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A lack of heat for Rampage Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin

By Zach Arnold | June 12, 2008

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Everything you need to know about the upcoming DREAM 4 card can be found right here. Jack Encarnacao has a great article on Jason “Mayhem” Miller and his philosophy in the fight business.

ESPN asks a big question today on their web site in regards to whether or not MMA will become an Olympic sport.

Todd Martin at CBS Sports argues that even following his most recent loss, Matt Hughes’ legacy remains rock solid. Todd also has a new article talking about the complete lack of heat for the upcoming Rampage Jackson/Forrest Griffin fight. This is a point that both Caleb and I emphasized on the latest edition of Fight Opinion Radio. On paper, it sounded like a sure-fire, can’t-miss idea. Instead, the execution has been totally flat.

Speaking of Caleb, here is some original reporting from him. As opposed to the ridiculous reporting circus about Dana White’s so-called big announcement. Enough already.

  1. USA Today: Can judo stars find success across the spectrum in MMA?
  2. 2TheAdvocate (Baton Rouge, LA): MMA is not grandpa’s boxing
  3. MMA California (Erin Bucknell): Matdaddy.com Grappling Tournament information
  4. MMA on Tap: The resurrection of Yves Edwards
  5. ADCC News: Bart Palaszewski talks Jeff Cox, Adrenaline show

Topics: Adrenaline, Affliction, DREAM, Media, MMA, Pro Elite, UFC, Zach Arnold | 20 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

20 Responses to “A lack of heat for Rampage Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin”

  1. The Gaijin says:

    The whole lack of heat for Rampage-Forrest goes back to their absolute lack of ability or desire to market Rampage as their champ from the get go.

    Everyone called me a “hater” for saying they were doing a terrible job and said they obviously care about him b/c he’s a TUF coach. Well look how that’s worked…using a tired concept as the one of the sole means of promoting your champion and face of your top division is stupid. If the belt was back on Liddell you know he’d be getting pushed to the moon and back – guess it pays to be one of Dana’s drinking buddies.

  2. Matt McEwen says:

    I’ll agree partially that they haven’t put as much marketing behind Rampage as they should have, but I don’t think comparing that to what they would/could do with Liddell is fair. To use yet another wrestling analogy, it’s like saying they didn’t push the Ultimate Warrior as much as they did Hulk Hogan.

    By which I mean that Liddell is the biggest star in MMA, was the face of the sport when it blew up, and it’s hard to duplicate that.

    THat being said, I don’t understand why they don’t utilize Rampage more, even just to market him to the core crowd. Why not have him do some commentary during a PPV? Why have him coach on TUF in a season that has the smallest amount of coaching involvment yet?

    In the end though, I still really want to see that fight. I got the feeling they didn’t like each other when they hyped the show at the last Fight Night – and i haven’t watched last nights show yet – so I assume something has gotta happen to piss them off more.

  3. Rob Poole says:

    I don’t know if I agree that UFC doesn’t want to push Rampage or if it’s more of a case that they’re more comfortable with Liddell because he’s more controllable.

    Rampage is going to EliteXC shows and wearing Affliction shirts on nationally televised interviews. I’m sure Dana White’s less than thrilled with that.

    As far as TUF, that show has peaked and pretty much seems like the same deal every year.

    The problem with the show is the point of it was to be guys fighting for a contract, yet White employs everyone on the shows and like the last UFC PPV, thinks he can market all of those guys as some sort of UFC headliners.

    Only Forrest Griffin has warranted such attention. The next level of “stars” from that show: Koscheck, Leben, Evans, Bisping, Bonnar, etc are nowhere near main event caliber and most people would agree that they don’t pay to watch them.

    This to me is Dana White thinking he can create all of his own stars and refusing to pay top level guys what they are worth.

    If Affliction truly is capable of bank rolling some big name stars in all divisions (not just the Heavyweight division) UFC could see themselves in serious trouble because you can’t push guys like Marquardt or Swick as PPV stars.

  4. The Gaijin says:

    Well I shouldn’t make it sound like the don’t WANT to push Rampage. It’s obviously in their best interests to create marketable stars. I think you’re right in that they’re more comfortable pushing someone like Liddell, but it just seems like they don’t have the confidence to push Rampage in case he loses in the future. It’s probably also a function of knowing certain guys are “loyal company men” who won’t hold out once they’ve become stars and look for bigger paydays.

    Frankly it seems like they really walk ass-backwards into making stars with the surprise success of TUF and Tito’s ability to draw. And they were also able to give Liddell the “Goldberg”-push where he destroyed a pretty weak crop of contenders and rode the tide in mma’s rising popularity. The only new “star” they seem to have in terms of definite drawing power is Brock Lesnar and I think it’s pretty obvious it has very little to do with UFC’s marketing ability.

  5. Rollo the Cat says:

    Does anyone think the UFC hasn’t pushed Griffin? Of course they have. Yet, Griffin is involved in a title fight in a few weeks and there doesn’t seem to be much heat. What could it be?

    I disagree there isn’t much heat for this, simply because the build up hasn’t really started. We have had several events in the past month and a TUF finale coming in between now and the title fight. The build up for this is going to be short because it has to be.

  6. The Gaijin says:

    I should add that it looks like Roger Huerta is going to be a star as well and they’re trying their damndest to push him to the top.

    As for Forrest, I think you’re right Rollo. They have done some good things in pushing him, but I wonder how many people are skeptical based on his KO loss to Jardine or others who still might not “buy” him as a top guy quite yet. He certainly solidified his position with the hardcore fanbase who know what a big win it was for him over Shogun, but maybe that hasn’t resonated as strongly with the casual crowd(?).

    I guess we’ll have to take the wait and see approach b/c we’re still 3+ weeks out from the event and maybe steam will pick up on this one. One consideration could also be that the rest of this card is pretty pitiful and there’s really NOTHING else on the ticket that looks exciting.

  7. The Gaijin says:

    One has to wonder if this event doesn’t sell well and Rampage retains that Dana might pre-emptively pull the trigger on Rampage-Silva III and then transition the winner into a rematch with Liddell.

    Given the reactions Silva has been getting and his guaranteed highlight reel fights that this would create two sure fire selling fights no matter who wins and they might be getting antsy if PPV buys start stagnating.

  8. zack says:

    The fight just isn’t compelling, IMO. The only thing that makes it interesting is that the winner will have true claim as the 205 linear champ of Pride/UFC.

    UFC’s goes:

    Frank Shamrock (retired) > Tito > Randy > Belfort > Randy > Chuck > Rampage

    Pride’s goes: Wand > Arona > Shogun > Forrest

    So the winner of this fight will be the true 205 linear champ of the world, and will make that title a lot more prestigious.

    That said…Rampage by TKO in the 2nd.

  9. Chris says:

    The UFC marketing machine is a powerful tool when they decide to use it. It’s the same marketing machine that had people believe that Royce Gracie had a chance of beating Matt Hughes. Or that Ken Shamrock had a shot of winning his two rematches with Tito Ortiz.

    If the UFC wanted to market and push Rampage properly, they had their shot. Instead they chose to push the hell out of the ex-champion, who was knocked out by Rampage in the first round. Now they are going to pay the price in terms of PPV buys.

  10. Kev says:

    Ok: Gaijin, Chris, etc., name the various ways Rampage is not being pushed.

    I’m getting sick of the idea that Rampage is not getting pushed being repeated like a mantra when no one has ever presented a shred of evidence that it’s not happening.

  11. Rollo the Cat says:

    “One consideration could also be that the rest of this card is pretty pitiful and there‚Äôs really NOTHING else on the ticket that looks exciting.”

    My fascination with the prelims continues. What worries me about the undercard isn’t the lack of talent, but the match ups. Aurelio v Tyson for instance. Aurelio can’t take him down. Will Griffin lay and pray? Will it become a stand and stare fight? It is hard to figure.

    Kos and Lytle? Good fighters both but put them together and we have boring fight potential. Gonzaga v McCully has KO possibilities I suppose.

  12. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    I have no idea on any of the fights on the card (as usual, but maybe moreso).

    Rampage probably should be Forrest, but who the fuck knows? Honestly? I think Forrest is probably capable of more than we’ve ever seen, he’s got a lot of upside, and Rampage is probably the same way.

    This could be a round one knockout, or it could be a long drawn out barnburner, it could end in a submission, it could end in a five round split decision…

    Looking at the records, I don’t even know what SHOULD happen.

  13. Rollo the Cat says:

    I have to agree with Kev. People were complaining about Rampage not being pushed before he even got here. He is on TUF, which like it or not, is still the single best tool to market a fighter in the UFC.

    Seems to me that Rampage has gotten a bigger push than GSP or BJ Penn. You can only do so much with to promote a fighter whether it is Greg Gagne or the Rock.

  14. The Gaijin says:

    Shouldn’t you have to show us how he *IS* being promoted [outside of the “classic” TUF push] rather than us show you evidence of nothing?

    It’s kind of hard to show proof of something that doesn’t exist…*evidence*, there.

  15. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    I’d say it’s about the same as GSP, with the caveat that GSP already had a bigger name with the majority of the UFC fanbase because he’d fought more fights in UFC before becoming champion and appearing on TUF than Rampage did.

  16. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    I’d say that of the “big 5” Pride guys who came over to UFC, the one who is getting the biggest push is Wanderlei.

    Mirko would have gotten it, but he apparently can’t fight his way out of a paper bag anymore.

  17. Kev says:

    Gaijin, you’re the one who is presenting a hypothesis with no backup. If anything, you’re the one who needs to show proof. Don’t complain about having to “prove a negative”, you know you’re being intellectually lazy if you care to admit it or not.

    In this case, it’s easy to show how he isn’t being pushed: Find someone who is and compare…and no generalizations, I want specific efforts that the UFC took to promote Liddell. And note just because a UFC fighter is out in the limelight, it doesn’t mean Zuffa was responsible. Case in point: It definitely wasn’t Dana White who pushed Liddell onto morning TV to shill for 300 while he was still on a bender.

  18. IceMuncher says:

    I saw Rampage on the Jimmy Kimmel show. My dad called me and told me he was on, so obviously they’re trying to put him out there. The problem is that you can’t force the media to promote a fighter they’re not interested in.

    Liddell was getting massive publicity because he was the biggest name in the sport, and the UFC was just starting to get noticed by mainstream media. The major media outlets interviewed him because they *wanted* to interview him.

    Rampage is not the star Liddell was, and getting somebody like ESPN to do a major segment about his fight is out of the UFC’s hands. Believe me, if they could, the UFC would have every champion on ESPN, The Tonight Show and the like, all the freaking time. The best they can do is promote him on their own show, which they did: it’s called TUF.

  19. The Gaijin says:

    Biggest star loses to his “biggest challenger” to date on the “biggest UFC show ever”.

    All this coverage on UFC’s biggest event and Chuck Liddell did and still is getting the biggest rub off the event. He was on Letterman right after – it’s ridiculous to assert that they couldn’t have said, “the champion/winner of the fight” gets the interview in order to further their standing and be the face of UFC. Instead they shoved Chuck out there.

    Chuck was on Entourage, appeared using the UFC name and in a UFC octagon. I’m sure the UFC had NOTHING to do with finding him a spot on the show.

    MMA/UFC was/is the hottest new sport going, you can’t tell me that they have zero pull as to whom they put out there as a representative to the media etc.

    The fact that they still ensure Liddell is a household name but do next to nothing to make sure Rampage gets the same exposure speaks volumes to me.

  20. Kev says:

    Of course the UFC had everything to do with Chuck on Entourage. I said not everything was set up by the UFC, I didn’t say the UFC did nothing at all. Stop being disingenuous.

    But here, let me go ahead and actually put some effort into looking into what media presence Liddell and Rampage actually had since 2007 that could have come from UFC’s efforts. This is what I got for their media appearances from searching IMDB, youtube, and Google:

    Liddell:
    – Blade
    – Entourage
    – ESPN the Magazine cover
    – Best Damn Sports Show
    – Inked
    – Tapout w/ Antonio Banuelos
    – Punk’d
    – Letterman
    – Conan
    – Sports Unfiltered with Dennis Miller
    – Ultimate Iceman DVD/Liddell vs. Silva documentary on UFC Unleashed
    – Autobiography

    Rampage:
    – Kimmel
    – Spike TV feature on Rampage at Camp Pendleton
    – E3 to announce UFC game
    – OC Weekly cover
    – Best Damn Sports Show
    – National Geographic Sport Science
    – TUF 7
    – Midnight Meat Train (upcoming Clive Barker flick)
    – ESPN First Take

    Do you really want to say the UFC did next to nothing to promote Rampage? Do you really think being a coach on TUF is next to nothing? By my cursory and incomplete count, Rampage got 25% less love from the UFC than Liddell, which is still considerable and nowhere near next to nothing.

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