Is it all just meaningless? Photo of Anthony Perosh by Mark Kolbe via Getty Images.
Hi, it's me again.
I had another bright idea that I wanted to share, which digs a little deeper into the upcoming weekend of mixed martial arts (MMA) action that, for all intents and purposes, is meaningless.
This weekend there are five notable (and I use that term lightly) events: UFC 147, UFC on FX 4, Bellator 71, M-1: "Fedor vs. Rizzo" and ONE FC: "Destiny of Warriors." And for all the die hard motherfuckers who just want to see fights and don't fucking care who is fucking fighting, you can check out UFC/Strikeforce/Bellator veteran Joe "Diesel" Riggs defend his RITC Light Heavyweight Championship against IFL veteran Shane "Battlecat" Johnson LIVE online.
Somewhere. I think.
These events are so thrilling that one promotion is already offering fans refunds, another is giving away a free streaming video player so fans can watch it online rather than on its preferred television network, another isn't even bothering to air it at all and another is only relevant because its got a refreshing Asian flavor.
Care to take a guess which one of the five I left out?
It might be hard, but UFC on FX 4, by process of elimination, is the MMA event to watch this weekend. An event headlined by two talented 155-pound contenders (Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida) who, unfortunately, most likely will never challenge for a world title.
Fun fight? Absolutely. Main event-caliber? Not even close.
The good news for all you die hard fans is that, as usual, MMAmania.com will deliver wall-to-wall coverage. That's what we do, even if it's a little bit excessive. And, rest assured, we'll keep killing it. However, the whole looming coverage responsibilities got me thinking about the certain way in which story ideas unfold around these parts.
It's almost become
Without getting too detailed, we generally see what's coming down the pike and schedule our coverage accordingly. We have a model that most MMA fans dig, which is underscored by our daily traffic exploits.
If you don't believe me, tough noogies, that's top secret, kinda classified information ... even though some smart guys will try and prove me wrong in the comments section by referencing some way-off vanilla projections from Alexa.com and/or Compete.com.
Let me save you the senseless trip and effort because this ain't about our online clout.
On the contrary, it's about noticing trends and interest from the back-end in my plush air traffic control tower. Sure, we just registered our best day EVER last Sunday, but we can thank Manny Pacquaio, geriatric judging and our opportunistic staff of super-savvy SEO studs for that one.
That's not to say we're struggling without the Filipino wrecking ball. On the contrary, the site -- from a numbers perspective -- is hitting on all cylinders thanks to hard work, talent, experience and, of course, your loyalty.
What's troubling, however, is what lies ahead. I controversially touched on this issue a few weeks ago, revealing that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event overload is fucking with my fight feelings. I still feel the same way, despite you're best efforts to humiliate and convince me otherwise.
Anyway, back to how story ideas unfold around these parts, which I attributed primarily to knowing what works and when, as well as knowing what our audience wants and even doesn't want, but we're going to do it anyway because we can and will.
See what I did there?
Well there's obviously more to our secret sauce than just wrapping coverage around upcoming events. There are wild cards such as breaking news, exclusive interviews, retrospectives, predictions, previews and post-fight reactions. I'm sure I'm missing something like Friday Fun threads and shameless ring girl photo threads, but you get the general picture.
Sometimes, like right now, you're even invited to check out my thought process about an upcoming weekend jam-packed with events and fights that, once again, most won't care about. However, like I did last time, I'm going to support this argument with only a gut instinct, experience and the proprietary knowledge I just mentioned, even if I'm using it to serve the interests of this post and justify my fight feelings (again).
For the purposes of understanding the complete context, the genesis for this rant can be traced back to the retirement of Brock Lesnar and his transition back to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Yeah, I'm going there and, as usual, am not looking back.
I couldn't stand the WWE. I had sworn off the whole fantasy more than two decades ago just after I emblazoned "Thump" on my thermal underwear and revealed them at a sleepover to awkward silence sometime in the mid 1980s. I caught the riot act, scared me straight and I vowed never to return to such silliness.
That was a mistake.
Fast forward to the other night: In the midst of my parental responsibilities, my son begged me to find the fight between John Cena vs. Big Show this past weekend before "Monday Night Raw" came on. I couldn't deny him: It's these seemingly insignificant moments that are very significant in his world.
And mine, apparently, too, despite a 30-year difference in age and "experience."
Besides, I had myself to blame. He wouldn't be watching WWE if I wasn't tuning into see what the hell Lesnar was up to. Lesnar is a draw no matter what he does or where he goes or what some of you might say/think, so it was in the best interest of business, and curiosity, to jump back into the rabbit hole.
The fight between Cena and Big Show was predictable, after all, it's not really real. I get that, trust me. But, when it was over, I wasn't satisfied. I needed more. Specifically, I had to find out if Dolph Ziggler could dethrone Seamus. His over-the-top shtick grew on me over the past few weeks/months and I actually, gasp, enjoyed watching his
Ziggler didn't win despite owning Seamus. That was a predictable outcome, too, but one that actually triggered a little excitement. Some emotion, some feelings!
So where the hell am I going with this?
I'm not telling you to go watch the WWE ... at all. Remember, this is about how "stories" develop. In particular, the thought process of one writer who most of you, if you got this far, probably think is a whack job. I could have been watching "Deadliest Catch" for the first-time ever or enjoying another ridiculous episode of "Jersey Shore."
Those shows, like most before them, stopped being entertaining and interesting when they became too popular, too much.
This leads me back to my WWE epiphany. My flux capacitor moment that, really, is as old as time.
UFC desperately needs to put on fights that fans care about. But more than that, not put ONE fight on a card that people care about. Keep it fresh, keep it new. Sure, a few new fans might be won if "The Bully" and "The Carpenter" turn in a performance for the ages.
Highly unlikely, but not impossible.
But, how many of those new fans will be lost watching Brazilian no names audition for UFC relevancy for $44.95 the night after? That get's old, and expensive, real fast. It's a delicate battle of fan attrition that the UFC, the worldwide MMA leader, is precariously close to endangering if it hasn't already.
Don't even get me started on the cannibalization of fight cards for spare parts because of injuries and watering down what it means to be called an "Ultimate Fighter." There are a whole host of other "casualties" of global expansion that have me concerned, but I'll save those for another time.
Let's go back to the WWE, which is "new" to me (again). I kind of cared about Ziggler, even if I won't, say, six months from now. That's what's worrisome. And it's a parallel that can be drawn with MMA (after all, their business models are eerily similar) and anything in life, really.
Start booking back-to-back events that very few care about, especially when injuries are killing cards lately, and whatever new interest you generate quickly fades. I can't wait to see how the promotion sells UFC on FOX 4: "Shogun vs. Vera" to a naive nationwide audience later this summer.
All things considered, Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson should headline that important event. And the the blockbuster headliner should be supported with four other fights that will probably headline events around the Aug. 4, 2012, scheduled date.
For heaven's sake, make these events meaningful again. I'm begging ... twice now.
Sure, UFC can probably keep making money, staying afloat and promoting too many events to satisfy the perceived need that doesn't exist right now. We here at MMAmania.com can follow suit, following the same pattern of success that's gotten us this far, breaking our backs to deliver MMA-related news that people will eventually reluctantly read.
But, before long, this whole UFC/MMA thing will become one big sad story that fight fans will begin to care less and less about. It's already happening -- I can see it, I can (still) feel it.