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« | Home | »

The ridiculous media criticism Sarah Kaufman is facing is largely manufactured outrage

By Zach Arnold | July 27, 2010

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Jake Rossen summarizes what’s going on as far as Sarah’s complaints about the way Strikeforce has been promoting her. (Jonathan Snowden got the ball rolling on this topic with this article and from there I’ve dealt with Bleacher Report-types pushing the angle further.) She had a fight in San Jose that was placed in a main event slot. It was late, fans weren’t interested in watching the fight, and so the audience started leaving. Stinkers happen occasionally. It’s MMA.

So, when she was kept by the promotion via the dreaded champion’s clause (because she’s their 135-pound champion), they ended up booking her against Roxy Modafferi in the semi-main event slot of a Strikeforce Challengers show that reportedly struggled to draw 2,500 in Everett, Washington. (And by the way, anyone who puts heat on the fighters for not drawing on the Challenger’s shows should take a good look at what kind of business promotion there is for these events.)

What Strikeforce did was obvious. They were afraid that the Everett crowd would bail on her fight. Boring = fans leaving. Women = not everyone’s a fan. So, they put two and two together and decided to make the title fight the semi-main event.

Kaufman, understandably, was pissed. Why should a title fight not be the main event? In many ways, her argument was completely valid and showed the difficulties Strikeforce has in dealing with their titles. The titles are largely meaningless to the public and the value of the titles is more or less, at this point, about the champion’s clause to keep talent from leaving.

Sarah ended up winning her fight with a spectacular finish. It made the highlights on ESPN. She is starting to get her name out there. She stated her demand to fight on Strikeforce main cards. Who came blame her? The fans didn’t.

Apparently the media, however, in large part is not happy with her attitude. Memo to those criticizing her with largely manufactured outrage — who else is going to promote her if the promotion she works for isn’t doing a good enough job promoting her or themselves?

Let’s call it for what it is — Sarah did something that other fighters in the promotion have done (promoted themselves) and yet she gets heat for it while everyone else who goes into business for themselves in Strikeforce gets a shrug of the shoulders from beat writers. She doesn’t have a contract like Dan Henderson and making a living at a business that requires 100% devotion means you have to scratch and claw to get every dollar you can make. Whether that’s through sponsorships, commercials, fight salary, or whatever the revenue vehicle may be, she’s got to make a living.

So why the heat against Sarah by writers, which is a completely different reaction to the supportive response from fans? It’s a melting pot of reasons. First, it’s a dry news cycle. Writers are looking for material. Second, she’s a woman and there’s plenty of vocal fans who are not on the female MMA bandwagon. Third, her predicament with Strikeforce highlights a lot of the problems the promotion is currently struggling to find answers to. Put this all together and you end up with shrieking online posts saying she should know her place and shut up.

Which is why Sarah’s fight with Roxy drawing the highest ratings of any fight on the show (a reported 254,000 viewers) is the perfect comeback to the largely manufactured outrage being penned at this point. Sarah’s made the most of her opportunity and now she’s going to push forward. Good for her.

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

31 Responses to “The ridiculous media criticism Sarah Kaufman is facing is largely manufactured outrage”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    What is more laughable is people making a big deal about these ratings and putting a positive spin on them.

    1. The show averaged less then 200,000 fans. The complete lack of progress of Strikeforce on Showtime is bad.

    2. The ratings dipping after the title fight has more to do with the UFC effect then anything else. MMA fans have been conditioned for YEARS to watch title fights last. Anytime a non-title fight is shown afterwards, it is from the prelims and most fans know not to care as much.

    “What Strikeforce did was obvious. They were afraid that the Everett crowd would bail on her fight. Boring = fans leaving.”

    The UFC has not put Anderson Silva under a non-title fight yet. He deserves to be. But they still treat their champions the proper way. Strikeforce does not. This has been proven time and time again. Not only do they throw them off the main event, they also force them to be on challenger shows…. Which is basically telling fans that they think of world championship female fighting at the same level as up & coming male fighters.

    I’m not saying they are wrong in that assessment. Female fighting is horrible. But if they are selling those fights, they need to do a better job at selling them. Putting them off the main event on a challenger series is a bad idea.

    The real outrage from the Kaufman situation is their use of the championship clause without any remote attempt at negotiating with the fighter to come to new terms first. People complain about the UFC’s Championship clause 10 times more then they do SF’s…. But the UFC has never used their’s. They come to terms with fighters and get contract extensions first. Which really is the true nature of the championship clause…. Which is a last line of defense if all else fails. Sadly, SF uses it as a first line of defense and doesn’t give their fighter a proper voice at the negotiation table. That is just flat out wrong.

    • Jonathan says:

      Of courser 45 Huddle hates it.

      How is the different from every other post that you have made about Strikeforce. 45, you have trashed women’s MMA many times over, and here, you trash how Strikeforce is handling putting her in he second to last fight spot. In all reality, you would have bashed Strikeforce and company no matter if that fight was the main event or first fight of the evening. This is how it played out, so this is what you are going to trash.

      And I LOVE the comparisons to the UFC. Every time you post that, you experience a little “I win” moment that you point out the fact that Strikeforce is not as good as the UFC? Is that what you do to get your jollies off, because you sure as hell do it a lot. I do not think that anyone who comes to this site confuses the UFC and the Strikeforce. But thank you putting out the differences, when all you are really doing is shilling for the UFC. Have you considered just not watching Strikeforce and not commenting on it and basically just pretending it does not exist? You are treat it like shit…I mean, they could put on the fight of the year, hell, EVENT of the year, and you would still trash it. So why not just pretend it does not exist and that the UFC is the only fight org in the world. You’d probably enjoy this site and everything else a lot more.

      And as for the article;

      Why is Sarah Kaufman THAT upset about being 2nd to last fight of the night? It is not like she was on a un-aired prelim slot.

      Fighters should not complain about getting fights, especially against top-flight talent like Roxanne.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        You need to get a life and stop stalking me.

        My points are all valid. The UFC comparisons make sense in this context because people are already use to how title belts are placed on cards. Strikeforce moving away from this model obviously hurt them in their ratings.

        And if the UfC used their title clause like SF does, people would be bashing them to the end of time. But because it’s SF, people don’t care or make excuses.

        Now, get a grip on reality, post without the bashing, and people will take your posts a little more seriously.

        • Steve4192 says:

          Your point about the ratings of Challengers events not making any progress was not valid at all.

          When Strikeforce started out on Showtime, Challengers events were lucky to draw 100K viewers. They have now had three or four in a row draw 200K or better. They are making a ton of progress with B show. It’s drawing almost as well as their much more expensive A shows, which kind of begs the question of why they are paying all those fat salaries for their big events when they can draw the same ratings with fighters making $3000/$3000.

        • Jonathan says:

          I do not care whether or other people take my posts as valid or not. If you would stop shilling for the UFC and bashing everything in that is posted on this fight that is not UFC-related, then everything would be for the better. But instead, you prepare these big long posts about why Strikeforce/Bellator/Japan sucks because they are not the UFC. If you had only said it once, then it would have been a valid topic of discussion. But you continually doing it after each and every topic that Zach posts that has to do with anything NOT the UFC.

          The UFC is an organization that definitely has its act together. I like to watch their fights, but there are some things that I disapprove of, just like there are things that I disapprove of in Strikeforce, but I do not endlessly write post after post telling people why I think that they suck.

          But you do. And as long as you do, I will continue to counter your nonsense. I really wish that you would give it a break. And if you do, I would. Heck, I would not even mind if you just stopped being so “anti” everything that is not the UFC. I know that I have said this to you before. Many times in fact, but you always come back with the same thing. You and I and everyone who reads this site knows that Strikeforce does not have their act together like the UFC does. That is one thing, but completely bashing them with every single post that you make, even when others are offering them praise, is trolling at its finest.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Steve4192,

          But this show didn’t do 200,000 viewers. It was short of that. And when did 200,000 become anything even remotely as a success indicator? Strikeforce shows in general have not made a dent in the MMA landscape despite being given 18 months. In fact, one could say they are currently worse off now they they were when they signed with Showtime over 18 months ago.

          And I didn’t say Challenger shows weren’t showing progress. I said: “The complete lack of progress of Strikeforce on Showtime is bad.” That includes the challenger and regular shows…. As well as their failure to get on PPV. Strikeforce is not showing gains. They are running in a big circle with some shows doing slightly better and some show doing slightly worse. But there is no overall upward growth of the company. And they have already exhausted CBS as a likely option, which means they are really at a negative at this point.

          There is no positive spin to these ratings. Some MMA fans try desperately to do so, but less then 200,000 is still less then 200,000. And that isn’t very good.

      • Chuck says:

        UFC used their champion’s clause once…..on BJ Penn years ago after he beat Matt Hughes. That’s when Penn took UFC to court over it so he can go to K-1.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          True. I was speaking of post TUF 1 UFC….. A UFC where they have the money to pay the stars. It hasn’t been any sort of issue. No champion has come close to triggering it….

        • smoogy says:

          They used the champion’s clause to keep Randy from stepping away from the title the second time he peaced out of the UFC.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          No they didn’t. He had fights left on his contract. The championship clause wasn’t even in play at the time of the issue because he wasn’t done with the remainder of his fights.

      • Alexander Shaw says:

        LOL Can Huddle go one minute without mentioning or making comparisons to UFC. This is why some people dont like talking MMA with these types of fans.

    • smoogy says:

      Challengers ratings are significantly up year-over-year, and lately they did a good number by piggybacking that Lindland/Casey card onto the Overeem/Rogers card. How dare anyone try to spin that positively! Don’t they know there is a moratorium on noting positive things about Strikeforce???

  2. MiddleEasy says:

    GREAT article.

  3. Coyote says:

    At least they do the same (well or bad) on the ratings, that means they have an secure audience.

    Strikeforce, is doing teir stuff, bad or well they are doing slowly. I think when Bellator go off, Strikeforce can jump over all the fighters they leave without home.

    Tell me crazy, but UFCs making a “lack of figthers” scene. Beacuse they have all them all, and now they are sign any one with a decent record, to get trash over their files.

    The most notorius case for me, is Stanislav Nedkov and Carlos Vemola. Both guys are not really tested and they already on the UFC. I think UFC is doing this to leave Strikeforce, Dream, etc… no options.

    And Sarah, is ok you want a slot on the main card’s, but she cant complaint beacuse Strikeforce is the only org who take womans MMA on their list. Bad, but the only.

    Ps:

    Sarah says in a Interview after the show she can take Cris “Cyborg”, if she still complaints about her status, Strikeforce can give what she wants.

  4. […] some media have taken shots at Canadian Women’s MMA phenom Sarah Kaufmann, Zach Arnold at Fight Opinion has his own views, which paint a separate and clearer picture for the current Strikeforce […]

  5. Andrew Garvey says:

    Interesting that Zach claims the criticism of Kaufman is ‘manufactured outrage’ – trust me, there was nothing manufactured about the very real, very spontaneous and severe annoyance I personally felt every time she whinged, bitched and complained about being on a Challengers show instead of a ‘major’ Strikeforce event. I found her irritating beyond belief and I’m sure plenty of other people felt the same way. How is that ‘manufactured’?

    • Mark says:

      I think “manufactured” is the wrong word for it, because it’s not possible to know from someone’s writings if they really feel that way or not. But it’s certainly hypocritical that she’s being called out on it and a bajillion other MMA fighters from every promotion past and present have publicly complained about their fight status and/or star-standing in the company not being good enough and have gotten a pass more or less (unless the criticism was directed as UFC and of course it got the kneejerk “STOP SAYING MEAN THINGS ABOUT DANA~!” reaction.)

      Just sticking with Strikeforce Challengers for an example, Matt Lindland was pissed about being on that show since it is only promoted as the show for n00bs and his status deserved a major show slot and nobody called him unprofessional for saying that.

      She’s right to be a little peeved. The Women’s division is the one thing they have that UFC doesn’t to make themselves stand out and they’re just not interested at all in it except feeling obligated to put Cyborg on the main card twice a year. This was guaranteed to be a good fight (and was a good fight) and they couldn’t have held off on it for the next major show?

  6. Matthew says:

    The difference to me between Shara and the other fighters on the card is she is one of their champions. I that wemons MMA is not very big but SF is not going to help grow the sport if they put title fights on showtime.

    If any other champion on the roster were to be put on a challengers card there would be a big stink about it. Just because she is a womens MMA fighter not named Chris Cyborg people dont care. This is not all SF fault. It is mainly the fact the womens MMA is not yet fully accepted by the main stream but SF being the only major promotion should try and help womens MMA grow by showing that they care enough about the womens title’s that they put them on real SF cards. Then again I guess SF would have to pretend they care about titles.

  7. sammy says:

    First off, I agree that Kaufman needs to keep her mouth shut about being on a main fight card. Those cards are presumably for the upper-echelon fighters within Strikeforce’s ranks. While i know this rule is not always followed, and less-than-impressive fighters make their way on to these main cards, the fact of the matter remains that Kaufman is not an upper echelon fighter. Just because she was handed a title, and because she is among the best of the female fighters, does not make her an elite fighter by any means. I’d rather watch any man fight than her fight another woman. And the majority of fans agree with me. Period.

    Second of all, I agree that 45Huddle is nothing more than a UFC fanboy who has never uttered an anti-UFC opinion. He sprinkles minor praises on other promotions, just so he can reference those when people criticize his one-sided “opinions.”

  8. There’s some solid crazy in these posts. Strikeforce is a failure because they’ve brought up the viewership for Challengers events to stunningly high levels for a third rate show? Sarah Kaufman is relevant? UFC signs untested prospects “to ruin their record and hurt Strikeforce and Bellator”? Woah.

  9. Alex Sean says:

    I’m sorry but if people are operating under the mindset that the most important thing to a fighter in America in 2010 is fighting the best competition, they are completely delusional. At the end of the day this is a business that is no different than any other, the bottom line is and will continue to be to be able to, at the very least, make a living. Sarah Kaufman being buried on a mid-card spot on a mid-card show affects that bottom line. People expect fighters to sit around and be happy so long as they’re facing tough, credible opponents. Well who’s paying for their training? Who’s paying for their diet? Who’s paying for their travel expenses? Who’s paying for their gear? It certainly isn’t the people criticizing her for speaking out on this. She’s the one who has to carry the financial burden.

    Now this would be one thing if she were a mid-level fighter who couldn’t be a draw. But we’re talking about one of this company’s divisional champions who has charisma, can finish fights, is undefeated, is facing the top competition, and (as is usually a factor in women’s MMA) is a pretty face that they can put on posters. We’ve seen with Carana/Cyborg that women can be drawing cards in MMA. There’s not a single male fighter in Strikeforce that has proven to be as bankable as that fight was. So why isn’t Sarah Kaufman being promoted while King Mo and Jake Shields headline cards and the subsequent sponsorship benefits of doing so?

    Sarah Kaufman has absolutely every reason to be frustrated about this and the fact that people are trying to criticize her is just a sign of the lack of respect women get in our culture. Jake Shields gets handed two pivotal CBS spots against top opponents, sucks their ratings into a black hole, gets involved in a ridiculous post-fight brawl right after, and appears on a rival company’s PPV a week later and no one outside of a couple of people spoke about the classlessness of his actions. Sarah Kaufman, meanwhile, is being unreasonable. If you don’t see a double standard there then you need to get your eyes checked.

    • Robert Poole says:

      This is easily the best comment in the thread. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you.

      Rp

    • edub says:

      Just one thing:

      “and (as is usually a factor in women’s MMA) is a pretty face that they can put on posters.”

      Now that is funny.

      None of the women on top right now are getting promoted because they simply are not that hot. That fight did so well because Gina was in it. Cyborg’s fights have done pretty crumy in the ratings since then. The only female fighters that will become stars in MMA are ones that can be marketed on their looks: IE.. Gina carano, Kerry Vera, Michelle Waterson, Erin Toughill, Marloes Coenen(kinda), Miesha Tate, Zoila Frausto. That might be a ridiculous he-man woman hater statement, but the numbers speak for themselves…

  10. Fightlinker says:

    I love how people say “This is a business” to defend Strikeforce when it’s their terrible business decisions that have us all here mocking them. It’s GOOD BUSINESS to run divisions in a sane manner to move prospects and contenders up towards a belt that FUCKING MATTERS.

    • There’s just one problem: 135 lb fighters don’t matter to the public. Not the even the men. No one cares about them. Kaufman has zero leverage here because there isn’t a game in town other than Strikeforce. Where is she going to go? Bellator? Shark Fights? Don’t make me laugh.

  11. sammy says:

    The complaints about Kaufman represent a lack of respect for women in our culture???

    If she wants to be “respected” (ie, be treated equally to a man), then her protestations become even more absurd.

    If we put male and female fighters on the same scale, guess what? Sarah Kaufman is down pretty damn low on that scale. Its only by treating her unequally that she is even getting on any televised card at all!!

  12. Demtor says:

    It’s women’s MMA… it should be buried on the undercard, for at least 5 years. Maybe then we’ll see some real talent develop as they attempt to catch up to the men. One cyborg Brazilian woman, does not make up for the rest of the sloppy, weak, half-pints.

    • Matthew says:

      One issue is how is the sport of womens MMA suposed to grow if it is burried in the undercard. Obviously you do not like womens MMA and there are a lot of people out there that don’t like/understand it. They want to see women carying the round number vs fighting.

      If you want womens MMA to grow and get better you have to promote it. Other wise it will just fail or remain as it is.

      • Its a chicken or egg situation for a lot of people, but the problem is that historically, there have never been chickens (popular women’s sports with crossover fanbases from male competition). Not every women’s fighter is going to be Gina Carano.

  13. […] Fight Opinion wasn’t happy with the prefight criticism Kaufman got for complaining about exposure: She stated her demand to fight on Strikeforce main cards. Who came blame her? The fans didn’t. […]

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