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Quote of the day – skepticism about UFC

By Zach Arnold | July 13, 2009

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Skip Bayless from ESPN:

Still have suspicions about UFC, and Brock Lesnar only added to ’em. Went straight wrestling villain. Felt staged. Proceed at own risk.

This is the other edge of the dual-edged sword in terms of having Lesnar as the face of your company and as the face of MMA. And I’m not talking about that tattoo on his chest, either.

Ray Ratto on CBS Sports:

In other words, Lesnar knew what he was doing, and thought this would take the UFC over the top, as though beating the viscera out of people laying on their backs isn’t over the top enough.

White, though, is playing for bigger stakes, and that includes a bigger piece of the mainstream market.

And as it turns out, they’re both right, and therefore both wrong.

MMA has found its niche, and UFC 100 was the top end of that. It was as big a card as could be constructed, and White had months to make it right. By most analyses by MMA fans, he did. For those who aren’t MMA fans, it doesn’t matter.

Kevin Blackistone at AOL Fanhouse:

“I was so jacked up [because] I’m used to selling pay-per-view tickets,” Lesnar, who was a professional wrestler on the WWE circuit until a few years ago, told reporters. “I come from a business that is purely entertainment. I screwed up, and I apologize.”

Wow. Call me underwhelmed.

There isn’t a sports commissioner worth his or her suit coat who would take Lesnar’s mea culpa as enough punishment for the superfecta of fouls Lesnar just committed. They’d have him on indefinite suspension as I write and getting ready to cough up part of his purse as restitution.

But that isn’t what the UFC is all about. It’s not about being spectacular; it’s about being a spectacle.

John Ryan in the San Jose Mercury News:

“That’s not who Brock really is, and what he did out there is not real,” White said. “You don’t have to act like someone you’re not. This isn’t the WWE. I’m not trying to get someone to act all crazy so we’ll do more pay-per-views. That’s not what this sport is about.”

No, not at all, not what this sport is about. This is the same Dana White whose previous foray into mainstream sports media was a homophobic and sexist rant, in the most vile terms possible, against a reporter who had gotten a story entirely correct but in a manner that displeased White. So, yeah, White apologizing for etiquette doesn’t carry a whole lot of truth.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 31 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

31 Responses to “Quote of the day – skepticism about UFC”

  1. David M says:

    Honestly Zach, Skip Bayless is as relevant to the UFC fan base as Rosie O’Donnell. The UFC’s target audience is 18-34 year old men, and younger males than that are really getting into it as well. I am a 25 year old, and I have never heard anyone ever mention Skip Bayless’ name or ever give a flying fuck what he thinks or says.

    Old white sportswriters are giant douchey snobs who are too set in their ways and too self-loathing re: the ability of white people to fight to ever accept mma. They all think any boxer could come in and kill everyone. Who cares? Nobody has ever based his decision of whether or not to order a pay per view on Skip fucking Bayless’ worthless opinion. What is he talking about anyways? “Looks suspicious”?? What looks suspicious? Frank Mir’s battered face? What a joke.

  2. Dave says:

    Sorry my brother, but Skip Bayless has a platform that reaches far beyond yours and is more influential than most if any of us are.

    That is irrelevant anyway, what is relevant is he is a longtime sports fan and journalist and his impressions of UFC are as they are.

    Rich white people are the ones in control (except for Oprah, oh Oprah) of many things, media included, and this is a somewhat popular opinion held by such people.

    I’ve been saying this a lot now, but freakshows and so forth are quick feature attractions and only lead to a drastic fall afterwards.

  3. Mark says:

    Exactly. If Skip Bayless is the biggest name to bash Brock during the quick one-day media review of a UFC show, then we’re doing just fine.

    Nobody takes Bayless seriously. Even less people read his Twitter account.

  4. Mark says:

    Dave you know who Bayless is, right? He plays the comic relief on various ESPN shows like First Take and Around The Horn. You know, that guy who writes stuff on the chalk board behind him and says silly things to get mocked by the other guests. And you’re comparing his influence to the media elite? The same guy who suggested America quit the Olympics and have an American-only games. Him.

    Old guard sports types are going to hate MMA no matter what happens. Get over it.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    The more important story is that the UFC was getting major airtime and discussion during all of the ESPN shows today, including PTI.

    They also had a reported $1.8 Million payroll. On top of that…. $2.6 Million additional for Lesnar…. $.4 Million additional for FOTN Bonuses….. Mir reported to get $45,000….. Yet it is said he is getting 7 figures. So when everything is said and done, the UFC is likely paying over $7 Million to the fighters. The is huge compared to any other organization and a huge step up from even 2 years ago.

    And Lesnar still is a big attraction.

  6. Dave says:

    I’m well aware of who he is. Like I said, he still is better known and has a bigger platform than most of us do, clown or not.

  7. David M says:

    Dave–Oprah could bash the UFC and it wouldn’t matter because nobody who watches the UFC cares what she is saying. Same goes for Skip Bayless. Old white sports “journalists” don’t matter at all to people who are or would be interested in MMA. Around the Horn is the worst show on television and I don’t know anyone who watches it. Bayless is an assclown and he is anathema to the type of person who watches mma. His disapproval literally means zero, this is just a slow news day so Zach is acting like some worthless fucking idiot tv blabbering head who nobody gives a shit about has an important opinion, when in fact he doesnt.

  8. Alan Conceicao says:

    Those people speak to prospective fans of the UFC were it ever to want to be try and be something bigger than the king of the carny pseudosports. The brushback from the MMA bloggers to this is hilarious. Last week they were talking about the “bigger than soccer” comments with some degree of seriousness. Now they are in full blown attack mode: “Who wants to be mainstream? That sucks! It’s for lowbrow entertainment!” It’s deserving only of ridicule.

  9. Mark says:

    If it’s such a slow news day we could talk about that nasty rumor going around that Wes Sims blabbed that Kimbo was KOed in his first TUF fight and the debate going on if that’s legit or not. That’s far more interesting than this dumb ass.

  10. IceMuncher says:

    I disagree with the second article’s claim that the UFC peaked and hit its ceiling with UFC 100. Granted UFC 100 may reign with highest buyrate for quite a while, but there’s room for the UFC to grow as a whole.

    UFC is still expanding internationally and opening more markets. Viewership and media coverage has been steadily rising over the past few years. And most importantly, Zuffa hasn’t made a major network deal yet. Once that happens, we can talk ceilings.

  11. EJ says:

    1. Skip Bayless’s opinion means nothing he’s a living gimmick on ESPN just look at his Lebron obssession. The guy has been questioning the UFC way before Brock ever fought for them he is the typical out of touch sport writer who’s knowledge of the sport is zero.

    2. UFC 100 is just a number, the next card UFC 101 is also a huge card and could end up being a better show. Look at where the economy is and the success of the UFC becomes even more incredible this thing is far from peaking anytime soon.

  12. Zach Arnold says:

    His disapproval literally means zero, this is just a slow news day so Zach is acting like some worthless fucking idiot tv blabbering head who nobody gives a shit about has an important opinion, when in fact he doesnt.

    I have four articles to write in the next couple of days. Not a slow period for me. 🙂

  13. Kelvin Hunt says:

    “It was as big a card as could be constructed”

    LOL@ that statement.

  14. Ultimo Santa says:

    Skip Bayless saying he has ‘suspicions’ about the UFC is a code – it’s a wink to all his fellow pseudo-intellectuals, signaling that he’s ahead of the curve.

    “You can’t fool me!” thinks Skip, “There is a former pro wrestler in the cage. Which means, automatically, that the event is FAKE! I’m the only person smart enough to figure out this elaborate ruse.”

    This is the same line that certain media outlets were trying to sell us when the XFL launched. Before the first game was EVER PLAYED, a number of sources were reporting that it was fixed, and every game would be staged like wrestling.

    This will fool a small, extremely ignorant group of readers, but everyone else will see it for what it is.

  15. David M says:

    “journalist” Ray Ratto’s article was hilarious too. Somehow because UFC 100 is a round number, this is the peak of the UFC. I swear sometimes I am appalled by the ignorance of the “mainstream” sports world. UFC’s videogame just sold 2 million copies in its first month, and the sport has started to become embedded in American culture. It is going nowhere but up, and anyone who isn’t retarded knows that.

  16. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    “It is going nowhere but up, and anyone who isn’t retarded knows that.”

    Clear sell signal if I’ve EVER seen one.

  17. Mark says:

    So a promo is what makes Skip think he’s being worked? With all of the “phantom punches” in boxing that lead to knockouts, they never cross his mind that a dive is being taken. But some guy beaten to a swollen mess having a promo cut on him makes it fake? Something tells me he didn’t even watch the show and is going on seeing the Lesnar rant on YouTube.

    But Jim Ross didn’t help matters any by selling Brock as being crazy backstage.

    “Those that do not personally know Lesnar as do I need to understand that his level of intensity and fury is scary. Brock has said many things in private conversations that I have been a part of that would make one do a double take. He is an intimidating, emotional jock who has been known for speaking first and thinking later. I don’t think Brock is an inherently evil person whatsoever but his level of competitiveness can be dangerous.”

  18. Ultimo Santa says:

    “Something tells me he didn’t even watch the show and is going on seeing the Lesnar rant on YouTube.”

    EXACTLY. This is the kind of dismissive junk reporting that used to fly when the UFC was a barely-legal, underground sideshow.

    But as it breaks into the mainstream as a legitimate sporting event, this crap is becoming silly.

    And that’s an excellent point about boxing. Where have the accusations been from the media about that sports legitimacy?

  19. Russell says:

    Only a F-ing idiot could have watched Saturdays card and had the slightest suspicion that UFC bouts are FAKED (worked). Dan Henderson knocked Bisping completely out cold. Brock Lesnar held Frank Mir in a schoolyard side headlock and beat his face in. Of all the times that someone could say that UFC was suspicious or might be fake, this is the absolute dumbest. BTW, ESPN as a network obviously is very conflicted right now. I feel like the network understands that MMA (read UFC) is blowing up, but none of their on-air personalities seem to “get it” and just cant resist throwing in snide remarks and basically insulting the fans of the sport as well. Everything from the pre-fight mentions to the post fight results and video clips were very obviously crafted to make MMA look bad.

  20. Mark says:

    Boxing is unimpeachable to the sports press. The most perfect wrestling storyline of all-time that Vince McMahon wishes his writers came up with was Tyson vs. Lewis.

    Think about it: Tyson starts off getting heat by cutting a promo after a fight saying he’s going to eat Lewis’ children (unfortunately Lewis isn’t a father, but that’s beside the point.) Then they do a press conference where Tyson freaks out and starts swinging at Lewis and his entourage then bites Lewis’ leg as a throwback to the Holyfield days (although Lewis never went to the hospital about it and people in his camp don’t recall seeing bite marks.) After that Tyson cuts a promo on the media to get heat from them, now they’re all over this fight after Tyson worked them into it.

    Then fight day comes when justice is served; Tyson can’t do anything to Lewis and gets battered into submission. They even perfectly timed filming Tyson having a breakdown in his corner whining that he doesn’t have anything left to dish out to Lewis. Then he’s KOed and wakes up a changed man, cutting a babyface promo saying he didn’t mean anything he said about Lewis or his family, that they’ve been friends since they were teenagers and even gives him a loving peck on the cheek. There’s never been a more perfect wrestling storyline than that. But nobody ever questioned its legitimacy. And ironically, Tyson did more to help the WWE in one month than Brock Lesnar ever did in his career.

  21. David M says:

    “Clear sell signal if I’ve EVER seen one.”

    Great argument. Yep, nothing says the UFC has jumped the shark like breaking ppv records, being accepted as part of pop culture, selling millions of videogames, drawing huge tv ratings among 18-34 year old males, paying their fighters 100k bonuses, attracting more and more blue chip sponsors, being broadcast around the world live, getting 5 million dollar gates, and selling out virtually every arena they go to. You are prescient.

  22. Alan Conceicao says:

    LOL, you guys. Completely missing the point. Maybe the next Fan Expo can be even bigger! They can have more adult film stars/high priced escorts! Maybe a photo op with Grave Digger. Some MotoX exhibitions in the parking lot? Oooh, I’m sure they could get some highly respected musical acts to play too. Maybe Motley Crue? Or perhaps Korn! And lots of energy drink booths. Too old if its too loud!

  23. David M says:

    You aren’t making an argument, you’re just being bitter. What is your point about fan expo? It wasn’t aristocratic enough for you? NBA All-Star Game, NFL Pro Bowl, etc are always marked by activities for the fans to partake in. I for some reason doubt that everyone at those events drives a Mercedes and has a wine cellar. I’m not sure what good there is in thumbing your nose at mma’s fanbase, 30,000-50,000 of whom came in person to Fan Expo.

  24. Alan Conceicao says:

    Its the same point made all along: They may make a lot of money, but they’ve proven without a shadow of a doubt to be willling to go totally classless to do it. Defending it on the basis that “well, they wouldn’t be accepted anyways” is an unprovable assertion. Certainly they’ve had to work damn hard to get to this point in terms of cleaning up the appearance and fashion in which the sport is prevented. Arguing that UFC 100 harkened back to the great promotional success of Tank Abbott shows how shortsighted a lot of folks have become. Tank’s rise in popularity created the momentum to wipe UFC off cable providers and ban them in multiple states. Imagine a state legislator in NY on the fence about MMA seeing Hendo/Bisping and the subsequent “Oh man, watch him stiffen up!” type comments.

  25. Russell says:

    They are going so totally classless about it that their tickets are about the highest priced for any sports and entertainment show that you can buy. They attract the absolute most desirable demographic in all of marketing.

    They are BUILDING their company and brand very successfully. Harley Davidson, Burger King, and Bud Light are replacing Xyience and Mickeys as sponsors. They are the highest grossing PPV entity in the world. You are right, they are obviously going about things the wrong way.

  26. David M says:

    Oh come on, do you really think people over 50 would ever accept mma? I honestly don’t think that mma would ever have a shot in hell with that generation, whereas for people 30 and south, who have grown up with mma, it is totally accepted. It is amazing to me how many people who I would have considered casual fans a few years ago now watch all the events and always watch with big groups. MMA is exploding and really doesn’t need the older generation’s approval, whether you like it or not.

    There is something on every UFC show that is incredibly violent. I don’t think boxing would ever face threats of bans even though there are way more deaths in boxing, and we see biting as well. MMA is never going to be able to please everyone; what the UFC has done is create a large, devoted fanbase that is increasing in passion and size on a daily basis. A few rabid anti-mma advocates who are incredibly uneducated about the sport should not dictate policy.

    MMA legislation will get entirely passed in NY next term and there will be an event in MSG in 2009. It is inevitable.

    I am not arguing that what Hendo or Brock did was excusable. Their actions were terrible, but at least in Dan’s case, understandable. People who were anti-mma before this show are still anti-mma; whether or not Hendo had nailed Bisping when he was down or given him a bunch of flowers, old, faux-righteous politicians are still going to say it is vulgar and human cockfighting. However, when they see their respective states’ budget deficits, all those complaints will vanish when they look at the bottom line and see how much money they could bring in if the UFC came to town.

  27. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Jumped the shark? Never said that. But this would be a good opportunity to take profits for sure.

    There are two approaches here, you can continue to try to stack shows and hype them which costs a lot of money, or you can have a run of cheaper budget shows to cash in.

    If this were a stock on the open market, either one might be bad (revenue per show down, or costs up). Clear sell.

  28. Asa says:

    Jumped that Shark wasn’t inferred in any way. I read it as a fad peaking.

    And I personally am not concerned with how Old White Guys affect the “fans,” I’m concerned with how they affect the sponsors and execs the sport needs to get on TV so it can be watched by everyone who doesn’t have the disposable income of Young White Guys – which is most of the world.

    Neat write-up Zach.

  29. Russell says:

    Jeremy – I couldn’t disagree more. No offense intended, but so many writers and “experts” are either extremely short-sighted, or just hate the UFC so badly that they are not able to step back and look at the big picture.

    While this may be the current high-water mark, I still think that the sports overall popularity has just scratched the surface. Boxing is hanging by a thread right now, and people like to watch other people fight. How about this, if you were a day trader and wanted to make a quick buck – sell. The next couple of PPV’s may not do as well. But, if you were an “investor” and concerned about the long term prospects, MMA will be much bigger in 1-2 years than it is right now.

    The thing I most admire about UFC’s business model (and I think they learned this from WWE) is the smart international expansion. Having so many countries that generate revenue is a great safety net. Besides, if WWE can ride out the horrible waves of publicity that they have had through the years and still thrive (Benoit, Steroid scandals, young wrestlers dying all the time) I have no reason whatsoever to think that MMA wouldnt be able to do the same. There will ALWAYS be a home for UFC on a cable TV channel (at least for the next 10 years).

    Also, this fall will be the highest rated TUF ever, and at least 2-3 of the heavyweights will come out with a big name and people interested in seeing them.

  30. Mark says:

    No, it is provable that MMA is not going to be accepted by the over-40 crowd. It’s been proven for nearly 16 years.

    It’s a foreign concept to them. I heard some sports radio host make a comment of along the lines “I respect them as athletes, but I cannot stomach watching a sport where it’s ok to beat a man when he’s down.” So even if every MMA fighter acted as gentlemanly as Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning at all times, that age group still can’t get past the concept of the sports itself. So what are you going to do, sanitize ground n pound offense away so you can get your wish of being covered as much as the NFL? Who cares if they’re as big as the NFL: the UFC is a household name, you can watch several MMA programs during the week on cable television and the sport is holding its own against its real competitor boxing.

    I don’t understand this obsession MMA fans have with making MMA bigger, I think it’s great where it is right now. I think UFC needs to pay fighters better money, but now the UFC gets disappointed when they get only 300,000 buys when 5 years ago they were popping champagne when they get 150,000. And it should never be like every other sport. That is part of its appeal, there’s still a edginess to it that you don’t get with boring baseball, sanitized football or mediocre basketball.

  31. Mark says:

    Russell you can’t have it both ways. How can international expansion be the key to making real money, but boxing is “hanging on by a thread”? Boxing is freakin’ enormous still pretty much everywhere but America, especially in Europe. UFC 99 in Germany only got less than 13,000 fans. But shortly after that Wladimir Klitschko drew 61,000 fans in a soccer stadium in the biggest German fight since the heyday of Max Schmeling, the biggest sports star ever in Germany. That doesn’t sound like “hanging on by a thread” to me. I’m not huge on boxing either, but I’m not going to buy into Dana’s “boxing is dead” propaganda when evidence suggests otherwise.


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