UFC 115: Marketing Two Legends

Posted: June 9, 2010 in Marketing, UFC

We’re days away from yet another titleless UFC PPV card.  However, unlike some previous events (*Cough, Evans vs. Silva, **Cough, Cough: Nogueira vs Velasquez ) this is a main even worth watching.   Two legends in the sport, Chuck “The Ice Man” Liddell and Rich “Ace” Franklin will do battle in the 205 lb division.

Unlike the last time two legends met in the light heavyweight division (Couture vs. Coleman), the two combatants are both marketable personalities and still in their relative fighting primes.

As a former LHW champion with his trademark Mohawk and confidence Chuck has always been able to bring out the UFC fans in droves.  Coming off his recent stint on the Ultimate Fighter he has proven to fans once and for all that he is sorry for Dancing with the Stars.  Rich has been, and continues to be, a UFC poster boy.  A former champion (and TUF coach) himself, Franklin has bounced between middleweight, lHW, and catch weight (195) for the organization as they needed him. More importantly, as an eloquent, soft spoken former math teacher he is the type of fighter even your mother can like.

Despite the names, the personalities and the fan bases involved I’ve felt like this card has taken a back seat on the promotion train.  Liddell vs. Franklin was named months ago but has received far little promotion than the Rampage vs. Evans fight did.  Why is this?

  • The need to Keep The Ultimate Fighter ratings up – This fight was named because Tito Ortiz needed to pull out of his fight with Liddell due to yet another injury. With TUF being a highly watched cash cow, this fight likely needed to be swept under the rug in order to keep viewers tuning in.  Why did Tito pull out? Why is Rich fighting? How will this change the season?  These are all questions you were meant to ask and tune in each week to find out.  If the attention was focused on Liddell vs. Franklin, then you probably wouldn’t have bothered to watch. (Let’s be honest, it was kind of a dud season.)
  • There is No Bad Blood to hype – When there is no title on the line, nothing can bring in the fans like a good feud.  A heated rivalry or genuine disliking for one another can instantly turn a so-so matching into a Fight of the Night.  On paper, Rampage vs. Evans looked as boring as the three-rounder turned out to be.  BUT, since both fighters talked so much about one another and genuinely seemed to hate each other we all tuned in to see what happened.  (We’ll call this the Ortiz-Shamrock equation.)  Unfortunately for the hype machine, with Liddell and Franklin we find two former champions that respect each other’s game. 
  • Both fighters are coming off losses; There is no positive momentum launching either to a definitive title shot – Rampage and Evans were both coming off previous wins and were ranked high enough to warrant a shot at Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the LHW title with another win in their belt.  Liddell is coming off back-to-back KO losses and over a year lay-off from the ring.  Franklin is coming off a TKO loss, almost a year lay-off and due to his participation in catch weight fights is an unlikely LHW contender.

Now that we’ve looked at why this fight didn’t get attention, let’s look at why it should have:

The Stats

Chuck Liddell*
• 6-2, 205 lbs
• 76.5-inch reach
• 21-7 overall (16-6 UFC; 2-1 PRIDE)
• 1-4 in last 5 bouts
• 6-4 in last 10 bouts
• Currently on a 2-fight losing streak (second time that has happened in his career)
• 12 of 18 UFC/PRIDE wins have come by KO/TKO
• 5 of 7 PRIDE/UFC losses have come by KO/TKO
• Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
• 22 UFC bouts ties for the most all time
• Ranked 2nd all time with 16 UFC wins
• Tied for 7th all time with 7 UFC title bouts; his 5 wins in those bouts is 5th all time
• Tied for 4th all time with 4 consecutive successful UFC title defenses
• 7-fight UFC winning streak ties for 5th all-time (Liddell did it twice)
• Holds the record for the most consecutive UFC knockouts with 7
• Fight of the Night (UD3 over Wanderlei Silva on December 29, 2007)

Rich Franklin*
• 6-1, 205 lbs
• 76-inch reach
• 27-5, 1 NC overall (12-4 UFC)
• 3-2 in last 5 bouts
• 6-4 in last 10 bouts
• 5-1 in UFC’s 205-lb division
• Only 4 professional fights have lasted the distance (3-1 record in those fights)
• 8 of 12 UFC wins have come by KO/TKO
• 4 of his 5 professional losses have come by KO/TKO
• Former UFC Middleweight Champion
• 16 UFC bouts ties him for 9th all time
• Tied for 7th all time with 12 UFC wins
• 7-fight UFC winning streak ties for 5th all time
• Fight of the Night (UD3 over Wanderlei Silva on June 13, 2009)

My take on how this goes down: From a business standpoint, I think we’re going to see a huge drop in PPV buys.  Which I can honestly say, is a shame.  This is a good fight worth watching, but based on the fact that a lackluster Rampage vs. Evans card was only a few weeks ago, I think without a title fight on the card the average fan will look to save a few bucks.

From the fight perspective, I think Rich Franklin will win by TKO in the beginning of the third round.  Sorry, Chuck.  I’ll always be a fan, but I have to go with Ace this time around.  Franklin always comes with a unique game plan and a strong mix of skills.  Chuck always comes with one plan in mind that everyone is well aware of “right hand, right hand, right hand…”

*Stats from http://www.UFC.com

  1. […] a quick buck off a name that used to mean something to the sport.  I’ve discussed how you can market two legends, but what happens when you need to market one – and one that is far passed his […]

  2. […] always gives back to the community/armed forces, and – he proves he is the “company man” by bailing out UFC cards left and right. He has thrown himself into “catch weight” fights 3 times to help the […]

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