I tried. I made the mistake of reading Josh’s piece. I have Google Reader, which routinely directs my eyes away from mein Fightlinker, and I think I die a little inside every time I do that, but hoo boy, not today. I can’t bite my tongue any more. The hand wringing, Chicken Little, chickenshit nitpicking of Zuffa’s product since UFC 100 has reached a crescendo – and the true feelings behind it have finally been laid bare by one of the most fervent (if previously closeted) proponents of co-promotion, AKA the scourge of boxing, AKA the reason DREAM and Strikeforce are kicking the UFC’s ass in every which way right now. I declare from the beginning that I’m for one organization running the world’s top talent – what’s infuriating are that those that argue in favor of co-promotion hardly ever come right out and say it, so as not to be instantly ridiculed for wanting the same matchmaking prowess that put together The Most Obvious Fight in the History of Mankind to replace Joe Silva and company.
These are serious problems and I’m not feeling optimistic. Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments.
Well, Nate, I would if I could, but I can’t.
The Gross piece, which I refuse to link to on the grounds that it gave me a headache, is in the tone of a man that lit his hair on fire, ran around screaming, doused himself in a bathtub, took some muscle relaxers, and still felt like the world was going to end. He is actually concerned about ‘oversaturation on American television’ – because there is way too much MMA on TV, amirite? Meltzer’s estimate of 275,000 buys for UFC 108 (an unconfirmed number that Dana characterizes as roughly half of what the card actually did, but never mind that, let’s get some page views) has, somehow, given rise to those that miss the old days of yearning for PRIDE fighters to fight UFC fighters and vice versa. You know your side is fucked when a CURSED pay per view does triple what Affliction ever did in buys and you take that as a sign of weakness. The criticisms of Zuffa, mainly, have been ‘your champions get hurt too often!’ and ‘you never cancel cards!’ and ‘I heart Fedor you bastard!’ – easy, largely true and, most importantly, wholly untied to the motivations that manifest themselves within them. Today, apparently, Bloody Elbow felt confident enough to put this up on the front page:
Gross comes out strongly in favor of co-promotion. I’ve long felt that was the future of the sport, but for a minute there in August 2009, it looked like Dana White would prove me wrong by signing Fedor Emelianenko.
Dana missed his moment and for now the UFC has peaked as of UFC 100. Meanwhile the coalition of Strikeforce, CBS/Showtime and DREAM has made the moves they needed to to stay alive.
For those of you mercifully unaware (and in the interest of full disclosure), I used to comment on BE (known forever after as ‘BV’) and was banned by the author of this very post for responding to a small dick joke with a your wife joke. Fair, benevolent and always open to criticism – that’s my Old Man Nate. I’m not even going to get into why co-promotion is, has not been, nor shall ever be the ‘future of the sport’, any more than co-promotion between the NFL and the UFL is the future of professional football. There is the Major Leagues, and there is everywhere else, and Fedor is the last exception to that rule, and HIS failure to sign with Zuffa – NOT Zuffa’s failure to sign him to the wealthiest contract ever offered to a mixed martial artist – reflects poorly upon HIM.
As to the ‘peaked’ ‘argument’ – I will concede that, six months ago, UFC 100 smashed every PPV record known to the sport. You know, before UFC 100, it was always ‘oh, they peaked with Chuck/Tito, they’ll never get there again’, and now it’s ‘oh, they peaked with Lesnar/Mir, they’ll never get there again.’ Great fighters, and great fights, arise from having a bunch of fights, under the Unified Rules, over and over again. The UFC’s roster depth, pocket book, endorsements, worldwide presence… they’re insurmountable. They’ve Won. Their Formula Worked. Dana Was Right. I know, it’s like razors in your mouth, but say it anyway. Strikeforce, as a last refutation of this ridiculous argument, wasn’t even in Zuffa’s line of fire until they decided to reward Fedor for ducking the deepest heavyweight division on Earth (we now know he wouldn’t have fought Brock right away – but Mir? Dos Santos? Carwin? Anyone else you can think of that might have been a better opponent than Brett Rogers?) – give it time, Nate, and they won’t impress you with their ability to maintain a pulse any longer.
So Nate gets shredded in the comments, largely along these lines (I guess you can’t ban ’em all). Eighteen minutes later, we have a hideously misleading headline followed up by the conviction that Dana White, personally, lost both Fedor AND Dan Henderson, because of his potty mouth and insistence on using the same fork for both salad and dinner. Where does Nate pull this information from? Directly from his ass (or Fedor’s managers, but frankly, I think my ass is a more reliable source of information. At least when it gives you shit, you know it’s shit).
If they would once in a while take the long term view and do the right thing instead of the right now thing, they would have more goodwill from fighters. Dan Henderson walked — after being offered UFC 109 at the last minute — and Fedor didn’t sign with UFC because they felt disrespected by Dana. In the end, Dana’s mouth and attitude hurt him more than it hurt Fedor and Henderson/
I will now quote a favorite of mine on that board, whom diplomatically layeths the smacketh down:
Saying that Fedor didn’t sign because of Dana’s attitude is not a statement of fact. Maybe it had something to do with it, but calling it definitive reasoning is totally off the mark.
Hendo didn’t just walk, either. Zuffa didn’t agree with his value and while they didn’t handle the matter in the most tactful fashion, that was the clear reason for his departure. They don’t have to take one for the team when they estimate someone is only worth so many dollars to them. They disagreed on the value and he moved on. Since we’re making parallels to other American sports, see TJ Houshmanzadeh— the Vikings offered him less money because they placed a definitive value on his services and their team was a more attractive option than Seattle. He chose the money. No hard feelings, business as usual.
You want co-promotion? You think boxing’s model is superior to Zuffa’s? You think fighters ducking fights because they’re afraid of losing beats fighters not fighting teammates? Come right out and say that. We’ll have that debate. And you’ll get smoked. Every single time. The next year will feature some of the best fights, most stacked cards and THE biggest payouts the sport has ever seen, and it’s all thanks to an aerobics instructor from Bawston. I used to freak out and panic – now, I’m more calm. MMA’s going to be ok, gang – and we’re NOT going to co-promote. How can you say ‘They’re the best thing to happen to MMA in the history of the sport. When I bitch it’s because I want them to live up to their promise and achieve their goals,’ when YOU DON’T WANT THEM TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS? It is the categorical REJECTION of co-promotion that is the secret to Zuffa’s success – and they are not going to stop doing what made them a billion dollar enterprise because of any one fighter, writer or man. Christ.
Here’s a hint: if you have to go back and update your piece ‘I am not a Zuffa hater’, you’re a Zuffa hater.