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« | Home | »

Wednesday notes: Tito Ortiz talks (again)

By Zach Arnold | June 6, 2007

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Post updated with Dana White’s comments made today on The Jim Rome Show on radio.

WEC drew a 0.39 rating on its live debut on The Versus network.

Hey, look, another energy drink sponsoring an MMA company. Actually, the fact that Steele Cage Promotions thinks they should create a sanctioning body within a promotion (the “IFO”) may be more offensive than another energy drink sponsorship.

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia has a critical article on the UFC. All the stereotypes rolled up into one piece.

It’s interesting to note that no one really in the English MMA media is picking up on K-1’s attempts to excuse Kazushi Sakuraba’s loss to Royce Gracie via the ‘vaseline’ explanation.

We received the following message from UFC’s UK office:

I am sure you’d be very interested to know that boxing promoter Frank Warren has withdrawn his fictitious claim that the UFC would have liked to have hired boxing broadcaster Steve Bunce but couldn’t afford Mr Bunce’s services.

To be clear on the matter, the UFC has never, ever, offered a job or role to Steve Bunce or any other British journalist/broadcast and any positive articles that Mr Bunce has written about the UFC are purely due to him attending our events with a genuinely open mind about MMA and liking what he’s seen.

After I brought the matter to his attention last night, Mr Bunce telephoned Mr Warren and as a result of their conversation, Mr Warren has withdrawn his bogus assertions and taken the offending passages down.

You will notice on Mr Warren’s site, all references to the UFC’s Press Office, Steve Bunce and any relationship between UFC and Mr Bunce have been deleted.

Looking at the post specifically mentioned, it has indeed been edited.

Dana White was on The Jim Rome Show today (interview started at 11:35 AM PST). Some notes from the radio interview:

  1. He talked about how he got interested in the UFC (mentioning fighter John Lewis by name).
  2. He talked about how ‘the old owner’ (Bob Meyrowitz) burned so many bridges and did things the wrong way. White claimed UFC was supposed to be a one-time show, but did so well that they ran shows over and over again and the old owners didn’t realize that they were creating a new sport. It was bad to market it as “two men enter the cage, one man leaves.”
  3. When asked about the position of UFC as a sport in America, White said that UFC will never be as big as the NFL but “we’re NASCAR-big now, we’re MLB-big now, we’re NBA-big now.” He said that unlike the NFL, which isn’t popular outside of North America, the UFC product can cross cultural barriers and be global. White made an analogy to someone going to England to watch cricket and not ‘getting it’, but everyone gets UFC.
  4. Dana talked about how UFC PPVs outsell WWE and boxing. He says that the UFC PPV audience comes from both industries. When asked what is more dangerous (MMA or boxing), Dana hesitated at first but stated that 5-6 boxers die a year and that more people die in football (on the high-school level) but nobody complains about that because it’s football.
  5. White claimed that 85% of the fighters in UFC are college-educated and that they include guys who were Olympic wrestlers and went into martial arts (which he stressed required money). He said the fighters are good human beings and once again brought up the Haystacks Calhoun comparison to Matt Hughes (one’s fictional, one’s real). “Reality is better than anything you can write.”
  6. He said that the blueprint of UFC was based on the business of boxing and what not to do. White said that Don King and Bob Arum destroyed boxing and that nobody in boxing has done anything to secure the future of the sport. He stressed that UFC is ran like a real business.
  7. When asked by Jim Rome how he was able to build UFC into an empire with no college degree and no formal business training, White responded by saying “I know fighting” and “I know what fight fans want to see.” When pressed to give an example of where boxing has gone wrong, he brought up the De La Hoya/Mayweather event on May 5th. White said that seats were $2,500 USD a piece and the PPV cost $55 or $60. He said that Oscar De La Hoya has many fighters under contract (like Shane Mosley), but chose not to put the best fights on a single card and stack the line-up. White juxtaposed UFC events in comparison to boxing by stating that he builds entire cards that fans want to see and that when prelims start at 5:15 PM, 75% of the fans are already at the build ready to watch.
  8. Dana shyfully thought that Rampage/Liddell lived up to the hype and made the claim that Chuck Liddell is the best or one of the best MMA fighters in the world. White said that he is still in shock that Chuck got knocked out, and he also deflected criticism of Chuck staying out late at night before fights by stating that Liddell has always done that and “gotten up at 3 or 4 PM in the afternoon the next day.” White also stressed that his intention is to book Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva, claiming that “it will probably be the biggest fight in MMA history.”

Onto today’s headlines.

  1. Bloody Elbow: Another problem with IFL Battleground
  2. The Lansing State Journal: Legislation aims to tap MMA fighting market in Michigan
  3. Yahoo Sports: HBO/Larry Merchant making progress
  4. UFC HP: Urijah Faber in full effect as WEC assaults the Nation
  5. The Philadelphia Intelligencer: Brian Stann battling for a buddy
  6. The Houston Chronicle: Spencer Fisher finds focus for Sam Stout rematch
  7. The Orange County Register: Live on the set with Randy Couture (with audio)
  8. Radio (Komikazee): MMA Smackdown #26
  9. UFC Junkie: Tito Ortiz calls Chuck Liddell a puppet for Dana White

Topics: Boxing, IFL, MMA, Media, UFC, UK, WEC, Zach Arnold | 21 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

21 Responses to “Wednesday notes: Tito Ortiz talks (again)”

  1. DarthMolen says:

    Umm. It was the title of our show :p We talked about it for a good bit of time. I find it laughable really that such a flimsy excuse for a star could be manufactured… But I guess they have to find something to assuage their pride.

  2. BTW Zach check out the recent speaking out of Koscheck, I posted it on my site.

  3. ken matthews says:

    How why is an energy drink bad for MMA? What difference does that make and why did you state “Actually, the fact that Steele Cage Promotions thinks they should create a sanctioning body within a promotion (the “IFO”) may be more offensive than another energy drink sponsorship.
    ” I would like to know your perspective on it. Thanks

  4. Matthew Watt says:

    I do not know about the rest of you, but the more and more tito talks, the less and less I listen to him.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    I was wrong on predicting the WEC Rating. I guess only the UFC name brand can get such a high number.

    However, this rating shows you the huge difference between Cable & Network TV. The IFL gets .7 ratings and is considered an absolute failure by network TV standards. The WEC gets close to a .4 with around a .6 in the key demographic, and it is considered a moderate success. Two completely different balls of wax. And there is a reason for it. Network TV typically gets a more general audience. It is harder to advertise to that kind of audience. With cable, each station has their own unique demographic. It makes specific products easy to promote because you know who you are reaching as a consumer.

    Either way, the next few shows should be an indication of how the WEC is doing. If it goes up, obviously people were impressed. If it goes down, then it could be a bad sign.

  6. Grape Knee High says:

    “The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia has a critical article on the UFC. All the stereotypes rolled up into one piece.”

    Zach, I think I remember discussing something similar with you in the past, but some of the incorrect stereotypes are, I believe, due to the continued way that the UFC presents itself.

    In my opinion, older mainstream folk will never understand the cage. Ever. Cage fighting brings up brutal connotations; fighting in the ring has already been established in Western society through years of boxing and pro wrestling promotions.

    Also, the UFC does not do very much to sell the skill level of these fighters. Because it is a young sport, novices don’t know how skilled these guys are. All they see are wild punches and rolling around on the ground. In other words, boxing without rules or, to put it bluntly, street fighting.

    The UFC is clearly doing something right in terms of marketing, so I’m not saying they should change anything, but I do think that it shouldn’t be a surprise when people make incorrect assumptions about the sport based on stereotypes since I don’t think they spend that much time countering them.

    Look at those two idiots from TUF that will now have a televised fight. If Dana really didn’t want to sell the street fight aspect, he could have cut it entirely from the season.

  7. Zach Arnold says:

    I’ve always argued in favor of the ring over the cage, with this being a primary reason for it.

  8. 45 Huddle says:

    The ring would never work in America. The whole restart situation would kill it for the real casual fans. Not to mention all of the issues it creates and if this sport blows up even more, those issues would be debated endlessly… Enough to hurt the sport.

  9. Kev says:

    I cannot accept the rationale that the ring is better than the cage because it would be more acceptable to conservative, polite society. There are so many things in MMA that already turns off the Tony Kornheisers of the world: strikes on the ground, propensity for blood (with or without elbows), soccer kicks and stomps, etc., what difference does substituting a ring for a cage do? If MMA is going to rewrite the books on what fighting really is, I don’t see why it cannot rewrite the books on what the venue of the fighting should be.

    I can see arguments for aesthetics, better views for spectators, affects takedowns, hypothetical safety issues, etc. But the idea that it is better because it causes less offense seems irrelevant, sorry, the logic does not hold.

  10. Grape Knee High says:

    Like I said in my original post, I am not advocating that the UFC should change anything (and certainly not to make the sport more palatable for people who will never be fans anyway).

    My only point was the cage comes with baggage, like it or not, and that bad press due to that should be expected if you continue to use a cage (and promote it as an integral part of the sport the way the UFC has).

  11. Tomer Chen says:

    The UFC is clearly doing something right in terms of marketing, so I’m not saying they should change anything, but I do think that it shouldn’t be a surprise when people make incorrect assumptions about the sport based on stereotypes since I don’t think they spend that much time countering them.

    Wasn’t the UFC making a video for athletic commissions (both current for the referees and judges and potential) on the science of MMA? I think a well done video explaining the science of the combat sport and how the .

    As for the SMH article, there’s a few things that pop up for me:

    *The paper is a pretty well regarded (in terms of journalism quality) broadsheet in Australia with a solid conservative base (I guess the best American comparison would be the Wall Street Journal), although, like the Journal, it seems like the Op-Ed section leaves much to be desired in terms of the overall quality of argument/reporting. In addition, given that the WSJ (in its actual reporting section, no less) was pretty damn negative in their presentation of MMA and seemingly lacking in researching, it seems (to me) that the conservative-leaning newspapers are, on occasion, willing to give up serious research in order to make pretty much libelous articles about the nature of a sport that brings controversy with it (as it, in turns, sells papers since both the supporters of the paper and the nay-sayers will want to see what was said).

    *I found it funny that Rampage’s entrance with the chain and howling was mentioned since there are countless examples of colorful entrances historically in Boxing (such as ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather Jr. & Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho coming in with Roman uniforms, Roy Jones Jr., Cory Spinks & ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed rapping to the ring, etc.), so its not really something ’shocking’ from just MMA.

    *It’s good to see the the Op-Ed section doesn’t have to make any form of logical argumentation/presentation as seen by comments such as There are no rules in UFC except that fighters cannot use weapons (Rampage’s chain was for show). Even in the original UFC events, there were a few rules (such as no fishhooking, biting & eye gouging), so it seems like they read the “There are no rules!” tagline from one of the early posters and said “OK” and just blindly wrote it. Pretty shoddy ‘research’, I must say.

    *For a lawyer (as listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Sheehan_%28entertainment_journalist%29), Mr. Sheehan seems to be rather slovenly with regards to his ‘research’ and his attempts to prevent being accused of potentially libelous remarks. Perhaps he needs a journalism ethics course?

  12. grafdog says:

    45huddle= “The ring would never work in America. The whole restart situation would kill it for the real casual fans”

    That makes no sense, IMO.

    The cage is an aberration in the history of fighting arts. Fighting arts throughout history have typically been contested in a ring or open area=boxing k1 wrestling judo jui jitsu sumo karate etc…

    Casual fans could care less about a cage, as i’m sure they’ve seen a boxing or wrestling match before which has no cage.
    Would a casual fan say something like… “yeah well i heard about this mma thing, but once I found out there was no cage involved I said fuck it”?

    NFL restarts when players go out of bounds and is bigger than arena football, which i presume has some type of containment device to prevent this.

    Why has arena football not exploded?

    People pay to see combat not a cage, less cage =more combat.

  13. Michaelthebox says:

    The cage may be an abberation in fighting arts, but then, so is MMA. Almost every prior fighting art involves just standup (suits a ring) or just ground (suits an open space.) MMA is a rather unique combat sport, and it requires a unique arena.

    You bring up the comparisons to boxing and wrestling, but those comparisons are invalid. Boxers basically never get “tied up” in the ropes and restarted, because it is a pure standup sport. And wrestlers also never get tied up, because it is all fake.

    And comparing it to the NFL? A sport which has “restarts” built into its very nature, in the form of plays and downs? You’re really stretching there.

  14. klown says:

    Sorry for the off-topic post, but has anyone seen this fight? Looks like a work!

    PRIDE: Coleman vs Takada
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRXKTTGAQ-g&mode=related&search=

  15. klown says:

    Softspoken Randy Couture on sitting around while shooting Redbelt:

    “Sometimes I think I’d rather be punched in the head, frankly.”

    :)

  16. The Gaijin says:

    Pretty surprised about the WEC rating…that can’t really be considered too much of a success and I thought they were great shows.

    Doesn’t Spike get better ratings with their 2nd rate pro wrestling shows?? IFL doubled the rating and they got SH*T all over for those ratings!! I think WEC might be something that just takes some word of mouth to start getting over.

    I gotta laugh so hard at that arsehole Dana…I hope it eats him up inside that he’s gotta come crawling back to the Silva fight and hyping it back up as the biggest thing since sliced bread after pissing all over Silva’s shoes following the Mirko KO and calling him washed up. Your amazing champ took but ONE punch when actually tested…I bet he’ll be licking his bootheel for a month to get the taste of that crow out of his mouth.

  17. klown says:

    I’m no fan of Tito Ortiz, but he’s right about one thing. Chuck Liddell degraded himself by being Dana White’s mouthpiece in this petty dispute. Unless of course, this is all staged and they’re all having a beer and laughing.

  18. [...] interesting are his comments yesterday on the Jim Rome radio show. He says Chuck Liddell is one of the best, if not the best, [...]

  19. grafdog says:

    My comparisons are valid if you take the time to think about them. Boxing restarts after the clinch all the time, amatuer wrestling, judo restart when out of the circle or square.

    Check this out…

    First off MMA is the cumulative culmination of fighting arts pure and simple.
    It is not an abberation, it does not require a cage which limits both fighters techniques and the spectators view.

    All mma requires is imagination, sadly this is limited in the ufc and its fans of the cage.

    Second…
    I compared the respective POPULARITY of nfl and arena football. I’ll help you out here…

    NFL been around for a while like fighting sports.
    Arena football newer like ufc and uses a cage to contain and maintain the flow of action. Football + hockey style containment system = Arena football, it does not equal more popularity was my point.

    Finally…
    The cage adds a sense of street and illegality to the fights. The cage was designed by John Millius who directed the conan movies which featured conan the barbarian fighting in a cage as a slave. The cage as conceived in the ufc is based on gladiatorial conflict between fighters who have no choice but to fight; the cage is locked until a victor is determined. In that way it is similar in appearance to a dog or cockfight, and the casual viewer will get that impression on a purely(at the least) subconscious level.
    The cage is not unique, it has been done in the past mainly for psychological effect.

    “nuff said

    And yeah that Coleman Takada fight was a total work, Coleman did it for his family, meaning he did it to further his PRO wrestling career in Japan.

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