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How effective was the media campaign against Fedor?

By Zach Arnold | July 31, 2009

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Take everything I wrote yesterday and add this into the equation – Sports Navigator (Yahoo Japan) printed M-1’s denial to the rumors of UFC ‘offering’ Fedor a $30 million USD contract. Note what the headline is in Japan – Denial of UFC offering a 6-fight $30 million contract.

Yes, the article posts M-1’s response to the rumored offer, but UFC and/or their media allies have just used the speed of the news cycle and repetitiveness to get that magical “6-fight, $30 million dollar” number out there.

Even if it’s not true and even when M-1 rejects the rumors, the fact is that you have all sorts of sports web sites, MMA web sites, and blogs that are either running with headlines saying “UFC offered Fedor 6 fights at $30 million” or “M-1 denies a UFC offer of 6-fights, $30 million.” ESPN yesterday on SportsCenter (Thursday morning) did a ‘blog buzz’ segment and Fedor rejecting UFC’s supposed ‘big money offer’ was their fourth-most highlighted item.

All of this gained steam because of a Sacramento radio host who has a close relationship with UFC and an activist media that has openly admitted that they want to advance this story in order to apply pressure on Fedor to sign with the UFC. No matter how many times M-1 says the rumors are false, the fact is that the magical $30 million dollar number has been repeated over and over, meaning both hardcore and casual fans will use it today, tomorrow, and probably two years down the line on any message board or web site debate when talking about Fedor not being in the UFC. Just like other various UFC-related stories (including the Zuffa Myth), expect that $30 million number to be parroted in the press — and UFC doesn’t have to take any responsibility for it, as they don’t have their fingerprints on this… officially-speaking, of course.

Topics: M-1, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 19 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

19 Responses to “How effective was the media campaign against Fedor?”

  1. Bob M says:

    I had heard he was offered $100 million…
    contingent upon ppv buyrates of 1 billion.

  2. Aslak says:

    One has to also realize, that majority of the so called MMA-writers dont have very deep knowledge of the sport or intricacies of NHB fighting and may not have any special angle to write about. So the only reason someone would read their stuff, and thus enable them to keep their job, is to get “inside scoops” by keeping Dana White happy. So their options are not (A) maintain the integrity of journalism and the sport or (B) Be a shill. Their real options are closer to (A) Be a shill or (B) Find another job.

  3. dola says:

    Thank you Zach. Yours was the one voice yesterday that sounded a note of caution when surveying what EVERYONE ran with.

    I don’t know whether it was a valid offer or not, but neither does anyone else besides those on the inside of the negotiations.

    I sure hope that the week mma blogging just had (Fedor, Semtex Daley) isn’t a foreshadowing of the future of journalism. Competition and instant turnaround conspire to produce some real dogshit to mortar around the occasional bricks of actual insightful commentary (like what you write).

    Until a bit more rigorous practices are internalized by the bloggers and the objective role isn’t being a tool for this or that mma promotion, this is all going to be just a hobby with sponsorships.

  4. Mark says:

    I think the tabloids have shown us that the salacious story will always stick no matter what. UFC could announce they were just messing around tomorrow, but the $30 mil rumor would survive. Like if a tabloid posted something outlandish, for example the tale of Michael Jackson buying The Elephant Man’s bones. They later admitted that wasn’t true, but to this day people believe Jackson really did pay the Elephant Man’s family to dig him up and ship his remains to his house.

    Especially since retractions are always buried deep no matter what the media, even if a respectable newspaper has to retract a part of a story it would be buried on page 26A in tiny print. So the UFC adding an asterisk of “We meant $30 mil if every pay per view was a blockbuster success like UFC 100” would be placed in those weekly round-up MMA posts at the bottom.

  5. Adam Smith says:

    Unfortunately the false information campaign was pretty effective for Zuffa, with the usually complicit media. It was sad to see the vast majority of posts spewing personal hate towards the greatest fighter the sport has yet seen. The UFC fans are a sick bunch of kids and the mentally weak. Even after reposting your article in several places it came back to personal attacks like “Finkledick is a jew” and other garbage about Fedor being a coward afraid to fight Lesnar.

    MMA fans and UFC fans are most often not the same thing.

    MMA should be about the athletes and competitors not the organization promoting the fight. The UFC is out of control with the unethical atmosphere they bring to the sport.

    And the majority of the media is in White’s pocket, afraid of him and his crudely weilded influence or just lazy. To lazy to go beyond a Zuffa press release for what they write or use as source material. Until G.Dog White went ballistic on Loretta Hunt, all of Sherdog fawned all over Dana like he was the second coming of Barrack Obama.

    Thanks Zach, you have gained a reader. Ignore the hate from the UFC groupies for providing some much needed objectivity to mma reporting.

  6. Alan Conceicao says:

    I don’t care about the ethical nature of fight promoters for the most part. They act as you would expect them to. Signing the license is a one way ticket to hell, regardless of who you are. The difference here is that the guys who should be reporting are willing to take the ride there so long as they might get some free ringside seats and enough ad revenue to pay off the Chevy Aveo.

  7. Mr.Roadblock says:

    There really is hardly any journalism in MMA. What it mostly boils down to is fans with websites playing telephone.

    As far as ‘activist media’ goes, I’d bet a lot of them just want to see the best fighters all in one promotion. Moreso than they are doing Zuffa’s bidding. One of the things that killed boxing’s huge popularity in the 1990’s is that top guys didn’t fight each other because of sanctioning bodies and management issues.

    Zach, you’ll remember years back I wanted Sylvia and Arlovski to leave UFC for PRIDE to find out who the best was. At that point PRIDE had the best HW division. Now UFC does. So I’d like to see Fedor come into UFC. That’s where the most interesting fights are.

  8. Mark says:

    The thing that people don’t seem to understand from those opposed to the writers in this issue is that this goes beyond offering an opinion. This is totally different than if Luke simply said “Fedor is stupid for turning down this contract.” He was saying he is okay with being lied to and will report a lie as fact without varification if it goes along with his desires. That is completely irresponsible journalism by any definition. There have been a lot of instances of writers blindly pumping out bullshit from UFC, PRIDE, Heroes, WFA, Elite, IFL, Affliction, ect. but they never came out and bragged about doing it purposely. That is the issue.

    And it’s not because I don’t like Luke Thomas. Even if Dave Meltzer made the same comment I would be outraged.

  9. Mark says:

    And also if the situation was reversed, where Thomas was doing this because he wanted to help Fedor and M-1 out in their PR war with UFC and made the same comment, I’d be just as disgusted.

  10. Dave2 says:

    Yeah I noticed that too Adam. The MMA fanbase really seems to be 90+% full of idiotic d-bags. Just look at Sherdog, Bloody Elbow, Fightlinker and all the other trashy MMA websites and blogs. It’s difficult to find that much aggro and hostility elsewhere. American MMA culture is an embarrassment and reminds me a lot of hardcore gamer culture (another fanbase that is mostly composed of d-bags). It’s no wonder why Spike TV’s adverts are geared towards the lowest common denominator in society much like Spike TV’s WWE broadcasts (someone brought up this point before on Fight Opinion). The majority of their fanbase is full of low class (in terms of behavior) immature 18-34 year old man-children. And that’s why the sport will never gain respect from the mainstream media. It’s restricted by what I call the trash ceiling much like WWE was. The UFC will stagnate eventually just like the WWE has.

  11. Mr.Roadblock says:

    MMA will plateau in popularity (it may already have) mostly because the sport is unpalatable to many people.

    The referees could wear white gloves and tuxedos and they could get the Wimbledon announcers and people that don’t like fighting still won’t like MMA.

    MMA is in a better position than WWE because it has a more affluent fan base. WWE’s problem is that even though it delivers a solid audience on TV it can’t generate high ad revenue because the audience is largely comprised of deadbeat losers.

    Wrestling has also proven over the years that the people that watch don’t generally watch anything else on the channel that shows wrestling. That’s why USA and TNT let WWE and WCW go. It’s also why Spike let WWE go when UFC came along and why CW let WWE go.

    UFC has helped Spike a lot in terms of bringing in viewers and establishing a core audience for the network.

    Basically you are right about scumbag fans online, Dave2. But you are not correct about the business parallels on TV. Also bear in mind that the online fanbase is maybe on the super duper high end 10% of the overall fans who watch MMA. It’s maybe 2% of the fans with money that matter.

    The online MMA community is, as Zach aptly dubbed it, an echo chamber.

  12. dola says:

    Well this is a cool corner of the echo chamber. Great thread guys.

  13. Dave2 says:

    Perhaps I’m wrong about the TV thing but what I do know is that Spike TV is a trashy cable network channel (I can’t stomach through any of their other programming like Manswers). Trashy cable network + nu metal + UFC promoting macho posturing/culture + homophobia + hot-headed, foul-mouthed president = what you see on Sherdog.

  14. Orlandomac says:

    What is funny Zach is at least the other two reporters had sources, albeit it slanting in each direction. Which will always work that way when you are getting reports from each camp. No surprise.

    Fedor is losing a lot of fans what do you think their response would be. No one cares what selfish reasons they have, the fans want to see big fights.

    You just have your cognitive bias in overdrive and immediately think that the UFC which is hated in Japan, controls all media outlets.

  15. Orlandomac says:

    Here is a quote from the Fink:

    “It is unfortunate that so much incorrect information has been leaked to the public. It is M-1’s preference not to negotiate in public and we are unsure why people claim that Fedor and M-1 turned down a six fight, $30 million contract to fight in the UFC when no such offer was ever made.

    “Even though Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White did not meet with Fedor in person on Tuesday, they were represented over the phone. Outside of representatives of the UFC and M-1, no other company was represented during our negotiations. Since we did not go to the media with details of the meeting and only responded to the erroneous reports, we are unsure how these reports started.”

    Dissecting that he says that he says that the reports are wrong yet he sites the only ones there were Lorrenzo and Dana on the phone. Why say that if the reports are wrong? No need to mention that they leaked something if the report is untrue, as they couldn’t be the source.

    Read between the lines.. the Fink is a liar, what he meant to say is they did not turn it down they are just fielding more offers.

    Run, run, and hide.. no one is afraid of a Russian chicken.

    Credit to you Zach you got a mention on a creditable program or two. That shows just how powerful a role New media plays in this sport.

    With no creditable sources and just a cognitive bias you managed to get some attention. Kudos…

    I guess you can keep up the work as it is working. Personally I think you are losing more than you are gaining but we are all entitled to an opinion or two.

  16. Adam Smith says:


    I have just come to accept that the mma fan base in north america is dominated by the Zuffa brainwashing that begins the moment their shows start. Goldturd with his enless non sequiters and company hyperbole, Rogan with his drugged screeching commentating, Dana With his endless jr high bully act…

    Let’s face it. Uncle Fester’s Circus is more reality show that sporting event and I don’t care for it. It is purely ego driven, not fan driven. The fans have formed around and been drawn by the goofballs who are not even into the sport part of mma. Just what they percieve as the combat lifestyle bs.

  17. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Dude, the site is called “fightopinion”

  18. Isaiah says:

    Adam and Dave,

    As someone with thousands posts on Sherdog (I know I’m a loser but I’m a loser qualified to talk on the subject), I’d say it comes down to this:

    1. The “team” mentality that is common in all walks of life.

    2. The lack of real independent media (something that has been discussed much and well on this site)

    3. The lack of data points necessary for a really strong quantitative analysis of MMA.

    4. The natural democratic tendency to equate popular success with correctness in the absence of any respected authority and to equate the new with the good.

    5. The almost exclusively young male composition of Internet MMA fandom.

    6. Problems common to all Internet forums.

    You put all of those things together, and you get an area of discussion in which there is no scientifically established truth or respected authority (and thus no way to settle disputes rationally), facts can be ignored because they represent the past and the future is all that matters, people feel emotionally invested in the success in certain promoters, and the ultimate source of all information is press releases/deliberate leaks. And then you get a bunch of aggressive and ignorant people to discuss this issues anonymously on the Internet. You can’t really expect the NYRB letters section.

    Keep up the good work, Zach. I’ve only recently discovered this site, and I love it.

    OK, back to lurking and sorry for the excessively long post.

  19. Zach Arnold says:

    Isaiah – use the contact form and send me an e-mail. Let’s talk a bit.


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