(Round 5′s new Talking Dana White action figure says eight phrases. All of them are “Fuck you.” / Photo courtesy of liverkick.)
The rules of Make It/Take It are simple. Two MMA writers face off on opposite sides of a hot-button topic, and make their case to the Potato Nation. The “winning” writer — based on number of votes cast in the poll on page 3 — returns next time to battle a different MMA pundit.
This week, “Writer X” from Parts Unknown (aka, a friend of ours from a different site who has chosen to remain anonymous*) goes up against CagePotato’s own Ben Goldstein. Read on, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section…
* No, it’s not Maggie Hendricks. Or Chad Dundas.
“The UFC Needs a Businessman at the Helm, Not a Character”
By Writer X
Dana White and the Fertitta brothers have taken a sport that was once referred to as “human cockfighting” and built it into a business worth billions of dollars and for that they should be commended.
On its website, the UFC claims that it is the fastest growing sports organization in the world and while that very well be 100 percent true, is there really that much competition out there for them? NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, FIFA, these are all established organizations that have put in their time and gone through their growing pains. They all have been where the UFC is now.
The dilemma the UFC now faces is how does it grow beyond a niche sport into a major league sport like those mentioned above? To start, the promotion needs to move Dana White out of the spotlight and replace him with a new president that is more acceptable to the masses.
I know that the idea of getting rid of the guy that has become the face of the UFC may seem blasphemous to some of you. I get it, you love him, he’s just like you, he curses, he says what’s on his mind, he’s a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy.
White’s also the president of a billion dollar business. He’s a millionaire flying around the world in a private jet. Don’t let the image fool you, because it’s just that, a carefully crafted image. White knows what his key demographic of 18-34 year-old males wants and he delivers, tied up in a nice “Dickhouse” tee and jeans.
The problem is that key demographic is really all the UFC has to hang their hats on. Outside of the 18-34 year old males, you’ll be hard pressed to find a huge number of people that are MMA fans. Make no mistake, the UFC wants to make inroads into those other demographics; they have to, or they will continue to stagnate.
That’s right, the UFC is stagnating. The promotion can talk about the growth of the sport all they want, but the numbers in pay-per-views tell another story. According to the folks over at MMAPayout.com Blue Book, UFC 57 back in February 2006 brought in 400,000 PPV buys, fast forward to UFC 128 in March 2011 and the number is 445,000. So, where’s the growth?
Sure, there have been a couple 1 million-plus PPV events, but the average for PPV buys between UFC 57 and UFC 128 is actually 498,704. So, I ask you, where is the growth that White and the UFC speak about?
Most of the UFC’s income comes from these PPV buys. If they have remained stagnant over the past five years, can they really claim true growth?
If the UFC wants to truly grow and average more than a million PPV buys per event, they are going to need to keep the key demographic of the 18-34 year old male and make some serious inroads into other age brackets and to do that, they will need to shed Dana White, or move him to less of a frontline role.
Two recent incidents made me come to the conclusion that while White is not hurting the growth of the UFC, he surely is not helping it. The first was the Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson interview with Karyn Bryant following Jackson’s win over Matt Hamill at UFC 130.
Jackson made some joking comments that the part Jamaican Bryant was, “Jamaican me horny,” and he then went on to make another joke about “motorboating” her. After the interview, Bryant said she was not offended by Jackson’s antics and while that’s nice, it doesn’t make the actions excusable or appropriate for any athlete, yes, even an athlete that makes his living inside a cage.
I’ve heard that excuse bandied about; the “boys will be boys” talk, the “when did the world become so PC” lines and you know what, they all ring hollow. White and the UFC brass are trying to grow the sport and actions like Jackson’s don’t allow that. Sure the demographic likes it and thinks it’s funny, but what about the people outside that group? Please don’t tell me in one breath that they don’t matter and then tell me you want to grow the sport, it’s one or the other folks, you can’t grow if you stay in the same fish tank.
The second incident occurred when UFC commentator Joe Rogan called Yahoo.com writer Maggie Hendricks take on the Jackson incident “cunty.” Rogan later apologized saying he meant the word as another word for “bitchy.”
In all of this, one voice was absent and that was the voice of Dana White. [Ed. note: This column was written before the release of White's brief statement on the matter.]
Had one of the NFL’s start players done what Jackson did in a post game interview would Roger Goodell have been silent? If Terry Bradshaw had called a print reporter, “cunty” would there have been no outcry? The answer is no and no, so why the silence from the UFC? Is White afraid to be seen as politically correct by his minions in the 18-34 age group?
A stronger president would have dealt with both men; hell, with a stronger president neither incident would have taken place for fear of what the repercussions would be. White will never be the guy to deal with behaviour like this and until someone comes in that will, the UFC will be a niche sport and the late night shows will repeat incidents such as Jackson’s performance in their gag reels and the rest of the world, the ones that could help the UFC grow, will laugh and shake their heads and never purchase a PPV event.
Another way to tell that the sport is a niche sport under White is to take a look at where MMA ranks on websites such as ESPN. MMA sits in the “more sports” tab three notches below “Soccer (US)” and three notches above “High Schools.” Growing sport? Nice try.
The UFC needs a businessman at the helm, not a character. White can get on the microphone and stand in front of his fans and sing the praises of his organization and how it is growing quickly, but until he pursues active growth outside of the 18-34 male demographic his words of being the biggest sport in the world are nothing more than hyperbole.
With Dana White at the helm the UFC will never grow to its full potential.
HIT THE ‘NEXT PAGE’ LINK FOR THE HOME-TEAM RESPONSE