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The activist media campaign against Fedor

By Zach Arnold | July 30, 2009

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I haven’t said much on the whole Fedor “will he or won’t he?” story in regards to whether or not he will go to UFC. I’ve always felt that it will never happen, so why get antsy about it? I think Fedor’s camp will be perfectly happy with having the mystique of their guy being ‘the one that got away’ from UFC.

However, there seems to be a lot of media types who unfortunately are acting more like political activists than actual writers and reporters. What a shock, I know.

On various message boards and web sites (and a couple of radio outlets), we’re now lead to believe ‘rumored’ numbers like Fedor being offered $30 million dollars by UFC, and yet there’s no online ‘fingerprints’ from UFC’s behalf for it. It’s the David Axelrod graduate school of marketing here, but it also helps to have willing participants ready and able to carry your water. (Carmichael Dave is on KHTK in Sacramento and Dana White is a frequent guest.) Have you noticed how the campaign of information and misinformation online is working to discredit Fedor and try to paint him in a bad light? Look, we know he’s isolated and nothing is going to change and whatever happens for the rest of his career, it will be on him in regards to why he didn’t fight in UFC. If that offends you, then it offends you. Obviously he seems happy with his current business arrangements, so let him go off and do whatever he is going to do.

However, this idea that web sites and blogs should participate in an explicit active role of ‘being used’ for spread information/misinformation in regards to what UFC is ‘allegedly’ offering to Fedor’s camp is silly. It plays right into Dana White’s hands. Hey, if the MMA web sites say anything negative about him, he has ammunition to not give them media credentials for live events. And if the web sites start astroturfing in order to generate good press for UFC, well he has his cake and can eat it too.

One of the media tactics that UFC has used in the past with great success, on their own accord and/or through various media members, is that they will float a news item and do it so strongly that by the time there’s evidence to contradict the initial claim, it’s already too late because the majority of people have already bought into what UFC (or the media writer) has said. UFC has managed to use the speed and repetitiveness of news cycles, combined with media laziness, to craft the message they want the public to absorb. You always see this with ‘PPV buyrate trending estimates’ or, the best example, being the Zuffa Myth. It has been said that UFC invented rules and cleaned up MMA so many times in the press that even if you try to correct the record, only a small percentage of media consumers will figure the initial claim is bogus or spin – the majority of media consumers and writers just end up parroting what UFC said in the first place. In fact, this rapid response claim tactic is what UFC does best — and they have willing, anxious participants in the media who are ready to write it and carry water at any time. If you were in UFC’s shoes as a promoter and have a bunch of willing writers willing to carry your message unchallenged, you’d do the same thing. Can’t blame them. In this case, blame the messengers.

The amazing thing in all of this flurry of activity within the last 24 hours is just seeing how many people in the media are so willing to do whatever it takes to get Fedor into UFC. A perfect example of this is right here.

If anyone from M-1 is reading this, allow me to give you a heads up. The more news of these terms spread, the more the MMA fanbase (hardcore and casual) are going to turn on you in what I can guarantee will be pure viciousness in its backlash. Perhaps that is of little concern to you and your motives, but it is an inevitability.

Why the hell would Fedor or his camp care about what writers say about him? Seriously. They’re not the ones paying him $1.5 million USD per fight; promoters are. But I have to admit — Fedor’s camp has opened himself up to this line of attack when they sent out that goofy semi-press release stating that they wanted Brett Rogers instead of Vitor Belfort because of what they saw on a web site.

“Pure viciousness?”

So the same Fedor fans who are being encouraged to get upset by various web sites because he won’t sign with UFC are just suddenly going to stop watching the guy fight, especially if he fights Josh Barnett in Japan on NYE? Whatever.

I’m more than willing to be a pawn in this negotiations if it means we see Fedor vs. Brock in the UFC.

Let me stress that if you are a fan and you are adamant about doing whatever it takes to drumbeat support for Fedor in UFC, that’s your right. You’re a fan; you’re not a writer and you’re not trying to pass yourself off as a professional. Too many people on various web sites and blogs want ‘respect’ and want to be treated like a professional ‘journalist’, yet act in an entirely different manner. Perhaps Fedor is flushing down some cash down the toilet for not signing with UFC, but the longer this story progresses the more it seems that various UFC boosters are willing to flush their credibility down the toilet as well.

It’s one thing to be an ‘activist’ if you are trying to root out, say, steroids or the mafia from the fight game. It’s another thing to become an activist and to huff and puff when a fighter doesn’t want to sign with your favorite fight promotion.

Addendum: Couple of arguments already against what I’ve written here…

a) I’m not on anyone’s side here. Re-read the article and you’ll see that I’m not siding with Fedor. I don’t care if he’s in the UFC or not. I’m not an activist on this issue and neither should other writers who want to be taken seriously, either.

b) I’m amazed at what people take away from certain articles as opposed to what the whole point of the articles were in the first place. Case in point – the BJ Penn article here yesterday with his quotes about the media ended up turning into… you guessed it… a re-hash flame war debate on Penn vs. GSP, which wasn’t the point of the article. Now with the article about media activism in trying to pressure Fedor to sign with UFC based on generating a negative campaign, people start arguing about… why Fedor is a clown and a bad guy for not signing with UFC.

Topics: M-1, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 93 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

93 Responses to “The activist media campaign against Fedor”

  1. Ivan Trembow says:

    Grape Knee High— But if every fighter’s legitimacy and relevance as a fighter is determined by whether or not they accept whatever it is that the UFC is offering them, that adds a tremendous amount of leverage to the UFC’s side and takes a tremendous amount of leverage away from the side of all fighters. That’s a big part of the reason why the UFC and its surrogates tend to portray it as though a fighter is irrelevant if he doesn’t sign with the UFC, even Fedor.

  2. Alan Conceicao says:

    To be fair, I think he reports what he’s told, and that’s probably what they tell him. I don’t think there’s a grand conspiracy there. Then again, I think the issue is that he ran with it as “confirmed”. Its pretty obvious he didn’t do the leg work he should have. So, if he won’t do it for a story about the #1 heavyweight in the world defecting, what about a fluff story like PPV buys?

  3. Ivan Trembow says:

    The “trending patterns” and the actual numbers are two separate things, and they should be treated as such, but they often aren’t. Considering “trending patterns” to be the same as the actual PPV buyrate isn’t any more logical than considering an election poll to be the same as the actual election results.

    But it does get the message out to the media that X event drew X buys. As Zach said, “We hear one thing right after a PPV in terms of buys and then the real number comes in a month or two later and it’s… surprise… lower. Guess which number fans know about in the end?”

  4. kjh says:

    At least Dave Meltzer is clever enough to hedge his bets and outright says he hasn’t verified the story to be true and it’s just the story UFC wants out there.

  5. EJ says:

    You anti-Zuffa guys are hillarious, you are so obssessed with paiting the UFC in a bad light that you will reach for anything to make your points.

    There is no great Zuffa conspiracy, they don’t control PPV estimates they never have. Those numbers come from the cable companies themselves which relaese the estimates shortly after a show then the final numbers months after.

    You guys really need to put down your tin foil hats because you keeps looking more and more desperate by the day. It’s no wonder that the UFC has pretty much shut down mma blogs credentials, when you read stuff from Alan and Ivan it’s pretty clear why Dana feels the way he does it’s embarrasing.

  6. klown says:


    If Zuffa isn’t paying you to attack Fedor online full-time, they’re ripping you off, too 🙂

  7. klown says:

    Grape Knee,

    Of course all fighters should stand up for themselves against the UFC’s unscrupulous management practices. They just lack the power to do so. That is why those of us who support fighters’ rights tend to end up championing the few mega-stars who are actually capable of challenging the UFC.

    For ordinary fighters to be able to mount similar challenges, there is no other option but for them to unite and organize a fighters’ union.

  8. Ivan Trembow says:

    There’s no conspiracy. Meltzer cites trending info based on cable companies and based on UFC sources, and he often says that it was from cable companies and/or UFC sources. My point is that trending info and actual PPV buyrates are two separate things that should be treated as such, instead of trying to get a report out there with a number in it ASAP.

  9. Zack says:

    EJ…I’m far from anti-Zuffa. I bet I’ve gone to more UFCs than you.

  10. Ivan Trembow says:

    Now we have both sides confirming that the UFC has relented on the Sambo deal.

    What I haven’t seen reported, or even leaked by the UFC (at least not yet), is that Fedor’s UFC contract would not contain the champion’s clause that auto-renews one year at a time for the rest of your life for as long as you’re the champion.

    Rob Maysey, who has written more about UFC contracts than anyone, confirms regarding the champion’s clause that the “UFC version, as drafted, keeps renewing.”

    If Fedor ever wanted to fight the champion’s clause in court as Randy Couture did for a year before giving up, there would be a solid 18-to-24 months from the time that the lawsuit was filed to the trial date, and even then, there is no guarantee that he’d win in a Nevada court system with judges like the Xyience/Bergeron case judge who got elected with campaign money from the Fertittas (that is not a secret, a rumor, or a conspiracy theory, as the judge publicly thanked the Fertittas on his web site for their contributions to his election campaign).

  11. Grape Knee High says:

    But if every fighter’s legitimacy and relevance as a fighter is determined by whether or not they accept whatever it is that the UFC is offering them, that adds a tremendous amount of leverage to the UFC’s side and takes a tremendous amount of leverage away from the side of all fighters.

    I don’t know that this would be the case for the truly popular fighters. They’ve already earned their legitimacy/relevance by being good and/or popular.

    I wouldn’t suggest hardline negotiating for fighters who don’t already have leverage.

  12. Steve4192 says:

    I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I would like to see Fedor in the UFC, but it’s his life and he chooses to go in another direction that is his prerogative. I’ll remain a fan of his and watch his fights regardless of who is promoting him.

    That said, it seems like many of you folks are automatically assuming Carmichael Dave’s numbers are completely fabricated and Snowden’s updates are completely accurate. Aren’t they both opposite sides of the same coin? Shouldn’t we treat both sets of numbers with trepidation?

    Personally, I am tired of the whole mess. I’m going to ignore any and all Fedor news until his next fight is announced. Then I’m going to make plans to be at home that night in front of my TV.

  13. Ivan Trembow says:

    Grape Knee High— I’m not saying that I agree with that line of thinking; I’m just saying that’s how the UFC and its surrogates portray it.

    Steve— Putting Snowden in the same class as Carmichael is pretty insulting. Are people forgetting that Snowden wrote what is almost universally regarded as the best book about the history of MMA that has ever been written? Does that not give him any credibility?

  14. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    If there are very few journalists in the mainstream, there are even fewer in the sports world. Sports “reporting” is dominated by editorial, in part due to the influence of sports radio, in part due to ESPN, and in part because that’s how it has always been done (regular sports columnists). The reporting ends at the box score and the recap. The editorial is everything else, and the journalism that exists in the sports world is almost all either in SI (rarely) or books.

  15. Ivan Trembow says:

    … and Josh Thomson is out of his fight against Gilbert Melendez, replaced by Mitsuhiro Ishida. (according to MMA Junkie,

    Melendez trying to avenge his first MMA loss is a good theme, but I’m looking forward to this fight a lot less than Thomson-Melendez II, especially given that Ishida is coming off of a loss.

  16. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    GKH, I’m a radical leftist, I’m perfectly capable of thinking that Brock Lesnar and Cro Cop are overpaid and that Lyoto Machida is underpaid. Fedor has a significant amount of leverage because he’s proven that he will just walk away on numerous occasions, however, he’s running out of bigger fools.

  17. kjh says:

    To add to Ivan’s reply to Steve, Snowden’s story just makes a lot more sense too.

  18. Dave says:

    I mean basically here, Jon just kicked the ass of the entire internet.

  19. Alan Conceicao says:

    I’m sorry, Ishida/Melendez II is a fight I have no interest in watching. Since I’ll be gone this weekend, I can probably wait on ordering Showtime for sure now until the Super 6 tournament starts up. Ishida barely matters and it can only do damage to Melendez’s reputation. Winning is meaningless now.

    As for Snowden over Carmichael, the majority of reports since along with basic logic would lead me to expect Jon’s story to be right and the radio host’s to be wrong right now. Of course, pointing that out makes you a horrible UFC hater who wants Fedor to fight Werdum or something, I think. What’s the new story on *insert board here* about that?

  20. Alan Conceicao says:

    If there are very few journalists in the mainstream, there are even fewer in the sports world.

    Certainly this is true. Creative writing will always be easier than investigative journalism. You or I can talk about Somalia all day without ever going. Its a lot more difficult to be the guy who has to gather the information. We would hope and ask that he be at least as objective as possible. We saw precious little of that though from the usual suspects. Hell, this place wasn’t even breaking news. They all operate as message boards, some with more success than others due to proper cultivation of audiences vis-a-vis interaction with them following articles, but what makes this different from USENET circa 1994 is nothing beyond that people own their posts (to a degree) and can link to youtube videos.

    Alternately, I don’t remember people who posted on USENET claiming to be journalists deserving of credentials merely by posting all that often. If they had, they’d be objects of derision and laughter, which is what this is to me. The subsequent arguments about whether or not Fedor is going to the UFC ultimately are irrelevant:

    What matters is that the umpteen forums posting this are “taking a stand”, for whatever that means, and are attempting to force people’s hands. They’re not doing that for the good of the sport. Its to establish legitimacy and value of themselves. Honestly, I wouldn’t be in the least bit be shocked to see Fedor sign anyways. But it shouldn’t be the job of the media to circulate bad information that they think might be bad just to get a end result they prefer.

  21. Two great articles on sherdog and aol mms fanhouse pointing out the ridiculousness of fedor’s management position and the obvious conflict of interest. I’d hardly consider these articles to be a mouthpiece of Dana white

    Rather these two articles are stating the obvious, objective point…that Fedor’s management are a bunch of self serving idiots.

    Is it wrong to write about that? I’m going to strongly say NO.

  22. Alan Conceicao says:

    That’s not wrong to talk about at all, and if you want to point your criticism primarily at that, that’s fine. It is somewhere between reprehensible and utterly juvenile to throw around unsubstantiated claims as truth and then basically admit you’re willing to write hit pieces to try and force someone to sign with a promoter you favor. I suppose where it would fit on the scale between the two depends on what you imagine you’d get out of it. If all you’d achieve is personal satisfaction, you are a bizarre person.

  23. Alan,

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

    These journalists are exposing Fedor’s management for what they really are…and I applaud them.

    I’m still not sure who is trying to write a piece to “force” someone to sign with a promotion. Would you point them out to me?

    Again…whats the big deal if someone writes an article as to why someone should sign with a promotion?

    Finally…how does this make me a bizarre person? No need to make this personal.

    Maybe I’m missing the main point of Zach’s piece…which article or journalist admitted to writing an article in order to force fedor to sign with the UFC?

    Writing an article as to why it would be wise to sign with one promotion, or foolish to sign with another, is not “forcing” someone to sign with a promotion. Its making use of the journalist’s right to freedom of speech.

  24. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    The piece itself (Zach’s) was weak when it was published, but now that we seem to have confirmation that this didn’t just land on Carmichael’s desk, but was also transmitted to MMA writers as well, I think there’s a much stronger argument that this was a deliberate leak to influence negotiations.

    Unless Meltzer feels like publishing whatever communication he received from UFC, I’m still reluctant to say that the information AS RELEASED BY CARMICHAEL was the information that UFC intended to release. A contract that’s potentially worth $30 million (with a lot of caveats) is a nice headline number though.

    If the MMA newsletter writers, bloggers, and sports radio talksters are willing to act as de facto mouthpieces for UFC without double checking anything, then I’m not at all inclined to blame UFC for manipulating them or to feel bad for the “media” for being abused like that.

  25. Chuck says:


    The point of Zach’s article is pointing out the differences between journalists and editorials/columnists. If some is throwing their opinions and not really covering any sort of news in an objective manner, then he/she is a columnist, not a journalist. If he/she is covering what is happening in an objective, cold, and distant manner, then that is journalism. There is nothing wrong with someone stating their opinions, but to call it journalism is pretty incorrect.

  26. Alan Conceicao says:

    I’m still not sure who is trying to write a piece to “force” someone to sign with a promotion. Would you point them out to me?

    See the initial post.

    Again…whats the big deal if someone writes an article as to why someone should sign with a promotion?

    Because its not the job of any objective journalist to demand what promoter someone should sign to, particularly without full knowledge of what the terms are. Matter of fact, we’re at the point where people don’t even care about that.

    Finally…how does this make me a bizarre person?

    To what, demand Fedor bend to your will and fight for your preferred MMA promotion? Gee, man, I dunno. What is it that you so identify with in the UFC in particular that you have an emotional stake in it? Seriously. Because that’s what this is about; dudes with emotional stake in fight promoters, of all people, making demands on their behalf, facts be damned.

  27. Alan Conceicao says:

    If the MMA newsletter writers, bloggers, and sports radio talksters are willing to act as de facto mouthpieces for UFC without double checking anything, then I’m not at all inclined to blame UFC for manipulating them or to feel bad for the “media” for being abused like that.

    Absolutely! This should go without saying. I completely expect the UFC to do this. Hell, they would be doing a crappy job if they weren’t. Its the job of the journos out there to do the legwork. We’re seeing who’s going the extra mile right now and who doesn’t. Its not a knock on the UFC. Its a knock on the shitty writers who cover the UFC.

  28. So wanting to see the best fighter in the best promotion makes me bizarre, and bloggers/journalist who write about why it’s a good idea for fedor to fight in the UFC and ditch vadim, means they are dana’s mouthpiece means they are Dana’s mouthpiece and are trying to bend fedor’s will?

    That’s the most idiotic statemen I’ve ever heard.

    Nothing wrong with being persuasive

  29. Chuck says:

    “Nothing wrong with being persuasive”

    It is when you want to call yourself a journalist. If you want to be persuasive, then you are a columnist, not a journalist.

  30. bundt says:

    I’d just like to point out the most recent Sherdog article is some of the most worthless, shitty reporting I’ve ever seen. They have some dude who doesn’t matter at all quoted as saying the UFC’s offers being the most financially lucrative is an “unsubstantiated rumor”… well you can google for about a minute and find an interview with Vadim on Sherdog saying that it was the most lucrative.

  31. So then…which “journalist” is guilty of trying to be persuasive, and does a blogger qualify as being a journalist?

    Even regular news journalists report with a hint of persuasion.

  32. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Journalism involves more than rewriting press releases and expressing your personal opinion or organizational opinion (real media outlets have a consistent voice that their writers are expected to use).

    Journalism involves cultivating multiple sources inside organizations or close to organizations, conducting interviews, retaining evidence of source discussions (especially in cases where a source won’t be disclosed in the article so that your organization can fact-check your story), researching background information to form historical context, and then writing a presentation that is intended to be persuasive or informative (in other words, there generally ought to be a thesis or theme of some sort), and throughout expressing things in a professional and fair way (note that fair does not mean balanced, plenty of current media just reports what both parties to something say and give you ZERO information on what is true and what isn’t).

    If you’re not doing that, you’re not a journalist in any but the most general sense, you’re a writer.

    Which isn’t to say that there’s no value to just blogging opinions and linking to other people’s stories.

    The value of blogs comes from exposing you to contrasting opinions, like the editorial page of a newspaper, but generally more interactive since there are usually comments.

    You get that same kind of interaction with the best journalists though, they often do interviews with other media outlets and have to defend their stories. The classic example of a journalist is Seymour Hersh. Not everyone agrees with his stories, but it’s hard to argue with his deep sources and the organizational backing that he gets from his editors, even if you don’t like the conclusions that he comes to.

  33. Alan Conceicao says:

    So then…which “journalist” is guilty of trying to be persuasive, and does a blogger qualify as being a journalist?

    Look around. Most of them admit it. Again: Scroll up. The second part comes in with the obvious reality that they want to be considered journalists. Wanting to get press passes so that you can intentionally spread disinformation (and using the excuse that you’re just willing to do so blindly makes no difference) is at the very least morally abhorrent and completely disingenuous to the readers. But it makes for readership, and that’s all that matters. Luke Thomas isn’t going to give a shit about what I say about his journalistic integrity. He knows he has zero and he doesn’t care if he ever has any. He all but admits it. All he wants to do is get on the gravy train. Site views equal legitimacy just like PPV buys and TV ratings. No different picture in his mind.

  34. Chuck says:

    “So then…which “journalist” is guilty of trying to be persuasive, and does a blogger qualify as being a journalist?

    Even regular news journalists report with a hint of persuasion.”

    Are you serious? Just about ALL MMA writers out there are condemning Fedor for not going to UFC. And all of them are saying Fedor should go to the UFC, listing reasons why. How is that not being persuasive?

    And as you said, many journalists may give a HINT of persuasion, but that is merely a hint. There’s a VERY fine line to cross. Good journalists don’t cross or even come across that line.

  35. I re-read the article and I’m just thinking, should blogs be held to the same standards as the print media?

    But anyway, I wanted to share this “find
    ” with everyone.


    Fedor officially joins the UFC

    On Thursday July 30, 2009, UFC president Dana White officially announced the signing of Fedor Emelianenko in an undisclosed contract agreement. Dana White has posted the signing on his twitter page and has confirmed these reports. Fedor’s Manger, Vadim Finklestein, has been quoted as saying, “now we will see who the best in the world is.” referring to a probable Fedor vs Lesnar match in the near future.

    -What the hell…did wikipedia just break a major mma newstory? Obviously this has to be fake….right?

  36. Chuck says:

    Well, Wikipedia broke the story of Nancy Benoit dying BEFORE she actually died, so clearly Wikipedia can predict the future!

    Clearly this was someone posting bullshit on Wikipedia. Of course it’s fake! Hell, I remember a while back someone posted on the Kirby videogame page that Uwe Boll was going to do a Kirby live action movie, which was clearly false. And on the Chuck Norris page Wikipedia had to lock it for a while because a bunch of people were posting the Chuck Norris jokes.

  37. Adam Smith says:


    Good article. It is very, very rare to find an objective piece of journalism in all of mma. Congratulations, this is one of the few I have ever read.

    White has a stranglehold on the mma media. Those he does not own, are intimidated by the UFC or have access cut off. We have seen how it works. Dana is a pathological liar and does not deserve Fedor. Hopefully we see him in Strikeforce on CBS and Showtime. I won’t spend a dime on the UFC because of White.

    Good work!

  38. rainrider says:

    I think it is a common belief of MMA fans and media that signing Fedor was supposed to be part of the deal when Zuffa bought PRIDE. I think Dana White intentionally let the Russian run from him so he will be a huge draw when the time is ripe for both UFC HW division and Fedor.

    Putting pressure on Fedor to fight in the UFC is just like collecting an unpaid bail. I support the activist media campaign agaisnt Fedor.

    30 millions for 6 fights is a pretty good guess though it should be cited as a guess.

  39. kjh says:

    “Unless Meltzer feels like publishing whatever communication he received from UFC, I’m still reluctant to say that the information AS RELEASED BY CARMICHAEL was the information that UFC intended to release.”


    Meltzer confirms in the latest Observer that the information as released by Carmichael was exactly the same as he received and was the information that UFC wanted out in the public domain. Here’s the key quote from Meltzer’s story on this issue:

    “Carmichael Dave, a Sacramento radio host who is close friends with Dana White, laid out what he was told was the offer UFC made Emelianenko. For what it’s worth, and this is not verifying the story as much as confirming this is the story UFC wanted out, but what he said were the exact same things we had been told earlier in the week.”

  40. Joey says:

    My problem is not with Fedor, but more with M1 — they’re leveraging Fedor to leech the UFC. Hate the UFC all you want, they’re the reason the majority of sites and blogs are around.

  41. Andrew Garvey says:

    The most hilarious thing I’ve read in a while is Zach asking why Fedor and his people would care what MMA writers think. Considering they didn’t want Belfort as an opponent because a poll at Sherdog (of all places) was negative on the idea, thats a pretty ridiculous thing to say.

  42. Alan Conceicao says:

    Hate the UFC all you want, they’re the reason the majority of sites and blogs are around.

    Who is hating the UFC here? Well, other than Ivan. They’re completely in the right to do this. Its the mouthbreathers who repeat this stuff that Zach and I are mocking.

  43. […] I wrote an article a couple of days ago about the intentions of what a lot of MMA writers and media types in regards to getting Fedor into […]


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