clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Genius of Dana White and The Interim Title Defenses

Fucky McFuck Fuck, a.k.a. Dana White, takes an image beating by MMA fans, pundits, insiders, outsiders, and everyone in between. Much of it is deserved, but we critics must also give the man his due when he comes through. White has done just that by creating two (or three depending on how you want to look at it) interim titles. It is not a mistake; it's pure genius.

For starters, we have drama now. After suffering through a bland season of The Ultimate Fighter as well as other television/marketing programming, now we have real-life consequential drama. It's manufactured theater, but not theater without consequence.

Second, this helps White's "we now have the best fighters in the world fighting each other" marketing pitch. By having each weight class's top three fighters battle it out for supremacy, White is able to present a product of world-class, international athletes vying for a highly coveted and singular prize.

Third, White is serving notice to his fighters: the UFC is going to keep moving without you. It is your job to keep up. At some level, this has always been a criticism of the UFC: they make fighters cater to them while the other promotions "put fighters first". Whatever the merits of either paradigm, you have to give the UFC it's due. Sure, they put UFC interests first, but they put MMA second and with their power, they do a lot of good for this sport. White forcing his champions to remain active in title defenses isn't a failure to acknowledge the rigors of training. It's White's way of saying there are certain expectations of performance for UFC champions. Those are great expectations, but that's the lay of the land. It's the "Do you want to be a fucking fighter?" ethos played out in real life.

White's move isn't without risk. Having this unclear a title picture among so many different weight classes could be damaging a number of ways. Aside from the muddled picture, White could also be burning out athletes. And the claim that White's decision to allow a television show to affect the method and timing of title defenses is the origin of White's problems is also true. I'm willing to concede all of those points have some merit. But for my money, this is an excellent short-run strategy. It the anti-UFC 78 mentality because it requires star studded match-ups. So while the jury is still out on the long term gains, the verdict is in for the immediate future.