By Zach Arnold | August 30, 2014
On episode 4 of UFC 177 Embedded, the cursed fight card becomes a Cinderella story as the main event changes on weigh-in day. Title challenger and former champ Renan Barao bows out for medical reasons, creating a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Joe Soto, a former belt-holder in other organizations about to make his UFC debut on the prelim card, until he got the call that would change his life. TJ Dillashaw proves he’s a company man and true champion willing to fight anyone, anytime by accepting a new challenger on one day’s notice. UFC President Dana White lambastes the negative media and implores his fighters to seize the opportunity to prove all the doubters wrong. UFC Embedded is an all-access, behind-the-scenes video blog series focusing on the days leading up to the UFC 177 bantamweight title fight, Saturday, August 30th on Pay-Per-View.
The polish is off the turd.
There was Dana White trying to pump up the fighters on one of the company’s most horrific fight cards ever by using a pedantic “blame the media” strategy. The media says the show sucks. The media is dumping all over you. You mean nothing. It was classic coach spin. It came off pathetic from a guy who was trying to tell the press earlier this week that he wasn’t bothered by the negative mention in GQ Magazine in regards to how (little) he pays his fighters.
And then came Saturday night during the preliminary fights on Fox Sports 1. An all-time meltdown from Dana White with Ariel Helwani under the tag line “Is UFC 177 cursed?” Dana ripped into the GQ mention days after claiming it never bothered him. He ripped into Dave Meltzer for claiming that the Sacramento gate would be $500,000. That turned out to be an old report. Dana ripped “journalists” for telling fans not to buy UFC 177 and for dumping on the fighters. The fact that this even aired on Fox Sports 1 to promote a PPV was amazing. The funny and predictable part is that the anti-Meltzer backlash amongst hardcore UFC fans started right away on Twitter after the “War Dana!” moment on cable television.
The ticket sales for Sacramento? The UFC was slashing $90 tickets at $65 on Groupon. This wasn’t a state secret. Dana White trumpeting the fact that only a 100 fans asked for a refund after the canceled main event was something you had to see to believe.
“We always deliver. We always deliver in Sacramento. What a killer fight town…”
The announced attendance was 11,100 for a $700,000 gate.
Rather than taking responsibility for everything they have done to burn California MMA fans over the last two months, the UFC decided to make Renan Barao their whipping boy on Saturday night.
Barao looking like he just got called to the principal's office pic.twitter.com/2Ft37vnQXH
— Chris Nelson (@3ammma) August 31, 2014
There was Joe Rogan telling Barao that him pulling out of the main event was embarrassing not only for Barao but for the UFC. A public shaming. Little concern shown about the guy’s health but a lot of anger at his lack of professionalism. It was done under the cover of the dangers of weight cutting. If UFC wants that public debate, let’s have it. Weight cutting has been dangerous in the modern UFC era and it turns out that adding the extra Featherweight, Bantamweight, and Flyweight classes has only contributed to exacerbating the health & safety problems. But that’s another debate for another day.
"No one’s ever been hurt from weight cutting" says Dana White – ignores deaths outside UFC.
— Trent Reinsmith (@TrentReinsmith) August 31, 2014
Capping off the absurdity of UFC 177 was UFC giving away Harley Davidson bikes to fighters who contractually aren’t allowed to ride them while fighting under the Zuffa banner. There was Anthony Pettis mentioning Bellator on TV, too.
As the UFC goes head-to-head next Friday against Bellator in Connecticut, it’s important to reassess the carnage that Zuffa has left behind in California. It’s a dramatic picture of the needless damage being done right now.
Go back to last April. Andy Foster, a guy the UFC thinks of highly, suddenly interviews for the Executive Director job opening in Nevada. He bombed the interview. The UFC gifts Andy three Summer events in a time span of 60 days — a Fox broadcast show at San Jose Arena, a Staples Center PPV fight, and a PPV fight at Arco Arena in Sacramento. Theoretically, three TV tax checks amounting to anywhere from $75,000 to $105,000 in CSAC’s coffers.
Then came the torrential downpour of bad judgment.
UFC booked a card for San Jose that had no local appeal and no A-level star power. Your main event was Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown. Great fight involving main card support guys, not main card event guys in terms of star power. It drew a $735,000 gate in San Jose.
Then came the debacle at the Staples Center. Chad Mendes vs. Jose Aldo as a main event. What a disaster. I wouldn’t call it a legitimate main event in terms of star power anywhere other than the Sacramento market and even then that would have been a stretch. Predictably, reports leaked that the gate advance was sucking wind at Staples. Jose Aldo ends up pulling out of the fight due to injury and UFC “postpones” the fight… for Brazil. An August 2nd PPV canceled. Nobody is happy.
Which leads us to the August 30th PPV fight in Sacramento at Arco Arena. With Urijah Faber fighting on cable television for the UFC 175 prelims in Las Vegas (the Ronda Rousey/Chris Weidman card), he was not available for Sacramento. No Joe Benavidez, either. Which left UFC scrambling to book something, anything. After canceling the Los Angeles PPV fight, they couldn’t cancel a second PPV in the same month. Well, they could, but they didn’t want to because of the financial cost.
@laralec STFU dork, who asked u to buy it? Did I ask u to buy tonight's card? U don't want to watch fights tonight then rent The Notebook
— Dana White (@danawhite) August 31, 2014
So they booked TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao in a Bantamweight title re-match with Demetrious Johnson fighting Chris Cariaso for the Flyweight title. All hell breaks loose with Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier getting pushed until January, so DJ/Cariaso gets moved to the September card in Las Vegas. Which left an already impossibly thin card even thinner in Sacramento. Leading to Dana White ripping Dave Meltzer about an old report of UFC 177 drawing a $500,000 gate when it is more like $700,000.
A $700,000 gate in San Jose. A canceled PPV fight in Staples that reportedly was not selling well. And a $700,000 gate at Arco Arena in Sacramento. This is not a California problem. This is a UFC problem. What this organization has done to burn fight fans in the state over the last two months is completely inexcusable. The response from UFC has been incredibly tone deaf and defiant. The crazy Uncle Dana routine was celebrated when he was winning but Americans don’t like losers and right now the guy is self-destructing before our eyes. Needlessly so, too.
UFC 177 main card event results:
- Yancy Medeiros defeated Damon Jackson in R2 in 1′54 by submission from a choke.
- Carlos Diego Ferreira defeated Ramsey Nijem in R2 in 1′53 by TKO.
- Bethe Correia defeated Shayna Baszler in R2 in 1′56 by TKO.
- Tony Ferguson defeated Danny Castilo after 3R by split decision.
- UFC Bantamweight title match: TJ Dillashaw defeated Joe Soto in R5 in 2′20 by KO.