By Zach Arnold | December 17, 2016
Saturday’s UFC event at the Golden-1 Center in Sacramento put a lot of egg on the faces of management.
The marketing and hype packages by Foxified TV consultants in conjunction with WME certainly felt different than the Lorenzo Fertitta-era UFC. UFC went all-in on Paige VanZant. They treated viewers as children by hyping VanZant for going to multiple high schools and filming a Bissell commercial at age 13. There was the nauseating Erin Andrews interview spot. Fox Sports 1 spent the whole week focusing on VanZant, including PVZ not wanting to fight in front of her mother because she bled during fights. And right on cue, Fox aired a 4G LTE commercial with Paige VanZant after VanZant’s fight ended.
The problem, of course, is that VanZant got choked out and destroyed by Michelle Waterson. It was an adult vs. a child in the cage. Waterson was in the main event and you wouldn’t have known it until fight night. Someone from production was barking at Waterson to hurry her ring walk by giving second-by-second instructions. She was viewed as the B-side of the main event by the powers-that-be. Of course they would treat Michelle Waterson like that.
The bloodletting continued with Sage Northcutt getting worked over by CM Punk slayer Mickey Gall. Fox hyped Northcutt as being discovered by Dana White on his Fight Pass show looking for a fighter. The prodigal son got beat up. It’s a good thing the focus was on Dana discovering this young man. Too bad Dana wasn’t actually there on camera to watch the festivities.
Dana White and Joe Rogan were nowhere to be found for Urijah Faber’s retirement fight. It’s entirely valid to point out that Faber was not a Dana creation and became his own star outside of the UFC universe. Even by that measure, White not showing up on camera to pay respects to Faber sent a rather interesting message to the fans at home. Faber was the clear cut star on this show along with Nick Diaz getting his ringside cameo.
Faber had a chance to submit Brad Pickett in round one of their fight but couldn’t pull it off. I joked that Skip Bayless would give a hot take on Fox saying that WEC Faber would have finished the fight but that UFC Faber just didn’t have the clutch gene to do it. An hour later, Fox was airing a Skip Bayless hot take skeptical of Ronda Rousey having success upon her return in two weeks to fight Amanda Nunes. It was the basest of Jamie Horowitz plays and to the average viewer came across as a copy of the horrible Monday Night Football half-time First Take shoutfest between Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman.
UFC barely acknowledged Fabricio Werdum (recently punished for comments) vs. Cain Velasquez (now associated with Bjorn Rebney’s association) coming up in two weeks.
And to cap off the WME Foxified TV consultant crapfest, UFC went into promo mode with a one-sided insult fest between Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt. Another man vs. child scenario, this time on the microphone.
Speaking of childish, California State Athletic Commission main athletic inspector and Andy Foster point man Mark Relyea was in his camera-hogging glory by getting in on the TV shots before and after the Urijah Faber fight. Nobody is a bigger mark for Mark than Mark himself.
If this is what the WME era of UFC on Fox is going to be, the folks at Viacom should be very, very happy with their growing position.