This month, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) celebrates its 20th anniversary with UFC 167, a card headlined by Georges St-Pierre hoping to defend his welterweight title against Johny Hendricks. To commemorate such an occasion, the UFC has gone on a 20 day media tour.
On the surface, it seems like from a public relations standpoint, the UFC is doing everything correctly. I mean, they have a huge event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV, so obviously they need to pull out all the stops in order to promote the event.
Unfortunately, outside of an incredibly well-produced television advertisement, I haven't really seen all that much when it comes to information on the card. And one man who agrees is former UFC middleweight title contender, Chael Sonnen, who fights Rashad Evans in the co-main event.
Sonnen spoke with TapouT Radio on SiriusXM and he voiced his displeasure with the lack of awareness for his fight with Evans.
"You know, I'm on the card and I'm a huge fan. And outside of my fight and St. Pierre's, I don't know who else is fighting that night. The card as a whole has not been promoted. I think when you have Georges St. Pierre on a card, that at times they view that as enough. And it appears that that's the case. There's another storyline here as well that this is the 20th anniversary event of the UFC, so that's also been taking some headlines. But, I agree, I've seen the commercial and I saw the poster and Rashad and we weren't on either. That's up to them. They handle that, I handle the fighting."
He brings up several great points. The first is that the card, from top to bottom, is one of the deepest of the year. I'd actually go as far as to argue one of the deepest in the past five years. With such a strong undercard that's highlighted with a bout between Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald, it's indefensible that the fights aren't being discussed.
There's also a very true reality: when Chael Sonnen fights, people tune in to watch.
Without question, Sonnen is a rarity in mixed martial arts (MMA), in that he has the ability to promote his fights by cutting professional wrestling-style promos. And he does it very well by drawing elements from promos that were used by former professional wrestlers.
And those promos are what have made him a media darling and a fan favorite. You know that whenever Sonnen speaks, people are sure to listen. At UFC 167, he faces Rashad Evans, a former-UFC Light Heavyweight champion, and one of the few fighters to headline an event that's drawn over one million pay-per-view (PPV) buys.
The bout should be getting more attention. And that it hasn't is criminal. We're not talking about a bout between two prospects on a UFC on Fox Sports 2 card. Sonnen and Evans are two of the most well-known fighters on the UFC's roster. And they both have the ability to build a fight with interviews.
So the question remains: why isn't the UFC allowing Sonnen to do what he does so well? Give the man a live microphone and let him promote a fight that have been promoted all along.