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More on the UFC and Pride fiasco

I have received a lot of grief for my post in which I wrote that the UFC called off the Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell fight. Commenters and emailers alike have written that I am wrong to have “blamed” the UFC for the fact that the fight fell apart.

Following is what I wrote in response to one person who emailed to complain about the post. I thought I would share it with the whaledog.com readers:

Hi XXX,

Just so you know, I wasn’t really trying to assign fault in my post. Rather, I was trying to explain motivations.

Pride wanted to use the Silva/Liddell fight as its Trojan horse to enter the U.S. market. With all of Pride’s problems in Japan, and the importance it is placing on making $$ from the American market, it is highly unlikely that it would have done anything to kill the negotiations (with the exception that it would never give the UFC its rights to Silva). Doing so would have damaged its chances of capturing American fans.

The UFC, on the other hand, had little to win but everything to lose if Silva fought Liddell. The fans at the last UFC did not really react all that much when Silva entered the cage since many of them are new to the sport and do not know who he is. So, Liddell beating Silva would not do too much to enhance the UFC’s reputation with the most U.S. fans. Unless Pride would give the UFC the rights to keep Silva in the promotion as long as he was champion (which Pride would never do since it would spoil its ability to use Silva in its U.S. shows), the fact that there was a good chance that Silva would walk away with the UFC championship meant that the UFC’s motivation to sign the fight would have been outweighed by its motivation to protect the promotion.

The way it looks, the UFC either wised up to Pride’s tactics (which would not have been hard since Pride bragged about them all over the place) or it was completely clueless and got lucky (from its perspective) by backing out of the fight. I do not believe that the UFC is clueless, so that is why I wrote that the UFC backed out of the fight.

Sure, the fight is not happening because the two sides could not agree. But, the UFC is the only side that had the motivation to make sure there was no agreement. Frankly, if I ran the UFC I probably would have never reached an agreement with Pride on this fight, either.

The thing that is surprising about the whole matter is that the UFC announced the fight without it and Pride first agreeing on a deal. That was a dumb move that gave Pride free P.R. and set this thing up for a public disaster.

Of course, what I have talked about above is how the businesses would approach this matter. As a fan, I still wish that the two sides could get their act together so we could see the fight.

I hope that clears things up a bit on my perspective.

-Jeff

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5 Responses

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  1. Anonymous said

    You seemed to have forgotten that PRIDE posted on their website the day after not only the Wanderlei Silva announcement but that Fujita was set to fight at the same UFC show. And a day before the first CP article comes out about Dana White expressing doubt that Silva vs. Liddell will ever happen, Sakakibara goes wild at a presser and claims PRIDE will send all its fighters to the UFC and take all their titles.

    The UFC and PRIDE promised the battle, and both did not deliver. Again, your bias is showing.

  2. Chi said

    Your rationale is way off base. Just look at the facts. UFC contracts always require that if fighters win the title, they cannot fight for any other org. So why would White agree to the fight unless there was some understanding that Wanderlei would stick around if he won?

    Second fact, right after the fight was announced, Yahoo searches on Wanderlei shot up dramatically. So in Pride’s mind, they got what they wanted: publicity for their guy on one of the most watched UFC PPV’s of all-time. Pride may have thought they should cash out while ahead because the damage to their new brand from losing the fight may have outweighted the success of winning and they weren’t willing to take that risk.

    Everyone agrees that there was little reason as to why UFC would do this fight, but did anyone ever consider with the increased shows and thining rosters, maybe the UFC just wanted to put together the best fight they could?

  3. How else were they supposed to push the fight anon? “Yeah, we got two guys fighting in november over in the UFC. Please watch!”

    How the hell can you sell with that!?

  4. I think the first poster has said it pretty well. Both companies hyped it up, to blame Zuffa is BS.

    Pride went so far as to suggest that UFC fighters might show up at their Vegas card. That was never going to happen, yet he chose to toss a little lie to build hype for his show.

    Both sides deserve blame.

  5. Jeff was correct primarily to target UFC on this one. The fight was announced by White as slated to take place in UFC, not Pride. White did so either without a signed contract in place, or had one which someone backed out of. Even he has not claimed the latter. If that had happened, you would have expected the ever-litigious Zuffa attorneys to be headed to court.

    Sure, DSE said all kinds of stuff to the Japanese media. They run their events like the fake pro “wrestling”. They have been exposed in the Japanese media for what they really are, and lost their lucrative TV deal as a result. But is Zuffa really much different?