Day Fourteen – The Most Important Fight Ever or So the Marketing Would Say

14 01 2010

As much as I want to try to mix things up everyday, I can’t help but mention something I just found on the interwebs. It’s the new promo for UFC 109: Relentless.

Take a look:

Does that not hype you up to watch the fight? Even if you’re not a fan of the sport, this video does a fantastic job of making this seem like this pay-per-view coming up will host the biggest fight of all time.

The reason I bring it up is because I’m just so amazed at how well the UFC is able to market itself. I have become a bigger fan of the UFC by watching the “UFC Countdown” than the actual fight itself. Though some fights do live up to the hype, not many really do. The Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva fight at UFC 108 was probably the most boring fight of the night, on an otherwise solid card, but the pre-fight hype by the UFC made it seem like I was going to miss something if I didn’t see this fight. Evans was out to get Silva after beating his training partner, Keith Jardine, and taunting him as Jardine regained consciousness on the ground. This fight had their hero and villain.

It’s not always hero vs villain. It won’t be at UFC 109, yet I’m already very excited to see this fight, and it only took three minutes of video to sway me. Maybe my childhood memories of superfights between the Macho Man and Hulk Hogan linger in my head. I’ve heard Mike Goldberg talk about professional wrestling’s advantage over the UFC by having a weekly show to hype up their fights. Macho Man and Hogan would smack talk each other, sometimes even come close to brawling, but if you wanted to see their dispute solved, you’d need to buy the pay-per-view.

The Ultimate Fighter is the closest thing they have to that format, but I still feel that the UFC Countdown shows do much more than TUF ever could. Sure, it does create quite a bit of excitement, but nothing gives you the stakes of the fight like that 3:00 video did. Trash talking really amounts to nothing. Knowing what each fighter has to gain; better yet, knowing what each has to lose can make a bad fight seem like the most important fight in history.

Or maybe I’m just a sucker for marketing.


Day Thirteen – Why Isn’t MMA Legal Here Yet?

13 01 2010

The City of Toronto has another huge shortfall on its hands. Though some are proposing budget cuts, which are almost necessary at this point, others have looked for different streams of revenue. One of the many ideas is to bring in more tourist dollars. The Toronto Unlimited campaign was the Miller era’s best idea to bring people in. Needless to say, it hasn’t really brought in the tourism it has promised.

There has been one idea that has banged at the door trying to get in, but the city and the province have simply ignored it. It’s about time they give in and open the door to MMA in Toronto.

It's only a matter of time before the UFC hits Toronto, but will it be soon enough to take advantage of the hype?

The UFC has been trying to shed the image that, the UFC specifically, had earned a decade prior. MMA is now a fully regulated and relatively safe combat sport that most of the world has opened up to. For some crazy reason, you can take up boxing legally in Ontario, but you can’t mix that with some wrestling. Whether it’s an uneducated fight commission or some boxing die-hards who see MMA as “too brutal”, talks have been stalled.

Toronto has more MMA fans per capita than any other country in the world, according to Marc Ratner, the UFC’s vice-president of regulatory and government affairs. It’s ridiculous to think that with these hungry fans within the city of Toronto, they have to go to Quebec to satisfy their MMA appetite. Not to mention fans in New York State, which seems ever closer to opening it’s doors to most populated city in the continent. Premier Dalton McGuinty is even warming up to the idea, but there doesn’t seem to be any talk of it from city hall.

Dana White, President of the UFC, has lobbied for MMA to be legal in Ontario for a while and doesn’t seem to be letting the issue go. Hometown media, such as “Showdown” Joe Ferraro, host of MMA Connected, and Mauro Renalo, commentator for Strikeforce and host of The MMA Show, are right behind Dana in the fight for legalization. The fact that all three sports networks in Ontario fight for the rights to MMA coverage shows that there’s a market for it. A market that is more than willing to bring their money into the city of Toronto.

The money is there for the taking, it’s just a matter of getting over their prejudice over the sport. The days of the human cockfight are long gone. MMA is a sport that isn’t going to disappear, but the opportunity to bring tourists for all over Ontario and New York State just might.

Good thing this year is an election year in Toronto. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one candidate jumps on the bandwagon. Maybe the same candidate who would have liked to see the Toronto Islands become a red-light district? (More on his platform in the future.)

I think it’s only a matter of time before we see GSP, Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture duking it out in the octagon in Toronto. Now it’s just a matter of what building to host it in.

Marc Ratner, the UFC’s vice-president of regulatory and government affair

Day Three – From Fake to Real: The Coincidental Cross-Over

3 01 2010

Years ago, I remember professional wrestling was the thing to watch. D-Generation X were making penis jokes on live television. Stone Cold Steve Austin was letting his middle finger fly, right before planting a Stone Cold Stunner on whoever was in kicking distance. All the while, a bunch of too young kids were enjoying all from the comfort of their homes. To no one’s surprise, I was one of them. At about the same time, an organization called the Ultimate Fighting Championship had become illegal in Ontario and much of the continent.

Brock Lesnar was one of my favourite wrestlers in the twilight as a Pro Wrestling fan

The WWE continued its rein over my free time for a few more years as the names began to change. Bret Hart was unceremoniously dumped from the organization in what would be dubbed “The Montreal Screw-Job“. Shawn Michaels disappeared due to nagging back problems. Even the WCW, the WWE’s main competition ceased to exist at the beginning of the decade, after being bought out by the WWE.

As the landscape began to change in the WWE, changing from what I had become accustomed to, UFC began to pick up steam in the background. In my eyes, the WWE had one last saving grace, they acquired a wrestler with the moniker “The Next Big Thing”. He was a beast of a man, one which everyone was sure was on steroids, though he wasn’t. He would pick up men 300+ pounds and fling them in the air with relative ease, with a move he called the F5, named after the one of the most severe classifications of tornado. This man, who was well in the 300 pound territory himself, would vault himself on the ring apron, setting fireworks to shoot from the ring posts. The man himself, Brock Lesnar, was a sight to be seen.

As Brock left professional wrestling behind a short time later, he took something with him. Though my interest didn’t dissolve right in that moment, it was definitely the end of a personal era. One where I would never really have the same interest for professional wrestling again. Whether it was the sudden departure of Brock Lesnar or simply my decision to spend my free time else where, it seems to be a good marker of where my interests and gone, and who had taken them with him.

It was around this time that I replaced my interest in The Rock, Shawn Michaels and Triple H with names like Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz and Georges St. Pierre. No longer could a man throw another by the arm with complete confidence that he will bounce back towards him. No longer could a man take hundreds of punches to the nose, all without any visible damage, only to be stopped by a bare elbow dropped to his chest. Now the stake were real. These fighters were putting everything on the line for the same opportunity as their pro wrestling counterparts; to wrap gold around their waists, but it wouldn’t be handed to them by on high. They would have to earn in using grit, strength, determination and, above all else, skill. And win or lose, they all paid a price that you could clearly see.

The UFC had officially taken a fan away from the WWE.