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Fox Sports: "Zach Arnold's Fight Opinion site is one of the best spots on the Web for thought-provoking MMA pieces."

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Eddie Goldman: What’s the coded message the Fox Sports boss sent about boxing & ufc?

By Zach Arnold | August 23, 2011

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Earlier, we posted this item about Lorenzo Fertitta’s comments from last Thursday’s press conference in Los Angeles at Fox Sports HQ.

(For a complete summary of what was said at the presser, check out this recap by William Holmes at Boxing Insider.)

Gary Andrew Poole at The Atlantic summarized the new UFC/Fox deal in this manner:

Whatever you think of mixed martial arts (and it is actually, in the opinion of many including me, safer than boxing), blood sports have always done well in poor economic times, and the UFC seems to be the sport for our downtrodden era.

If there was any doubt about the power of Fox branding, Dana White’s brief appearance this morning on Fox & Friends on the Fox News Channel sent a very loud & clear message. White was introduced while footage of a Forrest Griffin aired on screen with the graphic, “knockout jobs plan” and how President Obama could learn from the UFC. During the course of three minutes, the network aired three different graphics on-screen with headlines such as:

By the way, Dana White says that his issues with ESPN have been ‘resolved’ only a few days after he publicly said ‘fuck ESPN.’

Which leads us to some discussion on Eddie Goldman’s radio show recently about UFC’s desire to be covered and presented on television like a mainstream sport. Given all of the scandals right now in the major sports, UFC getting pushed as a shiny new toy in the sports landscape is providing some interesting contrasts. Eddie starts out by playing a quote from last Thursday’s presser in which Fox Sports boss David Hill is talking about how watching The Ultimate Fighter changed his mind on liking the UFC.

“My reservations were back in 2001 and the initial conversation that I was having with Lorenzo and then I saw what was happening and the key thing was the reference between boxing being one-dimensional and this being three-dimensional and I changed my mind.

“It was that program, it was watching that show. It was probably more enjoyable on a visceral and cerebral level than any kind of like martial art sports I’ve ever seen, I thought it was fantastic. You get to know through the show the athletes and they’re a different breed than the boxers that I’ve known over the years. They’re intelligent, they’re smart, they’re committed. It’s an entirely different world than what I grew up in doing boxing like I said when pterodactyls’ the Earth.”

Which led to this response from Eddie Goldman:

“If you listen to what this guy said, why he likes MMA better than boxing, he finds The Ultimate Fighter such an enjoyable show. In other words, I guess he liked the pissing and getting drunk and all of that. In particular he says the MMA fighters are a different breed from boxers. Well, that’s an interesting comment and could be a code word for a lot more.

“He says, yeah, they’re more intelligent, they’re smarter, they’re more committed. What boxers does he know? What is this guy actually talking about? Is he going to say that if there were a debate between Wladimir Klitschko and Brock Lesnar that the MMA guy is more intelligent? If there were a discussion between Bernard Hopkins and Chael Sonnen that the MMA guy is smarter? If there were training that so many of these MMA guys are more committed than Floyd Mayweather Jr. who has played a pioneering role in raising the issue of Performance Enhancing Drugs in the sport of boxing, what is this guy talking about?

“In fact, this statement was so disgusting, I sent it to Dr. Margaret Goodman, who of course is a practicing neurologist in Las Vegas, the former head of the Medical Advisory Board of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, former long time ringside physician and one of the staunchest fighters for fighter safety, and this is her reply to David Hill:

“I am shocked and dismayed at such derogatory statements from the chairman of Fox Sports, which has hosted and continues to host boxing events. Anyone who has worked with boxers understands the great amount of intelligence, fearlessness, heart, and devotion it takes to step into a boxing ring. For someone to make such comments insults every boxer, including the great champions of the past and everyone who works in the sport.”

“I think that’s a great statement and I think there’s something else going on, too, in terms of the demographics, in terms of this different breed that they’re looking at and it’s even reflected in who they invited on the podium from the UFC of the UFC fighters. There were four UFC fighters on the podium but only two of their champions. They had Rashad Evans, the former Light Heavyweight champion. Chuck Liddell, of course, who held the title and is now retired. Frankie Edgar and Georges St. Pierre. Why did they have only these two champions and these four guys? Three of them are college-educated former wrestlers.

“Let’s look at the other champions that were not invited there for one reason or another. The UFC Heavyweight champion is Cain Velasquez, a Mexican-American. He lives in California. He was not invited. The 205 Light Heavyweight champion is Jon Jones. He’s African-American. He was not invited. The Middleweight champion, 185 pounds, is Anderson Silva who Dana White says is the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He was not invited. The Welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre, who is from Quebec was invited as was the 155 pound champion Frankie Edgar. But Jose Aldo, the Brazilian 145 pound champion, he was not there nor was the 135 pound champion, the Bantamweight division in MMA, Dominick Cruz (from San Diego). According to the UFC.com profile of Dominick Cruz, he never went to college and he grew up in Tucson, Arizona in a trailer with his mother and brother and it says he was kicked out of his home at age 19 for hosting a house party but he says the experience was ‘the greatest thing that ever happened to me’ because it forced him to become a man. But they didn’t have Dominick Cruz there.

“You’re going to tell me that’s not a compelling story? You’re going to tell me what Anderson Silva went through or Jose Aldo or Cain Velasquez or any of these other guys went through are not compelling stories? And yet you invite your former college wrestlers at various state schools, Liddell at Cal Poly, Rashad Evans at Michigan State, and Frankie Edgar at Clarion, none of them by the way were All-Americans although they were Division I wrestlers. You’re going to tell me that these guys have more compelling stories than the boxers, the people that have had to overcome all sorts of incredible obstacles in their life? Floyd Mayweather Jr. with his dysfunctional family, Bernard Hopkins who didn’t graduate with a degree in anything except from Graterford penitentiary in Pennsylvania and has never been back since? You’re going to tell me that the stories of so many of the great Mexican fighters from the veteran Juan Manuel Marquez to the up-and-coming star Canelo Saul Alvarez are not compelling stories?

“It looks like for Mr. Hill’s taste and for those at Fox Sports there are too many Black and Brown skins in the sport of boxing. And even though you have such a diversity in the UFC champions they were pretty selective in terms of who was invited. I really do not think this was just some coincidence. So, this is the way MMA is going to be positioned on Fox Sports — as an elitist, predominantly White sport with a sprinkling of African-American and Latino athletes to entertain a largely upscale, young, uneducated, lover-of-trash-talking, White suburban male audience. This is what mainstream sports is catering to today. This is what is happening.”

For those interested in the reaction from the boxing world about UFC’s new deal with Fox, check out Kevin Iole’s new article at Yahoo discussing the war of words between UFC & Top Rank.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 25 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

25 Responses to “Eddie Goldman: What’s the coded message the Fox Sports boss sent about boxing & ufc?”

  1. bundt says:

    Did Dana really just get accused of being a racist? Hold on let me look in my crystal ball and see why champions who are training for fights in other countries might not have been able to attend a press conference at the fox studio

  2. TomK says:

    And don’t even get me started on the clear French-Canadian bias they have. 25% of the fighters there were from Quebec. What does Fox Sports have against English speaking Canadians?

  3. edub says:

    Holy shit, earthquake just hit VA. Car shook a little bit while I was driving.

  4. Norm says:

    Hmm, must be a slow news day in the world of MMA.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    I’m willing to give The Ultimate Fighter a 2nd chance for a few reasons:

    1) Live fights.

    2) SpikeTV Executives will no longer be helping to pick the fighters on the roster. Not sure how much it will change things, but I’m willing to see….

    3) Much less competition out there right now, so the chances of having a more loaded roster is increasing….

  6. Stel says:

    Looks like hill saw how mma can be marketed to the lowest common denominator.

  7. Chromium says:

    Honestly I did think it was odd that Velasquez and particularly Jon Jones weren’t there to help represent the UFC.

    I’d give Zuffa the benefit of the doubt though, I think they’ve earned it. If you look at their roster, their list of Champions, their list of #1 Contenders, and their last few years in general, I don’t see any great conspiracy of racial prejudice. If someone sees otherwise, go ahead and point it out.

    • Chromium says:

      Thinking about it a bit though, it may have been Fox’s choice which UFC fighters to fly in, which is a bit more troubling.

    • edub says:

      I have a hard time giving any credence to the accusation.

      Chuck Liddell was the face of the company for a long time, and is still an integral part of public relations still. Rashad Evans is the #1 contender for the LHW belt, seems pretty intelligent (even if I don’t agree with somethings he says), and (something that appears to be glossed over) he’s black. Frankie Edgar has a fight coming up in a couple months, and is one of their lower draws as a UFC champion. GSP is the most marketable athlete in the UFC.

      They could have substituted Frankie or Rashad, but I don’t see how racism played a part in picking those two (even with his pained explanation).

      • kd says:

        Anyone who follows the UFC knows that they actually exaggerate how Mexican Cain is.

        • edub says:

          Is he not of Mexican heritage?

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          He’s Mexican-American, which is very much different from being Mexican. This doesn’t mean he can’t get a fanbase (see also: Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas) but he’ll never become a big star who brings MMA to prominence south of the border and frankly I’d be surprised if he changes the dynamics of the fanbase watching north of it either.

        • edub says:

          Alan- But that’s kind of what I was getting at. Guys like De La Hoya and carbajal weren’t “Mexicans” technically either.

      • fd2 says:

        Rashad has been doing some training at the Renzo Gracie academy in NYC, as has GSP and of course Frankie is local. By far the simplest explanation for who they picked is who happened to be in New York at the time.

    • Steve4192 says:

      If anything, the guy who has been screwed the worst (in terms of not getting a shot at the title) is a white, college educated wrestler by the name of Jon Fitch.

  8. Light23 says:

    Fox and Dana are clearly showing their homophobic tendencies by not inviting Dennis Hallman and his speedos.

    He should’ve replaced Joe Rogan as the one leading the broadcast.

  9. Jason Harris says:

    Why is it everything I’ve ever heard from this Goldman guy is pure garbage?

    Let’s pick traits from the hundreds of fighters who weren’t at this press conference and declare UFC is racist for everyone they didn’t invite. That is the stupidest thing I’ve read in a few days. I’m not surprised this idiot is spouting this garbage, but usually this site is above giving stupidity of that level a platform.

  10. Steve4192 says:

    LOL at Eddie projecting his liberal white guilt onto others.

    It’s hard to take anything that guy says about Zuffa seriously.

    After the Strikeforce buyout, he melted down on the Team Takeover forums, repeatedly writing ‘FUCK ZUFFA’ in his posts. Even now he refuses to call the UFC by it’s proper name, choosing to scramble the acronym and refer to it as the ‘FUC’. He is incapable of being rational when it comes to all matters Zuffa. I used to have respect for Eddie, but now he is just a bitter old man pushing an agenda.

  11. Chris says:

    No problems on my end with Eddie Goldman. I just think it’s sad when people become so defensive regarding anyone who brings up issues of race in MMA. To crap all over his opinions is pretty much taking the easy way out.

    • edub says:

      …Or pointing out the obvious bias he has against Zuffa. Nobody became defensive of anything.

    • Jason Harris says:

      No matter who wrote the article, the entire premise is stupid. Why no Japanese fighters are the presser? UFC has a Chinese fighter, why wasn’t he there? Hey wait, Dong Hyun Kim was left at home too…obviously UFC is sending a CLEAR message. NO ASIANS ALLOWED. Let’s pick any trait we want from the entire UFC roster that isn’t represented by 3 random guys, and declare it racist. Why wasn’t Brock Lesnar there? UFC hates guys who hunt!

      Add to that the fact that Goldman’s level of quality is that of a crappy troll commenter on the UG, and the whole thing is straight up ridiculous.

  12. mness says:

    Why does eddie still have an outlet to write this crap?He’s been jealous of the UFC for years just like the person wrote earlier ever since SEG sold the UFC to ZUFFA,goldman and his other internet radio buddy who’s name thank god escapes me (maybe one of you guys know the friend of his that also can’t go 5 mins without insulting the UFC and ZUFFA.

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