It’s no secret that the UFC loves controlling stuff, especially if that stuff has to do with the media. The L.A. Times has apparently had enough of it. Their Las Vegas blog, The Movable Buffet (get it?), took issue with the UFC’s strict rules following UFC 84 this weekend:
One local journalist who covered Saturday’s Ultimate Fighting Championship card at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena wrote me an e-mail, offering this impression: “UFC attempts to be more controlling than other sports. UFC sounds like it’s trying to hem in media.”
We were discussing his experience as well as the credential application that UFC demanded that I sign to be approved to cover the fight. The application specified everything from the trivial, forbidding my wearing certain clothes, to the ridiculous, controlling where and when I was allowed to write about the event forever more. In explaining this bizarre credential application that most would call not an application but a contract, UFC events manager Diann Brizzolara wrote me: “We have the right to protect our brand and how coverage taken from our events is disseminated.” Actually, UFC does not have that right to control “how coverage taken…is disseminated” at all. This rather unique privilege in fact is what the credential application is trying to give them a back door claim to having.
When you hear these stories about the UFC’s obsession with control, it makes you wonder what they’re so afraid of. Is it a holdover from the dark days when the “human cockfighting” label nearly drove them into extinction? Or is it just that the UFC is leery of the media in general, despite the fact that they need the media in the same way every pro sports organization does: it’s free advertising.
Whatever the cause, their media-phobia has certainly made an enemy of the L.A. Times’ Movable Buffet, which even goes so far as to predict impending doom for the UFC.
And, of course, network fights on CBS are likely to get many more viewers than pay-for-view and cable fights. That would begin to make UFC obsolete even as it approaches mainstream status. When I first wrote about a UFC fight in 2006 that league was bringing unprecedented attention to mixed martial arts. But maybe now it is time for the next big sensation. I wonder if EliteXC requires select press to sign a credential application?
As a matter of fact, they don’t. Will that be enough to put them out in front of the UFC? I kind of doubt it.