By Zach Arnold | April 3, 2013
Video courtesy of Fighters Only
“It’s our job, we have a lot of fighters on the card. No one fighter is bigger than a UFC event. And so it’s important for us then to work really hard to find a replacement.”
Meet Garry Cook, the new front man the UFC hired for European operations. He’s formerly of Manchester City FC. When you have a delicate situation on your hands like the cancellation of Alexander Gustafsson from the main event of UFC Sweden 2013, the fans are going to be very upset in Stockholm. It’s largely a one-fight show to the masses and that fight just got canceled.
So, when you talk to the media about the fight cancellation, there’s an important adage to follow: know your audience. When you speak to the press, you’re speaking to intermediaries who then communicate your message to the fans.
Which means you probably don’t want to communicate a message as tone-deaf as this.
“We looked at every option. I’ll be very clear. We always look at all the options. The guys are great at that. It goes everything from should we cancel the whole event, should we move the date, and of course none of that makes any sense. What we really wanted to do was meet Mousasi’s needs and what he wanted to do was fight. So, then it was case of, you know, who’s best suited. Lorenzo Ferttita, I think, made one of the greatest statements when I said to him, ‘What do you think?’ and he said, ‘Hey, great, another Swede.’ ”
I thought Garry did an OK job answer the press questions but it felt like he was missing the most important aspect of communicating news like this and that was what the paying fans think about how the situation is handled and what can be done for the fans. Replacing Gustafsson with a sparing partner doesn’t cut it.
Dana White’s message to writer Michael David Smith doesn’t cut it, either: “shut up dickhead this fight isn’t costing u a dime.”. Perhaps this new article appropriately sums up what is happening now: UFC fans slowly but surely learning to tune out president Dana White.
The video itself is interesting because there’s some insider baseball chatter about how 96% of UFC’s programming in Europe airs after 2 AM and how Zuffa wants new television deals in Europe where there is ‘magazine programming in prime time’ to grow the audience base there. It seems that no matter how much money UFC pours into Europe, they take one step forward and then two steps backwards.