There is more to MMA than Dana White, he just does it best

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Marketing, PR, Social Media, UFC

The biggest misconception in MMA is that the UFC is ‘all there is’ in terms of official organizations.  There are actually 20+ MMA organizations around the United States and more around the world.  So why is that most fans only know of the UFC?

You’re probably saying to yourself –  because the UFC has the money to advertise.   Well, there is a lot more to it than that.  It wasn’t so long ago that the UFC was an unprofitable organization and Dana White and partners the Fertitta brothers were debating whether to sell the organization.  A few short (but hard-fought) years later and the UFC is now the creme de la creme of MMA.  In short, Dana White has proved to be an impeccable business man.  With that in mind, let’s look at exactly why the general fan only knows the UFC:

  • Branding, Branding, Branding – There are very few organizations that brand themselves as well as the UFC.  As an organization they are very clear as to who they are, and who they aren’t.  Appearances are always uniform: look at the logos, the promotions, the hype – they know how to showcase themselves.  If you want further proof, at the end of a PPV look at the number of business trademarks the UFC’s parent company Zuffa, LLC has in place.*
  • Professionalism –Yes, I said professionalism. Despite any reservations you may have for the language of Dana White, the organization itself is first class.  Unlike the competition you will never see fireworks or other WWE-like stunts pulled to ‘get the crowd going’ during a fight card.  The focus is always the legitimacy of the sport and this organization presents every event as if it were the Super Bowl.
  • The Ultimate Fighter – I’m not sure anyone aside from perhaps “The Situation” has ever benefited as much from reality TV as the UFC.  Although the show has made house-hold names of some specific fighters it definitely solidified the UFC as THE MMA brand people now recognize.
  • Fighter Promotion – This goes back to organizational branding as it is not just personal branding.  By finding fighters like Chuck Liddell, Rich Franklin, GSP, Randy Couture, etc who can act as ambassadors to the sport they create an association of the caliber of athletes that competes in the UFC.  They become branded UFC Fighters, not just MMA fighters.
  • The City of Fights – Paris will always have love and light, Vegas will always have gambling and professional fights.  By basing its HQ in the home of all professional battles the UFC made sure it was always viewed as the top MMA dog in the pack.
  • Fan Appreciation – There are few organizations that go out of their way to thank their fans as often as the UFC does.  Free TV fight cards, free give-aways, responses from Dana White via Twitter, the list goes on.
  • Personal Availability – Although the fighters are great in greeting fans no one has made themself more available than UFC President Dana White.  In a world that is continually shown greedy, unapproachable CEOs there is nothing more appreciated by the ‘common man’ than to see one of their own in the seat of power.
  • No Mercy – This goes without saying, Dana White and the UFC have a ‘Cobra Kai’ mentality when it comes to the competition and ensure their programs – when possible – eclipse anything else going on in the MMA world.  Whenever a STRIKEFORCE event is going to air turn to Spike TV I guarantee you that you’ll find a UFC alternative well worth your time.

Now, I have a clear level of respect for everything the UFC and Dana White have done for MMA.  However, that does not mean I want other organizations to lie down and die.  The more organizations out there, the more the sport can spread and fighters will continue to strengthen and evolve.  The key is to keep the organizations with the same class and professionalism as the UFC.  Let’s hope we can see STRIKEFORCE,  Bellator and others start to learn from the above points.

*Trademarks include: Ultimate Fighting Championship®, Ultimate Fighting®, UFC®, The Ultimate Fighter®, Submission®, As Real As It Gets®, Zuffa®, The Octagon™ and the eight-sided competition mat and cage design are registered trademarks, registered service marks, trademarks, trade dress and/or service marks owned exclusively by Zuffa, LLC

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