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The UFC's tiresome, monotonous approach to marketing fights has to stop

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UFC 172 is being treated as one of the most "stacked cards" in UFC history, which is another example of the repetitive marketing that is wearing thin on fans.


In case you didn't know, it's fight week. Actually, every week is fight week, with some fight weeks containing multiple fight days. This Saturday marks the sole UFC PPV of April, with light heavyweight champion and occasionally #1 pound-for-pound fighter Jon Jones defending his belt against Glover Teixeira, who is the greatest threat to Jones' throne since ... well ... every single opponent Jones has fought during his championship reign.

Dana White has his UFC 172 Vlog up on Youtube, and right off the bat he says that this is "probably the most stacked card we have ever done in UFC history", which is unquestionably preposterous but par for the course for how the UFC advertises itself and its events.

Of course, one could pass off Dana's comment as promoter speak in front of a small audience on Youtube. But he is likely to repeat this drivel as he shouts with Joe Rogan at 9:55 PM ET, minutes before the PPV main card starts, and while this is a good card, "most stacked ever" should be laughed off and not taken seriously at all. It's insulting to a knowledgeable fan's intelligence that this drivel is spewed on a regular basis.

White's opening Vlog statement is indicative of the UFC's absolutely stagnant, unimaginative, and borderline obnoxious form of advertisement and hyping of their events. There is a general feeling of sameness throughout each broadcast and pre-event commercials to the point where cognizance is the only thing preventing UFC 172 from not looking discernibly different from a Fox Sports 1 Wednesday show. Strip all context of a title fight and the UFC would market Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira at a similar level to Danny Castillo vs. Charlie Brenneman, and no other sports league works like that. The NFL does not treat a December Sunday Night game on NBC as if it holds identical value to the 4th best game of a CBS doubleheader in October. But put it in the hands of the UFC's production team and the Houston Texans (a league-worst 2-14 last year) are just as dangerous and formidable as the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

Part of the UFC's inability to "create" new stars and establish a solid presence on television is their long-standing mantra of "brand over athletes". It has come to a point where you're now just expected to watch a UFC show because it has those three identifiable letters on it, and recent Fox cards suggest that the viewing audience isn't playing along. "Free" cards, once a rarity for the UFC in the Spike TV era, are now a regular occurrence to the point where there are more cable TV events than PPVs. It's UFC non-stop and there are no signs of the promotion slowing its expansion. This may be a shock to the system, but the UFC is not the NFL, so the notion that the typical MMA fan is going to watch every UFC show is bunk. They've not reached (and honestly, will never attain) a level of popularity that mirrors "mainstream" sports to manage consistently strong viewership.

It is simply no longer enough to just say "the UFC is on, now watch it", you have to make the audience interested in your product and interested in your fighters, and they do neither. To the common folk, Fabricio Werdum is just "some guy", which he is certifiably not. They plug in the same generic terms -- "if you were in a lab and designed this superhuman beast to dethrone the champion..." -- for each contender, tweak the language but maintain the scope of the context, add loud music, chop up some commentary from Goldberg and Rogan yelling "OHHHHHHHHHHHH" and "WOW", and voila! You have your typical PPV promo. The champion is always sold as vulnerable, rarely dominant (which is perplexing given how Floyd Mayweather Jr. is sold in boxing), and each challenger is tougher than the last one. I'm not the only one who notices this issue, as Mike Fagan and Dave Walsh have had their recent takes from this past weekend. Eventually the viewers catch on, know they're being fed nonsense, and spend their money/time elsewhere. When everything and everyone is great and nothing stands out, you're essentially making your product stale.

I think it's time for the UFC to end this suffering significantly adjust their approach to selling fights. It doesn't make sense to advertise the exact same way for 50+ events as you did when you only had 20 per year. You can exaggerate without abandoning honesty, sell your dominant champions as dominant without sandbagging the opposition, and you can certainly upgrade from "YOU AND ME" to something that's akin to this excellent Metamoris trailer. But for now, expect more "best ever" proclamations and the status quo to remain the same from an organization that seems averse to changes in their production.