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« | Home | »

UFC 73: Where’s the hype train?

By Adam Morgan | July 5, 2007

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By Adam Morgan

Does the UFC know what it’s doing? I know they’ve got a monopoly on the sport and they’re “expanding into international markets,” “breaking into the mainstream,” and every other cliché you could possibly think of for making it big.

But how big are they? Since UFC 71, there has been little to no buzz surrounding the UFC or any of their events. There was no buzz here in the U.S. for UFC 72. That card didn’t deserve buzz because it was really awful with the exception of one fight. On paper it was bad, in reality it was worse. I can deal with there being no marketing for that event, no hype.

UFC 73, however, is another story. On paper, we have the most talent filled card of the year. Two titles, the lightweight and the middleweight, will be on the line. A contender matchup between Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans, a fight that could mean so much to each of their careers. The debut of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the UFC. The undercard fights alone on this card could make up an entire Ultimate Fight Night card.

All this talent and no hype whatsoever. You haven’t seen Sean Sherk, Hermes Franca, Anderson Silva, or Nate Marquardt on the cover of any magazines this week. You haven’t heard anybody on PTI or Around The Horn talking about UFC this week. You haven’t heard jack.

Why?

I don’t have the answer. I guess it’s hard to market Nate Marquardt, who can be considered boring by some. It’s also hard to market Anderson Silva, an unbelievably exciting fighter, who doesn’t speak any english. It’s also hard to market Nogueira when you have provided him with no push. In fact, it’s hard to market any of these guys when you give them no push.

I also have to wonder if the UFC is too busy trying to expand internationally to care about pushing their U.S. cards. This wouldn’t make much sense, but then again, neither do a lot of the things that UFC chooses to do. Just a thought.

On the recent UFC 73 Countdown on Spike TV, Joe Rogan claimed that it’s going to be crazy in Sacramento. How crazy can it be when reports are that the place isn’t even going to be sold out? How does this happen? The best card of the year, possibly ever in MMA, and the place isn’t a sell out?

How do you let this happen? This card is better, top to bottom, than UFC 71 could ever have thought about being. We haven’t seen 1/4 of the marketing that UFC 71 received. Why? Lacking star power?

Whose fault is that?

When you only push a handful of guys, you have a card like UFC 73 that is very appealing to hardcore fans, but very disinteresting to the casual fan. This is an obstacle the UFC needs to overcome.

They have to convince every fan to buy every pay-per-view, and not just the ones with the UFC made superstars or else it will always be a niche sport, never mainstream.

Topics: Adam Morgan, Media, MMA, UFC | 31 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

31 Responses to “UFC 73: Where’s the hype train?”

  1. Zurich says:

    The card is ok.. but really, it’s not _that_ good.

  2. MMA Fan says:

    its hard to create a buzz when the promoter is to busy disrespecting the main eventer in all his media interviews.

  3. Adam Morgan says:

    Will Evans/Ortiz be after the title fights? If so, that’s a shame.

  4. Kev says:

    UFC 71 was special. It was Chuck Liddell, the biggest MMA star in the country, what seemed like his weakest moment. (and it was.) There won’t be a fight as big as that for another year, at least. That’s why there was so much coverage, thats why ESPN didn’t jump on the bandwagon back at UFC 66.

    Now, you must realize that with real sports, you’re dealing with real news media. You don’t just push a fighter onto PTI. This isn’t wrestling. UFC marketing has its own credibility to look after, it cannot just push whoever it wants and expects the news media to play along. After Liddell got the baddest-man-on-the-planet push and getting toppled in 90 secs, you think the news media is going to hop-to-step when the UFC turns around and tries the same push on Big Nog (or any other fighter)? If it tried, the UFC sets its own PR efforts back a year.

    They have to convince every fan to buy every pay-per-view, and not just the ones with the UFC made superstars or else it will always be a niche sport, never mainstream.

    No they don’t.

  5. UFCDaily.com says:

    From an authors perspective there is just very little going on around this event to even talk about. I mean, aside from make predictions and hyping the event there the net is pretty much void of news. Prior to UFC 71 there were tons of storylines to track but its just not happening for this event.

    To me, the feud with Tito and Rashad happened too early and by now it’s old news. I think there may have been a bigger buzz around this fight at UFC 69 when Tito and Rashad got into it more than there is now. If the fights produce then there is nothing to really worry about but so far this event is underperforming in the Buzz Dept. I don’t know if it’s the UFC’s fault that there isn’t more mainstream press or things to talk about but this entire week has been slooooow for MMA/UFC news.

  6. Zach Arnold says:

    They ran a PPV three weeks ago and a live TV special two weeks ago. Too much content.

  7. Body_Shots says:

    There are so many obvious reasons why you can’t compare UFC 71 to any other PPV in North American MMA history, let alone UFC 73.

    To expect fighters to grace SI & ESPN the magazine every time a UFC ppv rolls around is well past ridiculous.

    The type of coverage they’re getting for this event is the usual, NFL week 9 isn’t going to get the same hype as the Superbowl.

  8. D. Capitated says:

    They ran a PPV three weeks ago and a live TV special two weeks ago. Too much content.

    Boxing was running every Saturday on network TV with closed circuit roughly every month-6 weeks in its heyday. As someone else said, they can’t force guys to be stars: The audience decides that on their own. Besides, you love the pro wrestling comparisons, and there’s far more WWE content than UFC content, even going back to the days of syndication, and that never destroyed the buyrates of their big shows.

    UFC should honestly be running a weekly fight show and not doing reality TV anymore, but that’s my opinion, and I’m sure lots of people would be upset about the lack of manufactured drama.

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    Once again, trying to create a story where there is none.

    The hype to the casual fan is no different then any other event. They watch the countdown show, thy watch the PPV. They have a good time. The PPV Buy Rates will be solid.

  10. Jonathan says:

    I do not know about much of the hype, but putting the card on perhaps the biggest wedding day in history might not have been the smartest move. For those who do not know what I am talking, 7/7/7 (July 7th, 2007), is considered the perfect date to get married on because 777 is the perfect number in Christian theology. I am guessing that more people will get married on that date then most usually would on a Saturday. That being said, weddings dig up a ALOT of people…I know my sister’s is having at least 120 people come, if not more. I guess all I am saying is that if I were them, I would have pushed this show back an extra week when the original plan started.

    AS for me, I will *cough* download *cough* fight *cough* *cough* internet *cough*

  11. 45 Huddle says:

    Too cheap to spend $40 for a PPV? That’s so nice of you.

    Let’s be honest….. The gate is more important then attendance. As long as the crowd isn’t tiny, the UFC would be much happier with a $2 Million gate then the words “sold out”.

    And this card overall isn’t costing the UFC a lot. Tito Ortiz has a PPV Revenues contract. I don’t think any of the other fighters do. Silva gets like $100,000 for a win. Sherk doesn’t get too much. I’m sure their is money on the side for being champions, but purely for the purse, this isn’t going to be a huge payout event. The next UFC with GSP & Couture will have a much higher payout.

    As for the wedding thing…. I don’t think it is going to hurt them that much…. People who want to watch it will still find a way. This event will still get 300,000+ PPV buys. Which is fantastic for an event without the names Liddell, Hughes, Penn, or Couture. Those are the big 4 money men in the UFC. Anything else, automatically has lesser buy rates. And when I say lesser, I mean still 10 times better then the competition, but over 300,000+.

  12. 45 Huddle says:

    And to back up my theory on the wedding thing…. I have been the idiot in the past who said that having a PPV the day before the Superbowl would hurt numbers. Or that having it during the holiday season (Liddell vs. Ortiz 2) would cripple numbers. And guess what? People still found a way to purchase the events. If the card is good, people will watch.

  13. D.Capitated says:

    I can’t imagine that most people are going to be so busy with weddings that it will be impossible for them to find a place at 10PM to watch the bouts. At least there’s a couple pretty decent drawing names on the card in really good fights, unlike, say UFC 72. Rich Franklin had a tough time drawing period.

  14. Grape Knee High says:

    “The best card of the year, possibly ever in MMA….”

    Is this kind of ridiculous hyperbole really necessary?

  15. Jason Gatties says:

    As far as “magazine covers” go, trust me, SI and ESPN didn’t take a Zuffa “bribe” to get cover stories, that was a decision of the magazines, so Zuffa has no control over that.

    As far as Dana (and Tito as well, he has thrown out plenty of insults incase you were sleeping for the past few months) dissing Tito, hell, that sells. Dana saying he loves Tito will not sell a ticket, Dana hating Tito will. If Dana really hated Tito all that much, he’d be fighting Nickles on the under card.

  16. D.Capitated says:

    BTW, there’s no way in hell Evans/Ortiz goes last. Shamrock/Ortiz II didn’t and it was clearly the draw of that card. It won’t do it with two title fights. It may go between them though as the feature attraction.

  17. Jonathan says:

    I see that other people were up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning when I was making postson everyone’s favorite MMA/Chris Benoit news site, FightOpinion.com

    I am not sure how big of a role weddings will play, but all I was saying is that back when they were planning this card, they could have moved it back a week and then they would have had the whole market sans any potential wedding losers

    And being a poor college student, there is no way in hell I’m paying to watch the card. Either I am going to Buffalo Wild Wings with a group of guys or I am sitting at home streaming the PPV…that is just the reality that I live in. I do not think that that makes me a “nice” or “not nice” person.

  18. Adam Morgan says:

    Is this kind of ridiculous hyperbole really necessary?

    Is it not true?

  19. D.Capitated says:

    Is it not true?

    Its the best UFC since around 52, I guess. The best MMA event ever? That covers a lot of ground.

  20. mjc_123 says:

    In the U.K this card is getting pushed harder than any other before on Bravo which sows the PPV’s for free on the Sunday evening and then repeats them again in their entireity on the Monday.

    Lots of adverts and every night from 10 on Bravo 2 Ultimate Fight Nights, coupled with tons of ads for UFC 73.

    Still hardly mainstream UK media as Bravo is a very minor channel on Satelite but still something. My guess is next big media-explosion will be for UFC 75 in London purely becaue one again it is abroad and secondly as it will easily sell 15,000 seats and features the LHW clash and the return of Mirko.

  21. Mr. Phelps says:

    Zuffa can’t keep the hype at a fever pitch. It’s not good for the long term. With so many shows, this one will be profitable with the hardcore fans and some of the tuffers – without Liddell or Couture’s larger purposes the hype isn’t necessary.
    If they are trying to make the profit a multiple of the expenses this show will do better than most shows.

  22. D.Capitated says:

    Zuffa can’t keep the hype at a fever pitch. It’s not good for the long term.

    How would they ever? They can’t have Liddell, Couture, or Hughes fight on every card.

    If they are trying to make the profit a multiple of the expenses this show will do better than most shows.

    Ya think?

  23. The Citizen says:

    I’m really sick of hearing that “you can’t market this guy.” Marketers can market whoever their bosses tell them to market when they are given the dollars and the go ahead to do it. Yes there is a difference between marketing someone like young Ken Shamrock and Nathan Marq, but the truth is marketers server a higher power, and if given proper direction will be able to shine poop into gold. This is a solid card and am looking forward to the show. I’m rooting for Rashad.

  24. Grape Knee High says:

    “Is it not true?”

    Possibly best ever MMA card? Are you seriously asking this question?

  25. Adam Morgan says:

    Grape,

    I didn’t say it was the best MMA card ever. I said it was possible, which means it’s up for argument. There are plenty of people who seem to think that’s the case.

    -Adam

  26. MickDawg says:

    This is no doubt a very stacked card by UFC standards.

    Millions of fans did not start watching UFC until The Ultimate Fighter reality show.

    For these millions of fans…this card is definitely the best UFC card they’ve seen.

    The UFC does not acknowledge other MMA events. And for the casual fan, they barely know of earlier UFC events, let alone Pride shows.

    So when the UFC says “This is the best card ever”, for millions of new fans out there, this is absolutely the case.

    I’ve been a fan since UFC 1, and even I believe the hype that this is the best UFC card ever. No UFC card sticks in my mind as better (on paper) than this one.

  27. D.Capitated says:

    I’m really sick of hearing that “you can’t market this guy.” Marketers can market whoever their bosses tell them to market when they are given the dollars and the go ahead to do it. Yes there is a difference between marketing someone like young Ken Shamrock and Nathan Marq, but the truth is marketers server a higher power, and if given proper direction will be able to shine poop into gold. This is a solid card and am looking forward to the show. I’m rooting for Rashad.

    You can spend all the money you want and that won’t make it pay dividends if what you’re trying to sell is disinteresting to the customer. Ask Pepsi and Coke about that sometime. Nathan Marqhardt is not a terribly exciting figher. You can’t market him as such. Nor would you realistically be able to with Yushin Okami or Jake Shields at the same weight class, all of whom are good, but not necessarily thrilling to watch.

  28. Dru Down says:

    “I didn’t say it was the best MMA card ever. I said it was possible, which means it’s up for argument. There are plenty of people who seem to think that’s the case.”

    A wise man once told me, “Everyone has an opinion, but they aren’t all good opinions.”

    I could say that UFC 72 was “possibly” the best card ever, but that doesn’t instantly make my point valid- it makes me look like a tool.

  29. The Citizen says:

    Marketing is a farce best appreciated by drooling zombies. You can market everything and everything. Take a look at the Tuf Shows. Average fighters made into above average fighters because they have their own TV show. I will state it again — there is a difference between who you market — but there have been plenty of movies, live events, and concerts that are marketed and have no value whatsover in the long run. Ask Paul Heyman about marketing those who are not marketable and you will find that everyone in some capacity has attributes which are appealing. The UFC refuses to find and exploit these attributes in their fighters. They stick to the same marketing for all their fighters and events. Same intro, same on screen graphics, same color palate, etc. I can take a rock and market Nathan Mar-Q versus Pebble and make it exciting.

  30. D. Capitated says:

    And? Nathan Marqhardt is a boring ass fighter with a boring personality. You can’t market that. You point to TUF, but god knows no one gives a fuck about TUF’s season 2 or 4, because they were utterly boring. No one wants to see Travis Lutter. You can dress him up however you want, but the idea that people will always buy shit is dumb. If that was true, every boxing PPV for the last 15 years would have done 1,000,000 buys and TNA would be wildly successful. You still need engaging product, no matter how much ad time you buy.

  31. Adam Morgan says:

    I appreciate your comments.

    So what, then, in everyone’s opinion, is the best card ever in MMA?

    I’m not talking about the event itself, but just the fights on paper, top to bottom.

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