Chael Sonnen competes this weekend at Metamoris VI, the jiu-jitsu spectacular-turned-top-secret-kumite, against Renato ‘Babalu' Sobral. The grappling contest has raised some eyebrows recently after Metamoris decided to hold the entire card behind closed doors, with no fans or media present.
We (Iain Kidd and myself) asked Chael, who is widely regarded as having perhaps the best grasp of marketing psychology of any mixed martial artist, what he thought of this unique strategy and his insight into their reasoning did not disappoint.
I am so fascinated by this. Here's the thing; this is an experiment. This is an extremely artistic approach.
Let me set this up for the readers. Metamoris is holding a huge pay-per-view event this weekend, which is available at metamoris.com. This is event six, and during the past five events you were encouraged to buy tickets and come watch. That was part of their business model. They have done away with that for this event, no tickets for sale. It's a closed room; two guys enter, a camera turns on and the only way to view it is online via pay-per-view.
It's pretty cool, but it defies the logic of general promotion, in which the gate is a very important element, as is your PR arm such as working with the media. The media have also been shut out from this event. That is a very interesting business model, and we're only going to know if it works when Metamoris 7 and 8 roll along and they continue this strategy.
Do you remember when Nick Diaz fought Georges St. Pierre and refused to do any media? Now Dana White was going to take the fight from him. When Dana threatened to pull the fight from Nick at the press conference, that got on Sportscenter, and on the front page of all the media sites and UFC Tonight.
The unintended consequence was that they ended up selling about 300,000 more pay-per-views than projected because they got more media attention from Nick Diaz refusing to do the media than they could have possibly got from him actually showing up, short of him actually lighting up a blunt at the press conference.
With that in mind, Metamoris' strategy is a bit unheard of, but it's not totally uncharted waters. Brock Lesnar is another guy who has never talked to anybody, nobody knows who he is or what he's doing behind the scenes, and the speculation has grown to increase his legend.
I'll tell you another thing; I haven't been anywhere in the last week where people haven't asked me about Metamoris and this approach that they're taking. Not for nothing, they're getting more attention from resisting attention than if they just ran commercials and ads like everyone else, but we're only going to know in hindsight if it works.
This is just a fraction of a large scale interview we did with Sonnen for our brand new show, the Three Amigos Podcast. Iain and myself will be dropping several articles over the next couple days along with the full audio, next week when we formally launch, so stay tuned for it.