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Taking a Page Out of ESPN’s Playbook, CBS Sports Calls Out Zuffa for ‘Bullying Tactics’ and So-Called Monopoly

You can likely add CBS Sports to the growing list of media outlets on the outside looking in at the boys club that is granted media access to UFC and Strikeforce events after publishing a scathing editorial today. The piece, entitled, “Calling out UFC is a losing fight, but it’s time to step into the cage,” ironically, focused on Zuffa’s heavy-handed press bans handed out when stories such as his get published and the disparity between the company’s gross revenues and total yearly fighter salaries.

As the writer Gregg Doyel, who admits to being a relatively new fan and reporter of the sport mentions, he is hopeful that things don’t change between him and Dana since he has been approved for a press pass for the next Strikeforce show and is remaining optimistic that he’ll still receive his promised media credentials. Take it from us, it ain’t gonna happen.

Although we applaud a reporter who isn’t afraid to exercise his or her right to freedom of speech and the press at the risk of ruffling a few feathers, expecting that writing an open letter to Zuffa mostly based on hearsay and conjecture in which you chastise its business practices isn’t going to have your cageside seat to shows taken away in the future is foolhardy. Especially when posting crude snapshots of one of the company’s employees from a magazine will get you banned for life.

The rules are simple: Sites that toe the line are allowed on the court to play the game, at least until they run afoul.

The UFC is possibly the only sports league that uses a reward and punishment system to ensure that unsavory stories aren’t written about the company or its athletes, but there isn’t anything you can do when you’ve been given a yellow card by the organization, so its rare to see the Hunts, Gross’, Goldmans and Doyels who are willing to risk losing their seat at the adult table in return for sitting on their scruples, which makes it more respectable when it does happen.

Rarely will you see “mainstream” MMA outlets report on stories that may cast Zuffa in a negative light even if it is newsworthy which garners them the reputation of being Zuffa shill sites or hype machines.

For some “reporters” being granted access to an event equates to having better seats and having access to athletes and their parties during fight week. While an event is live, these “so-called MMA journalists” as they’ve been called, are nowhere to be found as they are usually off skipping the lines to get autographs and beer from the concession stands. Still, because they have written about the promotion in a positive light, they have been rewarded with a laminated golden ticket that they can hang on the wall of their office and tweet photos of to let the masses know that they know how to play the game and are a bonafide journo.

We’re not saying that the plot holes in Doyel’s murder mystery shouldn’t be addressed.

Basically he just rehashed bits of conjecture stitched together with second-hand reports of purported shady business practices perpetrated by the Zuffa machine. Old news that has likely been injected with several erroneous details as it was recuscitated and passed around. Without hard facts, legit quotes and FTC documents, the story is really just a non-story that seems more of a ,”You need to shape up or we’re through,” kind of break-up letter from a jilted lover than a report by a journalist.  We’ve all seen how those have ended and it’s never good.

I can’t help but wonder if this has less to do with the author’s disappointment with Zuffa and more to do with the recent purchase of the UFC’s biggest rival by a member of CBS owner Sumner Redstone’s  family of companies. Viacom purchased Bellator in October 2011. Whatever the impetus of the story was, Doyel picked a fight with Zuffa.

Unfortunately, as he pointed out with his headline before writing a single paragraph, it’s a fight you can’t win.

Cagepotato Comments

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noizy- January 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm
Poor sap indeed. I was hoping for more than this re-heated dinner. I find it charming how he believe that because the FTC is investigating that something big will come out of it. I wouldn't be surprised if nothing much comes out of it, and his whole worldview will come to the crashing realization that his stance was really a naive and vain attempt to be brave.
orlandomac- January 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Don't read a book by its cover, I have never been to Orlando and live North of the Border where the laws are much stricter and real estate is a huge cash cow for everyone. No one losing their shirts here.

Besides the downturn in the economy houses are still being sold.. looking at record sales for this year. Real Estate in Canada is better and safer than Gold if you study the market.

Our banks are safe too... shame about the weather.
enrikk- January 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm
As Skeletor aptly pointed out above, you can't complain that Google has a monopoly when your own rival business plan sucks. Stop with these cloak-and-dagger theories about how Dana rules with iron fists just because other companies can't get their acts together.
Sure, it may be self-gratifying to think you're the vanguard of a new Rebel Alliance, but at the end of the day you really should just clean out your vag and call it a day. And if you want to consider yourselves journalists, then perhaps you should get back to the news... like with facts and stuff.
I love CP, but this shit is getting old.
XENOPHON- January 26, 2012 at 10:36 am
@RwilsonR - you fucking bonehead.
QUOTE: "I hire hundreds of people annually… hundreds. I look at comparable hiring metrics daily. On average, you expect an employee for a major company to produce something equal roughly 5 times their salary, given the burden of employment, overhead costs, R&D costs, risk of investment, etc. Otherwise it just isn’t worth making the hire."
I am currently in a class titled PME_602 Skills Management (Human Resource Management) and could have used some advice and help on the direction of several papers I've been writing and the analysis that came from.
Having a valuable resource, is like the goose that laid the golden egg. A little late now, as the finals are next week.
Thanks a fucken lot Wilson, next time quit being so god dammed tight lipped - at least now I know you do know something about the labor laws from postings past.
XENOPHON- January 26, 2012 at 10:22 am
@ MAC from Orlando...
Do you just say that, it "... really bothers me living off of the misery of others and making stories up just to get some ..."
Interesting that you are a marketing professional in the real estate industry?
You know, I am guessing that even around here there are quite a lot of people who listened to real estate marketing professionals...the same ones who made their living off the misery of others and made up stories just to get their pockets lined with some of that commission grease.
Did I just pull that out of my ass, or is there some truth to anything I said?
XENOPHON- January 26, 2012 at 9:36 am
@thehonorablereese - it should be pointed out that before the the railroads got squashed by the Feds, they also claimed to be private. Don't think that the government wont fuck you up if they decide they want to.
Especially in a economy that is full of crooks who ran off with all the money. The loud mouth make the best fall guys - and Dana just like Dillinger can go from folk hero, to public enemy #1 in a snap.
In this case Dana is just like the CEO of a public company. If shit gets fucked up, he gets shit canned fast. Also, you like many others believe that Dana runs the show. False. The majority shareholders call all the shots. Its easy to understand every share is one vote.

That's the Fertitta family with at least 81% control. Zuffa is co-owned by Fertitta brothers (40.5% each), Dana White (9%) and Sheik Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi (Flash Entertainment) (10%)
The Sheik is actually holding the best card, has 1% more than Dana. He and Dana are both minority share holders and get all kinds of protections, but the Sheik and only one brother can out vote Dana and the second brother.
Fucking Arabs are equally as shrewd as Jewish and Persians. And like in the movie the Godfather, son's of mob bosses have been known to take separate paths, right. That is just not a Hollywood script, it happens in real life all the fucking time.
Here is something to watch for, for anyone on the inside.
The Fertitta brother, the one the Sheik made the deal with, is not the brother he is seen with most often. It should be crystal clear to all - by now - which Fertitta would throw the other under the bus ...
Revengeance- January 26, 2012 at 9:22 am
Are you guys seriously still playing the martyr role because of your ban? You posted copyrighted pictures of one of their employees that were being hyped for company PR, and you can't understand why they don't take you seriously as "journalists"? I don't think they give a shit if you agree with them all the time, or are critical of them, but if you are going to write an article using shady sources or intentionally leaving facts out to make them look bad, or are going to blatantly post images when it is not legal for you to do so, then why on earth would they invite you in to sit with the big boys and give you the same access as journalists that have been proven to have a sense of professionalism and good judgement? Straight up: don't post illegal shit on your blog and then wonder why a company doesn't trust your judgement.
XENOPHON- January 26, 2012 at 9:02 am
Let me get this straight, Cage Potato is afraid for ESPN? I think we are talking the difference between those still in diapers, and those in running shoes.
Don't let this bias the article, not everyone is the Scoop Jackson of leading big opinion, surely not me.
Yet I pause at what was written, the writer left some great insight, not yet realized by all. Was the entire ESPN expose a mere ploy?
If I wanted to distance myself from a unfriendly group like Zuffa, the first very thing I would do would call them out publicly, then let the public witness their knee-jerk reaction in zealous fashion.
That is exactly what ESPN did to Zuffa. And Zuffa reacted as predictable, just like that bus you wait for every day Karma.
ESPN has a rival, its a big fucking rival, they are FOX sports.
My guess is there are some big decisions being made inside ESPN as we speak. The question had to have arisen inside ESPN, "Can we work with these guys?"

If you are a budding ESPN executive, say just like the ESPN guy that told Dana "...those questions are above my pay grade..." Your interview team might have a strategy of your own.
I am sure there are groups inside ESPN that want MMA, and there are other up and coming ESPN executives who are promoting to their bosses that ESPN enter MMA in a BIG way, but that way need NOT include the seemingly tyrannical cast at Zuffa.
And why would you want to work with Zuffa...they are not sophisticated. We at CP know this, as the "Zuffa Gaggle" plays on raw emotion at the individual level. Why so raw and aggressive from Dana and the Fertittas, well the Zuffites have much to fear.
Even Dana erroneously coughed up when put on the spot during the interview that the UFC is not ready for prime time...he could have said Yes, or sure, but he said NO. Best guess is he is getting fast money now, and he still gets a wide berth at FOX for making some decisions in their co-productions. Why would he want to scurry away from a prime time offer? Easy, prime time equates with a loss of control. And he my friends is a pathetic control freak - no doubt there.
Now denying access to reporters with a blacklist is a sign of just a piece of some of that fear. In this case, it has become obvious another fear is not disclosing total income and future revenue streams of the 4 each Zuffa shareholders.
All in all, good article...
Joedirt- January 26, 2012 at 7:43 am
Getoffme... I've said that in the past. I totally agree... how can you be the best fighter in the world when you have to train AFTER work. The UFC is a monopoly. I have no issue with them putting out better quality but they aggressively put other companies out of business through airing programming, changing timeslots, purchases and acquisitions. MMA is not the UFC's creation, it has existed in other countries for decades or more. They have done a ton to change laws here and help MMA grow but ANY company in place at the beginning would have grown just as fast. As much as the fans like Dana he is a terrible representation. Mainstream business sees him as a thug. He needs to stop trying to appeal to the fans himself, let the fighters do that, start dressing like a CEO and act like a businessman.
RwilsonR- January 26, 2012 at 7:33 am
Hats off to you, GB. Luckily, I think the nuances of written language will escape our boy Hoosimar for the time being. But if he ever gets his hands on any of that shit that made the chimps smart in Planet of the Apes, you better watch out.
eradz- January 26, 2012 at 5:48 am
He can eat a bowl of dicks while I watch all the PPV events from my comp for free.
Me likey- January 26, 2012 at 5:19 am
dan hardy and matt brown might own some too. i see no other reason they would still be fighting for the ufc otherwise.
Me likey- January 26, 2012 at 5:02 am
dana white and the fertitta's aren't sole owners. they sold a small percentage of the company to Sheik Tahnoon of Abu.
RaginAsian- January 26, 2012 at 2:32 am
Cry me a fucking river.
ghostboner- January 26, 2012 at 2:09 am
I made fun of a manbeaverine via memebase. That is bravery. You know what would happen to my legs if he ever learns english and conquers his disability and finds out what I said? Ya you do. Fucking bravery.
RwilsonR- January 25, 2012 at 10:08 pm
Good points orlandomac. I hire hundreds of people annually... hundreds. I look at comparable hiring metrics daily. On average, you expect an employee for a major company to produce something equal roughly 5 times their salary, given the burden of employment, overhead costs, R&D costs, risk of investment, etc. Otherwise it just isn't worth making the hire. Fuck comparing to he NFL. It is a stupid argument. A business should be able to pay what th market bears, plain and simple. Otherwise it won't be in business for very long. The second some jackass thinks he knows better, because he alone is smarter than all the intricacies of the market forces involved, you start to see disincentive and failure. Thank you Marx. Thank you Lenin. Thank you Obama. Thank you Doyel. Go fuck yourselves!
RwilsonR- January 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm
Meh......... more of the same.
@ Skeletor & thehonorablereese - well said.
@ edhedicus - very well said. Nothing is more annoying than self-righteous simpletons without any ability to create anything on their own... only to criticize others. Pretty much everyone in the media fits this bill. The crap Doyel was spewing about his bravery for standing up to big bad Zuffa, trying to disguise it in self-deprecation saying he was a coward for not speaking out previously, is a little much to take seriously. 'Brave', 'coward'... these words shouldn't even apply to someone who makes their living peddling shitty online articles. Not disrespecting anyone who does that for a living... I love a lot of the guys who write for CP, especially that Fowlkes guy. But the self-righteousness is just intolerable. You want to pretend to be brave, do more than write a shitty article about Zuffa.
That_guy- January 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm
You can tell it's fake because Dana doesn't own a suit.
Mofo- January 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm
And yes, I sit here with my internet anonymity talking shit... so, thanks for providing me a forum to be a prick.
Mofo- January 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm
Hmm. Mike Russ, you know why it's clear that you wrote this?
- It's very serious, but doesn't introduce anything new that I haven't heard before. (In contrast, Slack Jack's striking write-up was completely serious, but he had interesting insights.)
- At no point is there any humor or style or flair. Wait, at no point is there enjoyment of writing. It's just bitter. In contrast, Ben Fowlkes does mostly serious writing these days, but there's personality and humor sprinkled throughout. Basically, there's enjoyment of the act of writing.
- There's good photoshop work.
Mike - lighten up. We all know about this press pass BS that the UFC pulls. We all know about the fighter pay problems, and the sponsorship censorship, and we know that Anderson should move up a weight class but probably won't (that one was a tedious read too). Can we throw you and Danga into the teleportation device from The Fly and just morph you two into eachother? This writer's too serious; this writer's not serious enough; and this porridge is juuuuuust right.
djp1988- January 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm
I'm looking forward to Gregg Doyel's upcoming book "Touch Your Toes: My Post Zuffa Career in MMA"
the silver hawaiian- January 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm
TheWarsawExpress- January 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm
Did Mike Goldberg come up with that headline?
thehonorablereese- January 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm
@drainplugofideas Read this article about fighter salaries, from the mouths of the fighters themselves:
It shows that even the lower level UFC fighters make a lot more than base salary in sponsor pay and "backroom bonuses."

As for reporters who write poorly of the UFC, why should the UFC *give them free stuff* (cageside seats, exclusive press passes) if they won't benefit? Film companies don't grant interviews to people who are going to trash their films before the come out. The UFC is an entertainment business like film: what's different?
edhedicus- January 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm
I am so tired of "sports writers" talking about integrity and doing their job. You aren't breaking Watergate scandals, or exposing Kennedy assasination conspirators. It is just entertainment, and the employees have every right to go elsewhere to earn a living. Shut up!