MMA, How to promote the Sports

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: January 15, 2012

Dana White, Mixed Marital Arts Mastermind

Dana White, Mixed Marital Arts Mastermind

IOWA CITY, IOWA (BASN)—Dane White may be one of the smartest promoters in the sporting world and yes, I have made this point before that boxing can learn from White. His latest promotion with Fox is just another example of White showing boxing how it can be done or maybe should be. First, Fox will promote a major UFC event Saturday night on the 28th and last Saturday night, he did a PPV event combined with Fox cable network FX. Preliminary bouts were shown on FX before the main events went to PPV broadcasting. What White has enhance the value of his PPV by encouraging fans to make an entire evening of watching MMA while introducing fans to up and coming fighters who may eventually be the future PPV stars.

This is something that boxing might want to consider for their own PPV for this would add to their PPV fights. Imagine if HBO or Showtime had three or four opening bouts with up and coming fighters before switching to PPV fight. This could entice a causal boxing fan to fork out the big bucks for big event of the evening. White genius is that he has managed to get Fox on board to promote MMA and combine this with his many PPV events; he has managed to add value to the whole card.

Frank Lotierzo once told me that for him, PPV should have been reserved for special events but many PPV events have hardly been you can’t miss events and at 50 dollars, you should be broadcasting possible classics.

The one aspect that White understands is that he is competing with other form of entertainment and his ability to consolidate MMA under his control has done much to enhance the value of his sport. When I pointed out that UFC has become the main vehicle for MMA, I had many within the boxing community note that many fighters and promoters like the various sanctioning bodies for fighters feel that they are more opportunities to fight for championships. The history of boxing has seen many good fighters denied shots at title since they would not play ball with those who ran the sports.

While many boxing pundits and promoters rail against the sanctioning bodies, the reality is that many promoters like the varied bodies for the simple reason, there are more than enough title bouts to be had for their fighters. This has also ruined the sports for it has devalued championship belts and more importantly, it has turned off fans. Many fans have asked me, who are the champions and quite frankly, I couldn’t name every division champions. The reality is that there are no boxing writers who could name the various sanctioning body champions since we are talking about some 70 plus champions at any one time. UFC has just nine divisions including a Super Heavyweight division and fans know who are the champions and who are the best.

Many have written me to complain about White tactics or the fact that many MMA fighters are not as well paid as the top boxers but they miss the major points of what White has done. White views other sports his competitors and MMA is not a monopoly under the iron rule of the UFC but a competitor to football, baseball, boxing, tennis, and others sports or entertainment options. The average boxing promoter fails to realize that his audience has other options to consider which is why it is not uncommon for HBO and Showtime to actually have major events on the same night. I never could understand why boxing promoters would actually schedule events for the same night but they do. All they do is to split the dollars and fan attentions.

Dane White has put together a game plan and yes, Boxing can learn from what he has done. White has managed to make MMA a happening thing among younger fans. In a recent interview with women of combat sports, I made the observation that many younger fans are looking at MMA as their combat sport of choice and White has targeted this audience. Boxing has not.