We had a vigorous internal debate here at Bloody Elbow about how to handle our coverage of UFC 120. We elected to go with live coverage but with the results hidden after the jump and then did a second discussion thread for the Spike TV broadcast.
I think it was a passable compromise, but I don't think we'll do it again. The UFC and Spike TV are fighting an uphill battle against reality here. The event was broadcast live in Europe and Canada. We live in an era of international and instant media coverage.
On the one hand, Dana White wants MMA to be treated as a major sport that is covered as a major sport by the media. On the other hand, when the media does what they do -- report the news as it happens -- Dana flies off the handle and sics his twitter followers on ESPN.
Dana White wants the exposure and money of being a big time sport, but he wants to control the flow of information like it's a small cottage industry. It will be amusing to see if Dana attempts to ban ESPN from UFC events the way he once banned Sherdog.