In an unprecedented move, UFC Vegas 61 became a closed door event, without fans or even media members allowed to attend.
When headliner Mackenzie Dern previously announced it was due to Facebook/Meta head Mark Zuckerberg having “rented out the whole event,” Dana White immediately issued a strong denial.
Mark Zuckerberg did NOT rent out the UFC Apex. That’s total bullshit. https://t.co/VbdFATcltd— danawhite (@danawhite) September 29, 2022
Surprise, surprise. As the event started on Saturday night, the controversial social media mogul was seen front and center, with barely anyone else in the venue. Technically, White may not have lied due to the circumstances around the word “rent,” but everything else was accurate. It became a closed door event catered to Zuckerberg, who happens to be a new BJJ and MMA fan.
Apart from Zuckerberg’s inner circle, it was pretty much just the UFC and ESPN production team and commission members. No fans or even media members were in attendance.
This didn’t happen during the height of the pandemic and all the lockdowns. This didn’t happen when A-list celebrities or even the US President attended UFC events as special guests either.
Had the @Facebook team at the Apex tonight for at @UFC. What a great group of people. They really enjoyed the fights and I could tell a lot of them train based on the questions they were asking. Thank you so much for coming..— Reed Harris (@reedharrisufc) October 2, 2022
After basically fighting in a cage for the billionaire’s weekend entertainment, one of the winners decided to ask Zuckerberg for some money.
“I know Mark from Facebook is here. You can throw in a bonus too, you know? Help us out,” Ilir Latifi said after beating Aleksei Oleinik.
As expected, there were also mixed reactions from fighters and media members online, with some not happy about it being a private event set up for one of the richest people on earth.
“Stay home bro wtf,” Al Iaquinta quipped as he noted how the crowd is the best part of UFC events.
Another former UFC title contender Nate Quarry commented on how Zuckerberg “can’t be bothered to be among the unwashed masses.”
Apart from the change of atmosphere without a crowd, media members not being allowed meant the post-fight press conference and media scrums were also scrapped, lessening the exposure and spotlight these fighters would’ve otherwise received during the event.
Yes, who of us hasn’t bought out an entire arena to watch athletes bludgeon themselves while we can’t be bothered to be among the unwashed masses?— Nathan Quarry (@NateRockQuarry) October 2, 2022
I’d say for most of us the lap of luxury involves buying brown mustard. https://t.co/nfxK0WhjaJ
The best part about the ufc events live is the crowd going nutso like stay home bro wtf— Al Iaquinta (@ALIAQUINTA) October 2, 2022
That the UFC thinks this is a great marketing opportunity shows how out of touch they are.— Nathan Quarry (@NateRockQuarry) October 2, 2022
I’m old enough to remember when the fighters were the main draw.
Not the promoter.
And certainly not a guest at the fights. https://t.co/nfxK0WhjaJ
Bring them before me. Let them spill blood for my enjoyment.— Nathan Quarry (@NateRockQuarry) October 2, 2022
-The Ruling Class, over and over through the centuries.
Maybe I’m alone here but this just seems humiliating.
Your whereabouts 24/7.
In front of millions or no one. pic.twitter.com/xORK0foyAk
They’re lettin Mark Zuckerberg pick the winner tonight— Terrance ‘T Wrecks’ McKinney (@twrecks155) October 2, 2022
“We are living in a simulation” continues to be…happening. https://t.co/F1jYs286pR— Cody Gibson (@TheRenegade559) October 2, 2022
Dana looks like a giant next to Zuck, at least double the head size https://t.co/eQLk6Ba9h7— Funky (@Benaskren) October 2, 2022
When I really enjoy something, my first thought is to exclude my fellow fans from enjoying it with me. https://t.co/AS8FtI6g1e— Josh Nason (@JoshNason) October 2, 2022
Folks getting lost into the question of 'rent' as if that's the central one. The issue is whether everyone else's absence is a function of his presence, not whether that's predicated on a financial transaction. https://t.co/zTEf1SzZua— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) October 1, 2022