UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta was checking out the competition over the weekend when Juan Manuel Marquez KO’d Manny Pacquiao. Fertitta was quick to react to the business lesson learned yet whether the UFC actually applies this knowledge or not is a whole other story.
Outsiders looking in at the knockout heard around the world Saturday immediately noted the totality of the event. It wasn’t just a boxing knockout or a big upset. This was millions of dollars that hit the canvas with the Pac Man. The UFC owner knows all too well about these kinds of dollars when it comes to promoting fights and he quickly took to Twitter to comment on it.
“Gotta strike when the iron is hot boxing!Lost manny/Floyd 4ever.#gspvssilva #silvavsbones #superfights!” – @LorenzoFertitta
This isn’t just Lorenzo’s mindset. UFC president Dana White has ripped boxing for years for failing to pull off the biggest fight of this generation between Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao. White has called out Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum on several occasions for his inability to make the fight.
“(Pacquiao) and Floyd Mayweather need to cut the bulls*** and do the fight that everybody wants to see,” said White. “If there was ever a fight in history that should be fifty-fifty split, it’s this fight. Split the money, it’s a-f***in’-hundred million dollars or two hundred million — who knows what it’s gonna be? I think it’s gonna be the biggest pay-per-view ever, probably 2.6 million buys. Shut the f*** up and fight. Split the money. Just f***ing do it. People are tired of it.”
While what White and Fertitta are saying is 100% correct, there is only one problem. The UFC hasn’t been able to pull off their own superfights in years.
It is one thing to talk big and take shots at another business for failing to capitalize on opportunity, but it is another to do it when you have even less excuses at making those same mistakes. White and Fertitta have failed to pull off megafights between fighters in their own company! It isn’t as if they had to work with another promoter in the case of Golden Boy and Bob Arum. White and Fertitta theoretically should have a much easier making these fights yet they continue to fail to do it.
Even worse than failing to make the big fight is promoting it and promising it while failing to deliver. Nobody ever gave false expectations in boxing that Pac vs. Money was going to happen. Yet you had Dana White promising that Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva would happen, even going as far as naming a date and possible place. Now here we are a month later and the fight is neither signed or even close to coming to fruition. I’d say White looks a lot worse than Bob Arum in this case.
Speaking of Silva vs. GSP, I don’t think anyone even expected the fight before the UFC started talking about. Did any UFC fan really expect GSP to move out of the division? Why would you? Yet when you have the UFC president and owner start talking about this fight as a reality, fan’s expectations change when at the end of the day GSP was never coming out of the weight class anyway. The UFC has nobody to blame but themselves for even putting this fight into the mindset of its fans.
In boxing we are only talking about one fight. In the UFC there have been a handful of huge fights that the company had a chance to sign and never pulled off. Quite frankly the only real mega fight in my mind they pulled off was the last GSP vs. BJ Penn fight. That was years ago and here we are today with more UFC cards than you can keep track of yet they are unable to make these monster fights.
Say what you will about the circumstances but the UFC failed to close the door on what would have been the biggest fight in UFC history. Brock vs. Fedor was on the table in 2009 and at the end of the day Dana White couldn’t get a deal done. He can blame the “crazy Russians” for outrageous demands all he wants, yet at the end of the day isn’t it his job to get the fight signed? He doesn’t take into account any crazy demands Mayweather or Pacquiao may be making when he criticizes boxing. Letting that fight slip away is something that I think may be his biggest blunder ever as UFC president.
How about the inter-promotional Strikeforce fights he failed to capitalize on? Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, and Alistair Overeem all entered the UFC as Strikeforce champions. Instead of putting them immediately in with the champions, Dana got cute (although in the case of Diaz he tried). Would they have been fights on the level of Jones vs. Silva? No, but they would have had something a little more special and intriguing than the fights that the UFC had on the table at the time. He did it when Henderson came over from Pride FC and it was a big fight, yet failed to learn his own lesson.
Now that GSP vs. Silva is off the table, the UFC is left with only one real megafight. Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva is it. I wouldn’t put Cyborg Santos vs. Ronda Rousey, GSP vs. Nick Diaz, and Alistair Overeem vs. the UFC champion in the league of Jones vs. Silva, but they are even what I’d call special fights. Currently he is 0-4 on all of them. He can run around making grand promises that Silva vs. Jones is going to happen yet anyone with a clue can look at their schedules and see that even if it does come, it won’t be happening for a long time. Maybe it could have been booked for April or May, maybe it couldn’t have, but you’ll never know since Jones was signed to fight Chael Sonnen instead.
The UFC does a lot of great things but closing the deal on the big fight is not one of them. Making matters worse is White either purposely teasing his fans or living in a world of denial when he speaks about signing them. None of them appear to be anything more than talk on message boards at the moment and in all cases the blame rests with the UFC.
Maybe Lorenzo’s tweet was meant as a wakeup call to the camps of fighters like Jones, Silva, Rousey, Santos, and GSP? Regardless, you look like a fool when you start pointing fingers and blaming your competition for something you also have failed to do with multiple chances.
That iron is cooling off faster than you know it.
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