By Zach Arnold | January 23, 2012
As I was looking to post information for UFC’s February fight cards, I noticed UFC’s web site went crashing down about an hour ago. Now we know why…
UFC.com was back up shortly after it was taken down, and UFC President Dana White responded to several Tweets about the hack with little concern, saying – among other things – “I’m in the fight biz not the website biz. Who gives a s***!?”
The group responsible for the hacks against UFC’s properties claims that it’s not Anonymous but has sympathies for the hacking group, the same group that has gone after US Government web sites, the RIAA, and other major backers of the hideous SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) & Protect IP pieces of legislation. Also, the US Government going after the web site MegaUpload and international authorities arresting the man the British tabloids label as ‘Dr Evil’ has set off a chain of hacks against those supporting heavy-handed anti-piracy legislation & tactics.
Dana White’s cavalier reaction to UFC fans about the web sites & Twitter accounts getting hacked has raised some eyebrows:
UFC attorney Larry Epstein fanned the flames on Sunday by coming out with a pro-SOPA op-ed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. We won’t blockquote any text from the article since the LVRJ & Stephens Media are in co-hoots with infamous copyright lawsuit troll firm Righthaven. No wonder the LVRJ published UFC’s pro-SOPA piece.
For Zuffa to not see the consequences coming for their boorish stance against Internet users is unfortunately not surprising given the ham-handedness of the company’s current Public Relations strategy. We first wrote about UFC’s love/hate relationship with the First Amendment on November 29th. Between this and overplaying their hand against ESPN on the fighter pay issue, it’s time for Zuffa HQ to rethink their current PR strategy. They are at risk of disconnecting their relationships with some of their biggest fans & supporters. It’s one thing for ESPN to argue about fighter pay because most fans aren’t that interested in the matter (yet). However, we’ve seen a serious & genuine backlash by Internet-savvy customers who are punishing any company that is backing SOPA & Protect IP. Just ask GoDaddy how that’s been working out for them.
For UFC, supporting SOPA & ProtectIP presents a genuine opportunity for them to feel a real financial backlash from fans who had been spending good money to buy PPVs. Now those individuals may channel their inner Anonymous and just find an online stream to watch instead.