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Opinion: Dana White is not the right man to lead the UFC during their era on Fox

By Zach Arnold | October 19, 2011

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From time to time, we hear from opinion leaders who want to speak out about the current state of affairs in the sport but are afraid to reveal their name due to fear of repercussions. For this article, that is the case. We will not reveal the author’s identity but will publish this piece which addresses a ‘big picture’ subject.

Dana White has been the catalyst for the UFC’s growth from 2005 to present day. He is the most influential man in the sport and transformed UFC into an MMA empire. He avoided the kinds of pitfalls that doomed promotions like the WFA, the IFL, Affliction, PRIDE, DREAM, and Strikeforce. Thanks to Zuffa’s connections with Ari Emanuel, the promotion was able to bank a seven year, $700 million USD contract with Fox Sports to air UFC content on various Fox-related platforms.

Dana White was the right man at the right time to get the UFC to this business point. However, he is not the right man moving forward.

Out of touch with his fan base

Dana White no longer understands the fan base he is supposed to be catering to. This is a two part issue. The first is the number of PPV’s being run by the UFC. The second is the promoting of the smaller weight classes.

PPV quantity

Before we can get into the meat of this issue, let’s look at the data from 2010/2011. Outlined below are PPV buy rates for months where two PPV’s are promoted:

Running two PPV’s in a month in 2010 worked out well. In 2011, however, the concept has been an unmitigated failure. Only one PPV event in 2011 during multi-PPV months has drawn more than 400,000 buys. The reason is simple — the American economy is still in the toilet and unemployment rates are at miserable levels. Asking fans to pay $50-55 a month on MMA is reasonable. Asking those same fans to spend $100 or more a month is absurd and outrageous.

Promoting smaller weight classes

No matter how tough Frankie Edgar is, he is not Cain Velasquez. No matter how explosive Jose Aldo is, he is not Jon Jones. And no matter how technical Dominick Cruz is, he is not Anderson Silva. The fans know this. Dana White has yet to realize it. UFC fans care the most about Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, and Welterweight. And yet, they are being sold Lightweight, Featherweight, & Bantamweight title fights like they are on the same perch as fights featuring Velasquez, Jones, Silva, or GSP.

Dana White seems unaware of what UFC fans not only want to see, but are willing to pay to see. Dana White could put on a FOUR CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHT PPV featuring: Frankie Edgar vs. Gilbert Melendez, Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes, Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber, & Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrius Johnson… and that four Championship PPV wouldn’t sell as much as a PPV featuring only Lesnar, Velasquez, or GSP.

These lower weight classes should be adding depth to PPV’s, not headlining them. They should be featured on free TV like Cruz vs. Johnson was on Versus, not placed in a double-billing like UFC 136.

A lack of understanding about his company’s roster issues

Dana White no longer understands his stable of fighters. Take a look at what a Fight Opinion site commenter recently stated about the amount of canceled/postponed fights due to injuries or drug testing failures.

That list does not include champions or main event fighters who were out for an extended period of time due to injury such as Cain Velasquez. The data is clear. Injuries to top level fighters happen at a high rate. The trend has lasted for a long enough period of time that we can now assume this to be the norm. This is an unavoidable issue within the UFC landscape. The problem is that Dana White has not adapted his matchmaking philosophy to alleviate the problems.

Look at UFC 135 as an example. The event featured Jon Jones vs. Quinton Jackson and Diego Sanchez vs. Matt Hughes. Now, out of those 4 fighters, there is a good chance that one of them will be injured. The UFC dodged a bullet and Diego Sanchez was the one who was injured. What would have happened if Jon Jones or Quinton Jackson were injured? The card instantly would have fallen apart. There is no leeway for error in Joe Silva’s matchmaking.

Much of this problem can be alleviated by running less PPV’s, therefore freeing up more fighters. However, Zuffa is going the same route as WWE by planning a calendar slate of 34 events in 2012.

Let’s now look at UFC 137. GSP is injured and now we are left with a contractually-scheduled three round Penn vs. Diaz fight. Once again, Dana White did not plan ahead. He gave no leeway for the main event being cancelled. Penn vs. Diaz should have been booked as a five round fight when the bout was signed. It’s a high-enough quality fight to warrant it and when the card was put together, it should have been viewed as a potential replacement for the main event just in case somebody got injured.

UFC must plan ahead and assume the worst-case scenario for fighter injuries in future matchmaking. This is the fairest methodology of matchmaking & preparation to serve UFC ticket holders who are expected to shell out big cash to go to shows expecting a certain level of competition.

Falling out of touch with the boys

“Do you want to be a fucking fighter?” – Dana White (The Ultimate Fighter: Season 1 – 2005)

Remember the context of those words? He was speaking to fighters who were trying to get into the UFC. They were relative rookies in the sport. Those words worked like magic back in 2005 as the UFC faced an uncertain future. It’s that same raw, uncensored attitude that helped Dana White build the UFC into what it is today.

Fast forward to today, six years later. The UFC is filled with a veteran roster. Over 50 UFC fighters have over 10 fights or more. These are proven commodities of the sport. Many of them are champions, former champions, or former title challengers. And yet, Dana White still speaks in this same 2005ish derogatory manner towards these fighters. He has not adapted to the changes of his own company. It’s like a father who speaks to his 25 year old son like he is still in elementary school, either unwilling or incapable of accepting that the person has evolved.

A great example of this is the recent comments by Rich Franklin. By all accounts, Rich Franklin is the model UFC Fighter.

After Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was injured for his UFC 133 bout, Franklin was then offered to fight Alexander Gustafsson. Franklin did not agree with the matchmaking, but agreed to fight him. In a future interview, Dana White threw Franklin under the bus and said Franklin turned down the fight.

Rich’s response?

“(I) was a bit disappointed… I’ll be honest with you, I was a bit disappointed listening to that, because the tone of the interview between you and Dana almost sounded like that. I thought, first of all, I’ve never ducked any other opponent in my life. For that kind of stuff to come out and to question, I guess, my motives or my character or whatever, it was very upsetting to me.

“That feeling of family, it’s dissipated a little bit. It’s not the same as it used to be when I first starting fighting for the UFC, and I basically told Lorenzo that. I said, ‘Hey, I feel like sometimes you guys don’t really have my back,’ and he told me that they’d been really busy with the FOX deal and all that kind of stuff.”

Dana White has thrown so many fighters under the bus in interviews that it has become a chronic problem. It has gone from a promoter being “honest” to a man who can’t help but trash anything he discusses. If the Rich Franklins of the world aren’t even safe from this behavior, then it is safe to assume that no UFC fighter is.

You know who else views their ‘employees’ (independent contractors) like children? Vince McMahon.

Dana White was without question the man for the job for the Spike TV era. However, when you piss off an entire roster of fighters and treat them like kids, you start to build up a lot of mistrust between the promotion and talent. Fear is always a good motivator in the fight game but having your words, as a promoter, being viewed as ‘white noise’ is not good. Dana is showing cracks in his armor and is starting to build momentum for the case that he is not the right man for UFC’s future during the Fox era.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 87 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

87 Responses to “Opinion: Dana White is not the right man to lead the UFC during their era on Fox”

  1. fd2 says:

    “No matter how tough Frankie Edgar is, he is not Cain Velasquez. No matter how explosive Jose Aldo is, he is not Jon Jones. And no matter how technical Dominick Cruz is, he is not Anderson Silva. The fans know this. Dana White has yet to realize it. UFC fans care the most about Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, and Welterweight. And yet, they are being sold Lightweight, Featherweight, & Bantamweight title fights like they are on the same perch as fights featuring Velasquez, Jones, Silva, or GSP.”

    Because if you don’t promote them as if they’re on the same perch as Velasquez, Jones, Silva, or GSP, they never will be. Pushing the smaller weight classes into the co-main ghetto on a permanent basis is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fact that this isn’t self-evident to the author makes me question his judgement vis a vis the rest of this piece.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I do think that, given how pro-wrestling oriented the MMA fan base is, that there is a lot of the ‘that guy looks like my neighbor down the street’ mentality when it comes to the guys smaller than Lightweight. As in, if you are smaller than that weight class for MMA fans, you aren’t to be taken as seriously.

      I don’t know if that will dramatically change or not. Faber seems to be the one who’s broken from the rest of the pack in that regard.

      • fd says:

        This may be true. And it may change, or it may not. But if it does change, it’ll be because consistently putting the lighter champions on the same promotional footing as the heavier gradually changes views, or provides a platform for a few breakout stars at that weight. If they never put the lighter champs on that same promotional footing, it will DEFINITELY never change.

      • Mike Fagan says:

        Boxing has proved that lighter weight class fighters can sell PPVs though. Oscar, Manny, Floyd. Go back to the 80s with Sugar Ray, etc.

    • mooliani says:

      its easy to what if a guy after the mistakes are made but aside from to many ppvs i like danas brash attitude this is mma not a board room he says what oeople want to hear

  2. macaroni says:

    I don’t see how the singular act of replacing Dana White would solve the core issues of the ppv flood and average fans unwillingness to get behind smaller weight classes. I do agree he might not be as optimal a person for the role moving forward as he has been in the past though.

    Is there any way for them to cut back on the ppv volume without it looking like a business failure or sending a signal that mma growth is stalling? If not I guess they are hoping they will grow into this schedule with time.

  3. nottheface says:

    I agree with author’s general thesis: the current “Dana White” character is not the right one to lead the UFC into the future. His infantilizing of the fighters is tiresome. His outbursts, loose tongue. temper, and very persona is a walking time-bomb for a company that will be under much greater scrutiny. As much as his fans love him for his candor he has to be reeled in. Since I believe he is partly a creation for the discarded reality show “American Promoter” it shouldn’t be too hard to get him to take on a more responsible and respectable manner. If he can’t stay in line than move him to the shadows and promote another figurehead.

    The part that the author loses me on – is everything else? Dana White is the one who decides to run 16 ppvs a year? Dana White is the one who decides when and where to place the smaller weight classes? Last I heard, Dana White holds the smallest percentage of Zuffa amongst the four shareholders, meaning most those the issues raised here should be directed at the men who truly are responsible for these decisions – Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

  4. Simon says:

    Zach, I’ve been with you all the way. You’ve said some controversial things before, wrote some controversial articles before. But to allow some anonymous writer to pen this and get away with it without putting his stamp on it is the worst form of journalism. It’s obvious whoever wrote it is afraid of the repercussions. If that’s the case, why write it at all.

    I’m a firm believer in owning everything you do. Standing by your opinions, no matter right or wrong. If you are firm in your convictions and you believe what you wrote, it will come out in the article, in your words. And if you are sincere enough, the reader just may believe what you wrote, or at least have enough foresight to form a different opinion based opposite of the one they had coming into the article.

    Not good Zach. I implore you to reconsider.

    • Simon says:

      Zach, I still stand by this and I would hope that being a journalist, you would too. I understand if “pseudonym” doesn’t want you to reveal his “super secret” identity. Actually, I don’t understand it, but I get why you won’t force the idea. I would hope that you would at least encourage said writer to own his own work. This is my problem with mma. The state of journalism. Earlier today I saw Snowden complaining about what question was first asked at today’s press conference.

      As if he would of asked what needed to be asked. Like asking about what Dana plans to do about the blatant homophobia that has persisted today in mma. When will Snowden ever find the time to ask a pertinent question like that? What’s he, or any of the other countless blogg…er journalist covering the sport got to be afraid of? Dana cancelling their credentials? Over the such a controversial topic? He’d never hear the end of if and he also never get away with it. You know how much shit Dana would get from activists groups (*note) should Dana ever deny the press over a legitimate questions like that?

      That’s one of many issues I have with blog…uh…journalist, they are too worried about stupid shit, so much so they bit their tongues so much they no longer know what to say/ask. Grow a pair media. There are only a few writers worth their salt.

      *note-The legitimacy of their arguments are another thing all together. We need to move past getting offended by what others say or do and start teaching the younger generations the rights and wrongs and the morals that will make this world a better place, instead of dwelling on subjects that have been ingrained in our cultures by the bigoted ignoramuses who came before us.

      • Jonathan Snowden says:

        “Earlier today I saw Snowden complaining about what question was first asked at today’s press conference.”

        I don’t know what you are talking about. I didn’t listen to the press call and have no idea what questions were asked. I’m sure they were typical press call questions.

        • Simon says:

          Bullshit John, we follow each other on twitter. Unless I’m mistaken, you said something about how the first caller was asking about the UFC Gym in Hawaii, essentially complaining about how lame the mma media is for that to be the first question asked. Unless I’m mistaken, of course.

        • Simon says:

          Well, I guess I was wrong. Looked at your timeline and the tweet I was referring to was either never there or is no longer there. And I know how you are about not deleting tweets or blocking followers, so I admit I was wrong. Some one in the mma media made the remark, dammit. My apologizes.

        • Mike Fagan says:

          He’s referring to me. Not sure how he screwed the two of us up.

  5. Simon says:

    So far, here are a few of my criticisms: Taking Dave “I cover mma in my spare time” Meltzer at his word on PPV buys has always boggled my mind. Does he have inside info on the buy rates? I’m sure he does. Does he have the actual numbers? Nope. Not even close. Dana has said so in the past.

    Second, so far “troll author” seems to have an agenda. Claiming that Dana is out of touch with the UFC fan base isn’t rooted in fact. It’s rooted in how HE perceives certain actions and events that have happened in the past. He’s making the same mistake Josh Gross did when he penned that obnoxious open letter to Dana White which made me and many other fans of mma consider him a joke. Is Josh a good journalist? What’s your definition of good? I do know this, when a journalist writes a letter where every sentence make him come off as a bitter, butt-hurt fanboy and somehow the sport of MMA is his and his alone, I don’t consider that good journalism at all. I liken it to a vengeful yet spurned ex-boyfriend who had his dream girl taken away from him by the much more handsome, rich and powerful douchebag.

    That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      It’s a commentary piece, not a news item. It’s maybe the second time in the six-year history of this site I’ve done it. There are very few, if any, people who are as transparent and critical as I am (and those people are ones I frequently give credit to).

      Going the ‘name withheld’ route is not a regular policy here. However, the points that the person in question made were interesting and provocative.

      I wouldn’t exactly label this a ‘journalism’ piece nor would I ever try to in the first place.

      • Simon says:

        That’s why you’re my favorite Zach, and don’t change man. I guess I jumped the gun and overreacted. I’m a little worked up over some things going on with my situation right now.

      • fd says:

        I don’t have any problem with you publishing this anonymously; that’s your decision and there’s a long history of that in journalism.

        However, this piece shows poor judgement (my issues stated with the smaller fighters issue) a lack of understanding of the subject matter (as noted by nottheface – “Dana White is the one who decides to run 16 ppvs a year? Dana White is the one who decides when and where to place the smaller weight classes? Last I heard, Dana White holds the smallest percentage of Zuffa amongst the four shareholders, meaning most those the issues raised here should be directed at the men who truly are responsible for these decisions – Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.”) and flat out ignorance – referring to the 2011 ppv schedule as an “unmitigated failure” is pure fantasy.

        In the future, airing anonymous opinion pieces isn’t something that I am opposed to in principle – but I think you should think long and hard before airing an opinion piece from this specific source again. I’m far from the only person to notice the egregious flaws in their logic.

  6. Simon says:

    One more point that was pointed out above is the amount of PPV’s. UFC looks at that as, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. As stupid and as flawed as that may seem, it’s how they do things.

    But who’s to say they are running too many? The way Pro-Wrestling tanked when they tried doing the same thing? I say let them try it out. If it doesn’t work out, which according to WWE history it hasn’t and it won’t, then oh well. You have to try when you run a billion dollar business. If you aren’t trying, you will never succeed at anything.

    As far as Dana not being the person to lead the charge so to speak, I’m not so sure about that. There are a lot of people in this world who are tired of the same old way things are run and those same people jump on the chance to differentiate themselves from the norm. People like me who run away from they typical, milquetoast personas who run everything. Could and should Dana change the way he handles certain things or situations? Yeah, and I’ve always said so. But I don’t want a sport that was built on a certain way of handling things opposite of the way others handle things, to become anything like those other sports.

    I guess my critiques and criticisms are different in nature than most other peoples. I’m down with Dana being the person in charge, as long as we don’t regress, or go in a direction that placates that unwanted segment of society filled with douchebag, type A personalities, and the like.

    Still reading.

  7. Simon says:

    Let’s now look at UFC 137. GSP is injured and now we are left with a contractually-scheduled three round Penn vs. Diaz fight. Once again, Dana White did not plan ahead. He gave no leeway for the main event being cancelled. Penn vs. Diaz should have been booked as a five round fight when the bout was signed. It’s a high-enough quality fight to warrant it and when the card was put together, it should have been viewed as a potential replacement for the main event just in case somebody got injured.

    I’m under the impression that when Dana first announced that they would go the way of making all main events 5 rounders, that they would do so only for fights signed after a certain date, for main events only, and that any fight that, just as in this case, had to be moved up to main event status, would be made so with the understanding that if a fight was signed for 3 rounds, it stays 3 rounds as it’s unfair to both fighters to ask them to train for 3, only then to ask them to go 5 later on in the training camp.

    And to compare Dana to Vince is unfair in that Dana does NOT treat his roster anywhere near as bad as Vince has treated his. Yes Dana talks shit and blah blah blah, but look at the entire history of not just the wrestlers, but the rest of his employees. Only a small, certain number of fighters have spoken out about their treatment at the hands of Dana, but even with the Rich thing, I looked at that as a lack of/miscommunication on both parties fault. Not on Rich’s part, but more so his manager. These managers, and agents, for these fighters are a joke. There’s a history of managers who drop the ball for their fighters in mma and not enough is said about that.

  8. majick says:

    “Running two PPV’s in a month in 2010 worked out well. In 2011, however, the concept has been an unmitigated failure.”

    Aren’t they grossing over $10M on even the smaller events? Are they somehow losing money running these events? What makes them an “unmitigated failure?”

    “The reason is simple — the American economy is still in the toilet and unemployment rates are at miserable levels.”

    I believe the unemployment rate was higher in 2010 when running 2 shows in a month “worked out well.” The economy is in the toilet and yet the UFC is one of the few businesses expanding. Doesn’t that tell us something?

    • Steve4192 says:

      I found that whole point to be rather vapid.

      First of all, there is nothing ’simple’ about why PPV rates fluctuate from year to year. There have been a wide variety of factors which have contributed to the dip. Personally, I don’t see the economy as a major factor since it has been in the crapper for much of Zuffa’s recent run of success. That variable has not changed.

      Second, the knee-jerk reaction that a one-year dip translates to Dana not understanding his market is ludicrous. No business can maintain growth indefinitely. Every thriving business eventually hits a lull. This isn’t the first time Zuffa has seen a dip in PPV buys during the post-TUF era. After PPV buys exploded back in 2006, they fell back a bit in 2007 before rebounding strongly over the next three years. Was Dana out of touch then too? Or did Zuffa just have a crappy year that they came back from stronger than ever?

      • Jonathan Snowden says:

        “After PPV buys exploded back in 2006, they fell back a bit in 2007 before rebounding strongly over the next three years. Was Dana out of touch then too? Or did Zuffa just have a crappy year that they came back from stronger than ever?”

        The correct answer, of course, is not listed. The company signed Brock Lesnar in 2008.

        • Steve4192 says:

          Signing Lesnar was certainly a big part of it, but that doesn’t explain why the growth continued in 2009 and 2010.

          Regardless, the point remains. No company can maintain growth indefinitely. Zuffa had a two-year boom in 2005-20006, then took a step back in 2007, followed up with a three year boom from 2008-2010, and then took another step back in 2011.

          Will the FOX deal kick off another boom period in 2012 the same way the Lesnar signing kicked off the 2008-2010 boom? I have no idea. But it is way too early to tell whether 2011 is just another consolidation year or whether it represents a true step back in the fortunes of the company.

        • Jonathan Snowden says:

          I agree with you. I just wanted to pinpoint where credit was due. Signing Lesnar, in the face of some hardcore and internal complaints, was Dana’s ultimate finger on the pulse moment.

  9. James says:

    I thought the point of this article would be that Dana’s brash personality will hinder mainstream America’s acceptance of the UFC. Instead it’s an argument against the UFC’s business plan. First of all, there is no way of knowing exactly how much the UFC profits from each show. A lot of these low selling ppvs feature lower paid fighters. If a ppv sells half as much but also costs half as much to produce, who determines whether it’s a bad business decision?

    My second point is that few businesses will stop expanding before they determine they have oversaturated the market. If the UFC doesn’t think they are putting on too many shows, I don’t know how anyone else can argue that they are.

    • Simon says:

      One point to add on to what you said, I’m a firm believer in the fact that buy rates have dropped because people are finding ways to get around paying for PPV’s.

      I know of 3 people whom I used to be friends with who stream ever PPV, no matter what. It’s so rampant, they no longer pay for any PPVs. Not one.

      I’ve streamed 3 PPVs in my life time, and one was boxing, but that was because I wanted to see Pac-man, not a bunch of weak boxers running and jabbing and grabbing their way to a decision.

      The other two I streamed because I had no way of ordering them, I had the money.

      That said, I’m afraid that problem will not go away. Mainly because it’s not just hardcore fans who are streaming it.

      I’ve seen a weird segment of the fan base who aren’t your typical hardcore fan who finds an illegal stream.

      I saw on Justin.tv on one stream, wasn’t a live stream, they were showing old DVD’s where this group of what seemed to be kids who bragged incessantly about not paying, and they turned a bunch of potential buyers and potential new fans onto free streams. It was an odd occurrence, seeing casual fans bragging about shit like that, to say the least.

      • Jason Harris says:

        Everyone I know watches the fights socially with friends. Either at a bar, or someone’s house.

        Sure, you can stream it for free on some grainy internet feed.

        And you’re sitting forever alone at a computer on Saturday night staring at a bootleg MMA stream. Have fun with that.

  10. pretorian says:

    This has to be the worst thought out piece ive ever read.

    If you dont position lighter weights in marquee positions then they’ll never draw. The MW division used to also draw crap numbers and occasion still does.

    The biggest drawing fighters in boxing are 145lbers.

    16 ppv’s a year did hurt but it was also the catalyst to the fox deal. If you dont have the fights or the logistical ability then you cant sign a deal like this.

    The result? you now have 4 fights on fox and next year there will be 12 or 13 ppv’s.

    If you have 8 weight classes (with flyweight being added soon) you need to have 34 events a year to properly develop talent within each weight class.

    Injuries are a reality. You cant control it. And you cant cherry pick this fight will be 5 rounds incase the main event falls out.

    5 round non title fight main events havent even started yet and this is your argument for Dana not being the guy?

    Injuries need to be minimized but that has as much to do with the camps as it does Zuffa. It’s part of the growing pains as training best practices havent fully developed yet.

    Nothing goes up in a straight line. PPV buys needed to correct. which is healthy because if it didnt the drop would be alot bigger and it would dissapear like a fad. After it consolidates new highs will be reached and in once the new highs are reached the same type of correction will happen.

    Long Term Zuffa is in an absolute beautiful spot.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      The biggest drawing fighters in boxing are 145lbers.

      16 ppv’s a year did hurt but it was also the catalyst to the fox deal. If you dont have the fights or the logistical ability then you cant sign a deal like this.

      If you believe that boxing & MMA are two separate audiences (which they are even though MMA fans will watch big boxing fights), then it’s not a total stretch to say that the tastes of MMA fans for smaller weight class fighters is different than boxing (right now).

      The catalyst to the Fox deal was Ari Emanuel, not how many PPVs you run. If we went by the sheer number of PPVs as a barometer of success, TNA would be a juggernaut by now. :)

      • pretorian says:

        Logistically it makes a huge difference if Zuffa can sign and fulfill a deal like fox’s.

        You dont get a roster and infrastructure over night unless you build to it. The last 2 years was building towards having the capability to fulfill 4 shows on a network like fox while still being able to maintain a dozen or so ppv’s.

        16 ppv’s were necessary to build the infrastructure, roster and talent to do just that.

        250k buys still translates close to 6 million in Zuffa revenue (bar receipts included).

        The TNA comparison is silly.

        In terms of how audiences differ in their perceptions of the lower weight classes (boxing vs mma) obviously that makes it even more important to position them in marquee spots to slowly change that perception.

  11. Fightlinker says:

    Can we at least get some context on who this person is? Longtime fan? Well known MMA journalist? Anything?

    As for what they wrote,

    Out of touch with his fan base: You never really explain how this is true. To start, Dana White has his OWN fan base. But if you’re talking about the general MMA fan base, I’d say regardless of your opinion of his behavior or abilities the idea that he doesn’t know what MMA fans want is crazy.

    PPV quantity: Not all events are created equally. A lot of the shitty ppvs you mention sucked because of weak cards, whether due to injury gypsy curse or just not having enough stars. Mostly it was the injury curse. The UFC is going from 15 to 12 PPVs next year, so it seems like Dana’s already addressing this issue anyways.

    Promoting smaller weight classes: Considering the new weight classes are thus far being teamed up with other titles on PPVs or put on free tv straight up, I’d say Dana understands the relative value of these weight classes versus his money classes

    A lack of understanding about his company’s roster issues: I don’t get this one. Fighters pull out of fights due to injury. That’s the reality of the situation and yeah sometimes it’s going to be the main event getting cancelled. What is Dana White supposed to be doing that he’s not? It’s a rare card that can survive the loss of it’s main event unscathed, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

    Falling out of touch with the boys: Dana White fights with guys on his roster sometimes. True, but truth be told he’s got them on a leash, which is a way better situation than them having control. There may be many times when we hate how dana behaves (ie with Fedor or playing hardball with Randy Couture etc) but his methods work and until they stop and shit starts to unravel (which it shows no signs of doing) I think this issue isn’t a big deal either.

    • Simon says:

      You pretty much smashed “hackwriter’s” entire article. Everything you addressed seems pretty accurate to me.

      I’m glad FO allowed some thought provoking material to be published, maybe not in this context with the whole identity crisis thing the writer has going for his self, but next time said writer needs to come prepared and able to back up his claims with actual facts.

      Had he stepped back and looked at what he wrote from a different perceptive, I’m not sure he would of went thru with writing this piece.

      I know this much, whoever wrote it, took care to make sure his real writing style didn’t shine thru, as it would tip several people off to the identity of the person who wrote it.

    • RST says:

      Its snowden, duh. ;)

  12. CAINtheBULL says:

    All my problems with this terrible opinion piece have been mostly covered.

    A couple of things:

    This reads like something Franks Shamrock would write about Dana.

    Or, Like something written by an insider that feels burned. Dana has already sited a UFC department for the switch in hour which he feels lead to poor PPV sales. Is it the department head? You know someone took the personal blame.

    As far as the amount of PPVs….

    Dana once said something like, “Lorenzo wants to keep raising prices and adding more PPVs but i’m not letting him.” Dana is promoter (face) but Lorenzo is the business man behind the UFC.

    The UFC clearly spent 2011 trying to find the limit for them in the PPV market. They found it and next year they are readjusting by doing far less PPVs.

    Yeah they are doing 34 shows but they merged with WEC and are about to completely merge with Strikeforce. That is a lot more talent that needs fights. More talent= More shows. Simple math.

    Another thing, The UFC is a private company but they do have foreign investors that they have to keep happy. I wonder how that’s affecting how they run their business.

  13. Norm says:

    Is this yesterday’s favorite whipping boy, Mike Fagan’s piece?

    Two other points that have yet to be made.

    -Do we actually know for sure Cain Velasquez is a draw? He is a great fighter for sure, but has about as much personality as my microwave. He also had Lesnar helping sell PPV’s his last time out.

    -Could the lighter guys, specifically Edgar and Cruz, not draw because of the way they fight? BJ seemed to do good PPV numbers when he was champ. Miguel Torres and Uriah Faber fought different styles than Cruz and Edgar, and though were not headlining PPV, they seemed to do decent on VS. My point is as long as Edgar and Cruz fight the way the do (on points, minus Edgar’s last fight) they will probably never draw.

    • Mike Fagan says:

      1) I would have no problem writing this with my name on it.

      2) I would never call the UFC a failure based on 2 years worth of data. Especially when they’re still making money hand over fist.

  14. Steve4192 says:

    Zach, as Fightlinker mentioned above, can you at least give us some context as to who this mystery writer is? Is (s)he an agent/manager? A fighter? A sponsor? A broadcaster?

    Ed. — The person in question has been a big ally of UFC. That’s why when I read it I was quite taken aback. It’s from someone who I respect.

  15. BD says:

    Couple of things to bear in mind:

    1. The reception Dana gets at a Fan Expo or in other forums is actually a little frightening. He’s revered. Some people are on the verge of thinking they can be healed by touching the hem of his jeans.

    2. It’s not just Lesnar behind the PPVs being up and down. UFC has lost Liddell and Couture. GSP is injured and has attracted some detractors. A. Silva is hit or miss. It’s almost like the NBA after Michael Jordan — and MMA is a far more individual-driven sport than the NBA. (Wow, that might be the most obvious thing I’ve ever said.)

    3. The comments on lower weight classes are overblown. No, Cruz isn’t Lesnar. But have you seen better fights this year than the Edgar-Maynard fights? Give the casual fans a little bit of credit.

    4. The point about fighter treatment is the most interesting.

    But the bottom line is this: The UFC is getting far too big for Dana to keep playing the role he has been playing. Look at TUF this season. Dana has gone from being a main character in the show to making a string of cameos. He’s on the pre-fight conference calls far less often. Reed Harris was a last-minute fill-in for him on the pre-fight press conference in D.C., with Dana flying in just in time for the weigh-ins.

    So his role is going to evolve. If the UFC really does a Japan-Vegas doubleheader on one day, Dana might actually miss a fight card. He may not be able to go to TUF tryouts in the Philippines if he has other business keeping him Stateside.

    The question will be how well other people step up and take on more responsibility.

  16. ElbowLocK says:

    Throw me into the camp that the above seems comes across a bit sleazy. That’s all well and good that it’s only been done a few times (according to Zach), but who cares? It’s pretty black or white. You do it, or you don’t. And if you want to put up these types of articles, with supposed insiders who won’t reveal their identity, then just put the article up. Let the article stand on it’s own merits. WITHOUT the use of tabloid style sleaze journalism. No need to stoop in the gutter and make this place look like FightOpinionTMZ.

  17. ElbowLocK says:

    A second point, regarding anonymous insider’s article. Zach portrays this person as someone important. The anonymous person tries to portray himself as someone important, someone who knows information on the UFC. So looking at this person’s first point, he/she comes to the conclusion that “…Running two PPV’s in a month in 2010 worked out well. In 2011, however, the concept has been an unmitigated failure.”

    Unmitigated failure?

    Based on what? His insider or important status? Well, he can’t that important of a person. Because if you spend 30 seconds and look at his ppv analysis, he is just doing what anyone else would do, pulling numbers off of MMAPayout’s Blue Book. Nothing really special there. And coming to the conclusion of ‘unmitigated failure’ based on those numbers is a bit ridiculous. How important of a person can this guy be, if he didn’t even know that MMAPayout’s Blue Book is a crock of bs. If you spend even thirty minutes of researching this matter, you will know there is no research or cable company reports to back anything up. It’s just a list of numbers taken directly (and entirely) from Dave Meltzer’s supposed cable company sources. Take that for what it’s worth. There is no cable company secret reports that Dave gets. The entire MMA blogging/journalism industry likes to run around puffing up those numbers as data, but it’s all based on one person’s word. And he can’t back it up with anything, other than ‘believe me’.

    That’s sloppy journalism and Zach, that makes you look bad.

    why is this supposed important person just pulling ppv numbers right off of MMAPayout’s ‘Blue Book’?

    If he is this supposed important person, why i

    • Simon says:

      Great point. I’ve harped on the fact those numbers mean only what Dave Meltzer and his fans want them to mean. Dana has said those numbers are bullshit, but has turned right around and told the media to get the numbers from Dave on occasion. Even still, one of the bigger problems UFC are facing are the amount of people streaming these PPVs.

      I think Dana tried really hard to scare away anyone on the fence about whether or not they should stream it w/o paying for it, but in the end he knew his attempts were futile. I’m also sure the fact that so many people have found they can get away with streaming for free, along with PPV rates obviously not being where they are supposed to, has helped lead UFC down the path to hurrying up and finally taking the jump to Cable.

  18. Norm says:

    Is this yesterday’s conference call whipping boy, Mike Fagan’s work?

    -Cruz and Edgar are not draws because their style, not because of their weight. BJ Penn draws at LW, or any weight for that matter.

    -We don’t know if Cain draws, because he was aided by Lesnar in his last fight, and the FOX show doesn’t help us figure out if he will draw, we have to wait until he fights on PPV.

    -”MMA Media” has a hard enough time coming off as legit, this piece is not going to help matters.

  19. Alan Conceicao says:

    Dana is as good as anyone to run the UFC. I don’t blame him solely for the structure of the way the UFC runs things, which is my greatest caveat towards them. Considering that the UFC on Fox era hasn’t even started, and no one knows what kind of ratings it will pull down or even if it will get cancelled within a year, who knows, who cares.

  20. Lewis says:

    We get it Zach, you don’t like Dana White.

    Ed. — If someone wrote a post praising him and did a historical perspective on him, I’d post it.

    • Simon says:

      Don’t confuse Zach desire to see things from all angles and perspectives as being even remotely the same as the countless bloggers, hacks, and “haters”(God I hate that word, and anyone who uses it on a daily basis) do on their sites. Zach approaches the topic at hand like a professional journalist. He doesn’t come in with a biased opinion that only a certain few can get behind.

      I’ve seen Zach praise Dana/UFC, only to get trounced by the opposite of you, the people who believe everyone should hate Dana. I appreciate any and all writers who approach any topic this way. MMA needs as many Zach Arnolds as we can get. The mma media absolutely sucks and I have no shame in calling anyone of those asshat hacks out on their shit. I don’t always agree with Zach, just like I don’t always agree with Snowden, but I can respect both of them because of their approach to covering the sport.

  21. ElbowLocK says:

    Looking at Zach’s first part of his post. Maybe someone else could also clarify what exactly an “opinion leader” is?

    If this person is a leader of giving ‘opinions’, then why exactly would there be ‘repercussions’ if this person shared his thoughts? I mean, come on, he became a leader of opinions, not by baking bread, but by giving opinions. But now, his go-to trademark that made him a leader, cannot be done, for fear of punishment?

    I’m a bit lost on the logic with that.

  22. Paradoxx says:

    Sad. Very sad.

    Theres some big stuff going on and THIS gets a whiny wall of text.

  23. IceMuncher says:

    The problem with being the figurehead of a company is that people assume EVERY decision and action was yours and yours alone. These sound like general UFC problems, not Dana White specific problems, and they’ve already been ripped apart so I’ll leave it at that.

  24. ergface says:

    Critiscisms aside I think the author is onto something as regards how the lighter divisions are being used. What the author offers may not be the one right path but UFC needs to think about how they promote them. The scramble to climb the ladder and be the best is not as meaningful in these classes, I feel like something more has to be sold. IMHO to be a big draw a small fighter needs to have a unique style, breathtaking activity level, crushing power, impeccable technique, or an ethnic affiliation.

    It may be that in boxing the lighter weights contain big draws, but those lighter guys who draw were not stars from day one or merely because they worked their way to championships. There are many champions in those classes who continue to toil in obscurity; typically those lighter men who are draws in boxing are actually special to their audience in some way. As far as MMA’s lighter weights though some of these guys may now have a UFC belt it will take more time and more than just winning for any of them to build a following. In either sport a small man has to be something extra special, either in athletic talent, technique or toughness, to become noticed.

    Additionally the heavier classes in MMA simply don’t stink as much as they currently do in boxing, where north of 168lbs it’s a wasteland.

  25. RST says:

    “These lower weight classes should be adding depth to PPV’s, not headlining them.”

    Agreed.

    It might be possible that a lot of the problems mentioned in the article could be solved by paring back so many events. But you cant tell anybody to stop making as much money as they can or taking advantage if they can, that only falls on deaf ears.

    NOBODY around here, including Dana is going to recognize those words as spoken in the english language until real bottom line financial results translate it.

    I disagree with some of the things Dana does, and I think he is getting a little weirder as his dreams are coming true, but thats what success does to people.
    I call it the Michael Jackson effect.
    Anybody who can resist being altered by their success is the exception not the rule.

    I just cant picture who would not be as big of a twit or do a much better job then Dana at this point, flaws and all.

    • RST says:

      Just to clarify, I’m not trying to knock the small guys.

      They’re exceptional athletes and just as talented as anybody. But outside of “must see” specimens like Aldo, ordinary shlubs just dont get as worked up for the sparkplugs as they do for the bigger more imposing guys.

      It might be unfair, but it is what it is.

      Its not lucrative business to offer a headlining match between two grueling wrestlers or sub guys either.
      Even though they are just as indispensable to the sport and just as talented.

      We have to package and reasonably sell these things for everybody on the roster to get paid.

  26. Lucas Loring says:

    What kind of HACK writer does not stand behind his work? To write such things and then hide behind anonymity is the worse of the worse. I will call this writer out as a genuine pussy. And I WILL attach my name to it! Keep your opinions to yourself or on the forums like all the other amateur POSTERS or be an F’n professional and stand behind the BS you write.

  27. Stel says:

    I pointed this out years ago, Dana’s grade school potty mouth and childish tantrums hinder the larger public perception of the sport/UFC.
    But hey! with the sons of a mobster working with the son of a terrorist whose brother used to run Obama, it really doesn’t matter, they can do what they want.

    • Jason Harris says:

      How many other sports CEOs do you see on financial channels talking about how successful their business model is?

  28. Ollie says:

    Why doesn’t the author of this article make any reference to the UFC’s new fighter insurance policy?

    Before 2011, fighters would fight injured all the time because they needed to get paid to pay there medical bills.

    Now ANY UFC fighter(s) are covered up to $50,000 A YEAR in medical expenses/bills!!! This alone will naturally encourage more and more fighters to drop out of a fight due to injuries as they no longer have to fight injured to pay for there medical bills.

    Did the author of this article ever consider that one point when he decided to talk about how the quality of fights/fighters fighting on a ppv affects ppv buys?? I highly doubt he did.

  29. RST says:

    I dont really care for the suggestion of jettisoning the guy who took you this far so that you can nebulously “take it to the next level” either.

    If I’m understanding it correctly, if this article were translated from rhetoric into plain laymans terms it suggests:

    “you’ve done a fine job here sir. You’ve built something very nice. So we’ll take it from here. Because its too nice for people like you.”

  30. Jason Harris says:

    Out of touch with his fan base – Dana White has 1.6 million followers on twitter. That’s over 5x the amount of followers of fan favorite Georges St. Pierre, and 4x the amount of followers the official UFC account has. Apparently somebody likes him.

    PPV quantity – Apparently running an immensely profitable PPV every month is how this anonymous author definese “unmitigated failure”.

    Promoting smaller weight classes – Yeah, nobody likes those Lightweights. Boxing doesn’t get by on guys who weigh 145, and BJ Penn has never been popular. Has this author watched MMA in the last 5 years?

    A lack of understanding about his company’s roster issues – Yeah, ok. This is all because they didn’t do a 5 round main event? Who gives a shit?

    Falling out of touch with the boys – “I cherry picked a quote of someone saying it feels ‘less like family’ and extrapolated from that that all of the UFC fighters are unhappy. I have willingly ignored the landslide of evidence to the contrary.”

    This is amateur hour, and the only reason the author’s name wasn’t posted is because it’s either something that they aren’t willing to stand behind, or because they are known as a hack.

    Additional point, I really can’t stand the people who only view MMA through a pro wrestling spectrum, or insist that MMA is all pro wrestling fans. It’s not. Just because you the writer love pro wrestling, doesn’t mean that’s the bulk of the MMA fanbase.

  31. Chris says:

    Slam Dunk Mr. Arnold.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Except I didn’t write it. :)

      I think it’s funny that people would assume I would hide my name from any written article I’ve ever produced. I’m the same guy who stuck my neck out during a mafia scandal. I’m not hiding any time soon.

      • edub says:

        You must have at least 3 flak vests.

      • ElbowlocK says:

        …but yet you hide the hack’s identity and publish his trash-ridden article on your website.

        Funny how that works.

        Ed. — What is your point?

        • Jason Harris says:

          I think the point is this site isn’t in the habit of anonymously posting any crap article written by anyone who gets half a stock seeing their name in press, so why this article?

  32. RST says:

    Dana to MMA has similarities to Jobs to Apple IMO.

    Jobs didn’t invent the home computer.
    But realized and guided them into mass acceptance (MS and IBM were catching up with apple).

    Dana didn’t invent MMA.
    But recognized its potential, practically in its deaththrows, and guided it into acceptance.

    Jobs was an infamous tyrant behind the scenes with his employees, while also inspiring tremendous faith in them.

    Dana has a potty mouth.
    But every serious MMA fighter wants to fight for Dana and his organization.

    Jobs was the recognizable face of Apple.
    He gave Apple a face that you can remember and relate to.

    As is Ronald McDonald in his field, and so is Dana.

    In 1985 a board of smartbutts thought it was a good idea to replace Jobs with a Pepsi guy.

    And Apple pretty much disappeared within the next 3 years, equivalent to MMA’s “dark years”, only to resurface 10-12 years later with the return of Jobs.

    The authors logic is traditional, although arguable in its benefits for an older business model.

    But likely even slimier and more inapplicable for a new sport, in a new economy for a new generation.

  33. Zack says:

    Kind of a lame article to demand anonymity for. UFC’s numbers are down due to over saturation which they’ve addressed with the decrease in PPVs next year.

    They’re changing up TUF and hopefully can get some decent cross promotion with the Fox brands to bring up TV numbers.

    It’s also funny to knock the little guys when the last card had two title fights and was a good card. It was a way better card on paper and in actuality than the recent Rampage vs Hammill card. But it was sandwiched between two more desirable PPVs that hurt it.

    Again, this issue is being addressed, or so it seems.

  34. ElbowlocK says:

    ^^^^^ to the above guy, Alan Conceico,

    You raise the point I mentioned before. No one really knows for sure how much ppv’s have dropped. We don’t know if it’s an alarming 25%, or a noticeable 15%. It could be a smaller 5% or not even a drop at all. We don’t know for sure, because ALL the ppv data is private. And when Zach and other mma bloggers put up all these economic projection articles (like the garbage writer he is protecting), they almost always without fail fall back on MMAPayout’s ‘blue book’ for their information. The ‘blue book’ sounds nice, it looks official. It has all the events and a ppv result for every show. Looks official. Except for ALL the data comes from one source….Dave Meltzer. And Dave Meltzer doesn’t get his numbers from any documented or public source. He just makes them up. And then says his numbers are from an ‘inside source’.

    Nice system, isn’t it? Nice scam by Meltzer and nice of the bloggers to run with it.

    So Dave makes up the numbers….and the a whole cottage industry of bloggers write these in depth articles breaking down how ppv’s are down ‘14.6%’, with all the whys and whats with this news. Makes for nice, official sounding articles, but unfortunately, it’s not based on any reality.

    • Jonathan Snowden says:

      I’ve been told by a source who would know and who has never lied to me about anything that Meltzer’s PPV numbers are pretty close to the mark. For what it’s worth.

  35. [...] Fight Opinion says that Dana White is not the right man to lead the UFC during their era on Fox: Dana White has been the catalyst for the UFC’s growth from 2005 to present day. He is the most influential man in the sport and transformed UFC into an MMA empire. He avoided the kinds of pitfalls that doomed promotions like the WFA, the IFL, Affliction, PRIDE, DREAM, and Strikeforce. Dana White was the right man at the right time to get the UFC to this business point. However, he is not the right man moving forward. [...]

  36. Anonymouse says:

    The reason the author doesn´t want his name published, is because he´s actually been one of the UFC`s biggest allies when it comes to journalism.

    He is Kevin Iole.

  37. Matt C. says:

    Falling out of touch with the boys…. then citing Rich Franklin as the only example.

    That whole section turns to bullshit with this quote “It has gone from a promoter being “honest” to a man who can’t help but trash anything he discusses.”

    Really… Dana can’t discuss anything without trashing it. The same guy that went out of his way to get Mark Hunt to attend the post-fight press conference so he could tell everyone about Mark turning down the offer to get paid to stay at home and instead fight for his money.

    Watch the video where Dana tells Big Nog he was getting the KO bonus recently. This is after Dana went on one of those “being honest” or “trashing a fighter” episodes about Big Nog maybe needing to retire. Everything looks fine between Big Nog and Dana still to me.

  38. Dave says:

    I feel like if you read this site enough, you read between the lines for an article like this and you look at what name that would usually account for around 30 – 50% of the comments does not appear on a topic like this and can make certain assumptions.

  39. insipid says:

    I think that more PPV events is a no brainer, especially as the UFC has only increased worldwide broadcasts in the last 2 years, which means greater exposure to emerging MMA markets where a PPV model isn’t viable, but where a broadcast model is profitable. The PPV dollars are in addition to dollars made from broadcast in non US countries. For every PPV that the UFC puts together, I’d bet that the production costs and fighter purses are covered before even 1 person buys the event in the US.

    Also, the UFC and DW would not have integrated 135 and 145 if they didn’t see long term money coming out of the very exciting fights in this division – not to mention it behooves the UFC to get into any aspect of MMA where money can be made, lest someone else like bellator does it in their place.

  40. Edward says:

    “The reason is simple — the American economy is still in the toilet and unemployment rates are at miserable levels.”

    The economy has virtually nothing to do with it. The economy was bad in 2009 and 2010.

    The PPV core purchasing base is probably around 250,000. Anything over that is made up of occasional buyers, new buyers, and the fans of particular fighters (Brock Lesnar’s WWE faithful and GSP’s Canadian followers, for the most part).

    Other than the core buyers, the UFC is not retaining first time or casual purchasers. Five fights for more than $50 is a bad enough deal, but when on the typical card at least one of those is a fight between either has-beens or never-wills, a lot of the buyers probably vow they won’t be fooled into paying again.

    There is quite a bit of free MMA on TV and the internet, including the UFC’s own product. Asking anyone to pay for it at least once a month is asking a lot. After a while, asking for anyone to pay for it at all will become almost impossible when what they’re paying for is indistinguishable from the free product.

  41. Guy says:

    Funny when an the author tell me what I like. Pro wrestling fans are not the mma fan base. The lighter classes are outstanding and if they can’t see the outstanding fights going on then what kind of fan r they. And fuck the author for being a candy ass. Grow some balls

  42. fd2 says:

    https://twitter.com/#!/SherdogRewind/status/128287251103887360
    “Meltzer: For UFC, 238K buys per PPV next year should be break-even mark. But that would be going from super profitable to breaking even.”

    If 238k buys per ppv is the break even mark, then not a single ppv this year has failed to make a profit.

    In case I hadn’t made it clear enough, calling the UFC’s ppv strategy an “unmitigated failure” is pure fantasy. Whoever wrote this piece, he’s an idiot.

  43. Zach Arnold says:

    Dave said:

    Well, he is alllll over EVERY OTHER POST on this site, yet nowhere to be found in this one……

    My policy for site commenters or anyone who I know in MMA circles online is that I attach their names to articles they write for us.

  44. [...] remember an article we posted last October from an industry source that said that they didn’t think Dana White would be the right man to [...]

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