UFC 117: The Aftermath

Posted: August 8, 2010 in Marketing, PR, UFC

Photo from Yahoo! Sports

Well, I stand corrected.  UFC 117 was a great card that ended with an exciting middle weight title fight.   I did not write my typical preview post about this event because I did not think it would be worth remembering.  Based on Anderson Silva’s previous fight and Chael Sonnen’s offensive trash talk, I could not see a positive outlook for a marketer in either prospective champion.

Brands advertising with the UFC ultimately thought the same way.  In looking at the card, this was the fewest number of big brand advertisers I have seen in a long time.  This particular PPV only had: Bud Light, Harley Davidson,  Cazadores Tequila, TapOut, Oracle Arena, Xience, Affliction, Piranhas-3D, UFC Poker.net,  The U.S. Marines, UFC the Magazine, and the UFC Fan Expo.

Although there was a great line up on the event, the only fight that had my eye was the welterweight bout between hall of famer, Matt Hughes and Gracie star, Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida.  I’m a big fan of wrestling and jujitsu so this was an ideal match.  However, the ending was a huge surprise.  After a TKO victory of Royce Gracie, a decision over Gracie student Matt Serra, and a KO victory over Renzo Gracie, Matt Hughes defeated Almeida via a choke for the submission victory.  Although Hughes is a dedicated wrestler, this fight proved that he is a blackbelt-level practitioner of no gi jujitsu.  From a business perspective, beating a much younger fighter proves that Hughes can still carry big fights on big cards.  I’ll be interested to see where they line him up next.

The Main Event- Silva vs Sonnen: What does this mean for the UFC?
The true shock of this fight is that it went 5 rounds. Although I’m not a big fan of either fighter, I did think that Silva would outclass Sonnen and defeat him soundly in the first round.  Instead, Sonnen would bring the fight to Silva, push the pace, and dictate the fight with a constant barrage of take downs. In the final round, Silva would slip one of the slickest submissions I have seen in a long time.  A triangle choke/armbar that seemed to come out of no where defeated Sonnen with minutes left in the round.  Although it was a great fight for fans excitement, it certainly spelled out some future business opportunities for the UFC as well:

  • Silva is still marketable. After a fight where he disrespected fans and the UFC, Silva came back and showed why he has been an MMA staple for the past few years.  Silva showed class and respect to the fans and his opponent throughout the fight.  Given the trash talk coming from Sonnen leading up to the fight, this speaks volumes to promoters.  A Silva that can end a fight and not end it with boos can mean a serious revenue to the UFC in future PPV events.
  • Sonnen could see the main even again soon. This fight should have been a loser-go-home match as neither fighter  had a particularly good public image going into this title fight.  Sonnen, for all comments, backed up his skills and brought a good game plan to the fight.  Despite a small argument as to whether or not he tapped, he did remain respectful during the post-fight interview and selected to say he was the “silver medal winner” that night.  Similar to Machida/Rua a rematch could mean big PPV buys and even bigger brand sponsorship.

What did you think of UFC 117?

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