Those words were uttered by UFC President Dana White in response to Muhammed Lawal's comments regarding the promotion of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-finals this past weekend in Ohio. But they also are applicable regarding the promotion, or lack there of for tomorrow night's Ultimate Fight Night 25: Jake Shields vs Jake Ellenberger. Speaking candidly, the promotion for this event by Zuffa has been total garbage. Yes, the card isn't the strongest Fight Night that has been promoted but the main event is between two extremely talented welterweights, one of which just challenged for the UFC belt.
Dana White likes to claim that this is a 24/7 job for him and everyone knows he isn't lying. He catches up on sleep while flying and is the type of hands on boss that controls everything down to what the twitter and facebook accounts post. This weekend though, he's failed to do his job. In the lead up, he and Jon Jones were shooting commercials for Bud Light as part of a contest to fly fans out to New Orleans to see the event. You know, the one that ends with him and Jones in a bar and Dana saying "here we go!". Since those commercials, Dana has been promoting cards occurring at the end of October and December. He's been missing in the build up to this fight. And contrary to popular belief, that's not a good thing.
Dana White is the most marketable person in the UFC. Without ever fighting, he can guarantee that a card does moderately well on Pay Per View or television. These smaller events live and die by his promotion, which makes this weekend all the more curious. The UFC's promotion of this card is similar to Zuffa's with last week in Ohio. There is a feeling that the articles and stories are getting phoned in and that it's already being seen as a loss even without setting up the Octagon. To put things into perspective, UFC Director of Communication Dave Sholler is hosting a media brunch today in Las Vegas with Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Dave is a mainstay at live events. He's the guy that media counts on so his absence is extremely telling.
Obviously the UFC are viewing this weekend as a loss. Floyd Mayweather is making his return and with it, he's cannibalized the media. Kevin Iole of Yahoo, a usual UFC mainstay is skipping UFN 25 for the far more interesting boxing card. In fact, most media are skipping this event seeing very little pay off from covering the card live in New Orleans. Instead, they are waiting until next weeks UFC 135 to provide press coverage. Even around the net, there are few sites that are even building this card up. But really, why should they when the UFC has failed to promote it themselves?
David Castillo of HeadKickLegend.com comments how Floyd Mayweather hijacked the the MMA media. In his words:
Brent Brookhouse would respond, quoting Anthony Pace in describing the boxing vs. MMA meme as a 'war of fiction'. It still is, but you wouldn't know it judging by the coverage over Mayweather/Ortiz. Luke Thomas thinks that if Ortiz wins, the UFC needs to put on a super fight. Jonathan Snowden isn't shy about which card is better either.
Well, yea, it's a Fight Night. Floyd Mayweather sells, always has, and the boxing brass have finally given a main event proper support with a great undercard. Of course boxing is selling the better fights. Likewise, nobody's gonna compare ESPN Friday Night Fights to UFC 137. Thomas' comments are even more bizarre. Whatever reasons the UFC has to put on a superfight, they should be completely organic, and not in any way influenced by what boxing is doing, or has failed to do. That would be the supreme fool's errand.
Castillo makes a great point that the MMA media is spending this weekend discussing which card is superior and forcing a story to relate it to the obvious intrigue from Mayweather/Ortiz. The event has an obvious appeal to almost everyone as Victor Ortiz has the skill set and the age to pose a legitimate threat to Pretty Boy Floyd. And should he win, it would be the best possible outcome for the UFC. However, for Zuffa to give up this weekend and concede defeat is a terrible strategy.
If the UFC can't be bothered enough to care about the event, why should we? Why should people tune into Spike TV to watch the return of Alan Belcher or the fight between Jake Shields and Jake Ellenberger? The card isn't great but it surely isn't the worst offering from Zuffa. When the Director of Communication is hosting a brunch in Vegas and Dana White's twitter has been silent except to let people know the location of the weigh ins, it is extremely telling. Zuffa doesn't care about this weekends event. They don't have any expectations nor do they have any resources invested in this weekend. Instead, they're promoting next week with a massive schedule of Q&A's and webcasts. They've sent a message and it's been read loud and clear: watch UFN 25 if you want, we don't really care.