By Zach Arnold | July 30, 2009
I haven’t said much on the whole Fedor “will he or won’t he?” story in regards to whether or not he will go to UFC. I’ve always felt that it will never happen, so why get antsy about it? I think Fedor’s camp will be perfectly happy with having the mystique of their guy being ‘the one that got away’ from UFC.
However, there seems to be a lot of media types who unfortunately are acting more like political activists than actual writers and reporters. What a shock, I know.
On various message boards and web sites (and a couple of radio outlets), we’re now lead to believe ‘rumored’ numbers like Fedor being offered $30 million dollars by UFC, and yet there’s no online ‘fingerprints’ from UFC’s behalf for it. It’s the David Axelrod graduate school of marketing here, but it also helps to have willing participants ready and able to carry your water. (Carmichael Dave is on KHTK in Sacramento and Dana White is a frequent guest.) Have you noticed how the campaign of information and misinformation online is working to discredit Fedor and try to paint him in a bad light? Look, we know he’s isolated and nothing is going to change and whatever happens for the rest of his career, it will be on him in regards to why he didn’t fight in UFC. If that offends you, then it offends you. Obviously he seems happy with his current business arrangements, so let him go off and do whatever he is going to do.
However, this idea that web sites and blogs should participate in an explicit active role of ‘being used’ for spread information/misinformation in regards to what UFC is ‘allegedly’ offering to Fedor’s camp is silly. It plays right into Dana White’s hands. Hey, if the MMA web sites say anything negative about him, he has ammunition to not give them media credentials for live events. And if the web sites start astroturfing in order to generate good press for UFC, well he has his cake and can eat it too.
One of the media tactics that UFC has used in the past with great success, on their own accord and/or through various media members, is that they will float a news item and do it so strongly that by the time there’s evidence to contradict the initial claim, it’s already too late because the majority of people have already bought into what UFC (or the media writer) has said. UFC has managed to use the speed and repetitiveness of news cycles, combined with media laziness, to craft the message they want the public to absorb. You always see this with ‘PPV buyrate trending estimates’ or, the best example, being the Zuffa Myth. It has been said that UFC invented rules and cleaned up MMA so many times in the press that even if you try to correct the record, only a small percentage of media consumers will figure the initial claim is bogus or spin – the majority of media consumers and writers just end up parroting what UFC said in the first place. In fact, this rapid response claim tactic is what UFC does best — and they have willing, anxious participants in the media who are ready to write it and carry water at any time. If you were in UFC’s shoes as a promoter and have a bunch of willing writers willing to carry your message unchallenged, you’d do the same thing. Can’t blame them. In this case, blame the messengers.
The amazing thing in all of this flurry of activity within the last 24 hours is just seeing how many people in the media are so willing to do whatever it takes to get Fedor into UFC. A perfect example of this is right here.
If anyone from M-1 is reading this, allow me to give you a heads up. The more news of these terms spread, the more the MMA fanbase (hardcore and casual) are going to turn on you in what I can guarantee will be pure viciousness in its backlash. Perhaps that is of little concern to you and your motives, but it is an inevitability.
Why the hell would Fedor or his camp care about what writers say about him? Seriously. They’re not the ones paying him $1.5 million USD per fight; promoters are. But I have to admit — Fedor’s camp has opened himself up to this line of attack when they sent out that goofy semi-press release stating that they wanted Brett Rogers instead of Vitor Belfort because of what they saw on a web site.
So the same Fedor fans who are being encouraged to get upset by various web sites because he won’t sign with UFC are just suddenly going to stop watching the guy fight, especially if he fights Josh Barnett in Japan on NYE? Whatever.
I’m more than willing to be a pawn in this negotiations if it means we see Fedor vs. Brock in the UFC.
Let me stress that if you are a fan and you are adamant about doing whatever it takes to drumbeat support for Fedor in UFC, that’s your right. You’re a fan; you’re not a writer and you’re not trying to pass yourself off as a professional. Too many people on various web sites and blogs want ‘respect’ and want to be treated like a professional ‘journalist’, yet act in an entirely different manner. Perhaps Fedor is flushing down some cash down the toilet for not signing with UFC, but the longer this story progresses the more it seems that various UFC boosters are willing to flush their credibility down the toilet as well.
It’s one thing to be an ‘activist’ if you are trying to root out, say, steroids or the mafia from the fight game. It’s another thing to become an activist and to huff and puff when a fighter doesn’t want to sign with your favorite fight promotion.
Addendum: Couple of arguments already against what I’ve written here…
a) I’m not on anyone’s side here. Re-read the article and you’ll see that I’m not siding with Fedor. I don’t care if he’s in the UFC or not. I’m not an activist on this issue and neither should other writers who want to be taken seriously, either.
b) I’m amazed at what people take away from certain articles as opposed to what the whole point of the articles were in the first place. Case in point – the BJ Penn article here yesterday with his quotes about the media ended up turning into… you guessed it… a re-hash flame war debate on Penn vs. GSP, which wasn’t the point of the article. Now with the article about media activism in trying to pressure Fedor to sign with UFC based on generating a negative campaign, people start arguing about… why Fedor is a clown and a bad guy for not signing with UFC.