What a difference a week can make.
The week began with whispers of a major announcement coming from Dana White. Most instantly assumed it would be the announcement of the Shogun-Machida fight. Perhaps we in the MMA blogosphere were acting a little too jaded and arrogant. Then again we have been burned by White’s major announcements only to be stuck holding a doll.
So we waited for the major announcement assuming it would fit nicely into our pre-packaged storylines.
Then Dana White threw a wrench in the machine. The UFC president called up the unofficial Zuffa mouthpiece, Kevin Iole, for an exclusive story. Kimbo Slice would be a contestant on the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Word spread like wildfire, instantly praise was levied at the UFC for their bold move and media coup. There were some who decried hypocrisy but with Kimbo’s appearance in a Dana White video blog all was set aside as fans salivated for the new season before the present one was even over.
Kimbo’s return to MMA has acted as an eclipse blocking out all other MMA news. True, we continue to publish previews for Strikeforce Lawler vs. Shields or WEC 41, but the buzz is all around the former EliteXC star.
This latest event highlights the tremendous sway the UFC has over the MMA narrative. With one announcement Zuffa has completely co-opted whatever attention Strikeforce was getting and steered it back unto itself. Whether Dana White and Zuffa can now guide that attention to WEC 41 is an unknown but the presence of the WEC video blogs indicates they are trying to nudge, or push, everyone in that direction.
The deftness which Zuffa took hold of the media is reminiscent to the well oiled political machines we all witnessed in last years mega-election cycle.
Strikeforce may never of had our undivided attention but the organization is still preparing to put on a fight cad that features three top-ten fighters, two of which are facing off against each other. With the ADHD reactivity that exists on the Internet (where MMA media resides) Strikeforce’s event has become a footnote in this week’s news. That fact illustrates one of the real problems in running a national MMA promotion that will inevitably come in competition with the UFC.
It isn’t just the brand name, the television contract, and the marketing or fan base. It is the fact that at a moments notice Zuffa can bury you in the media cycle.
Zak Woods is the founder of the mixed martial arts blog WatchKalibRun.com.