My day often consists of staring at various e-mail inboxes, waiting for something to come in. I can’t tell you how many times a day I get excited to see a new e-mail, only to be left in utter disappointment after it turns out to be nothing but another 20% off sale at Chico’s or some other store my mom has shopped at in the past and given my e-mail address for some promotion.
Every so often, however, something comes in that excites me. That happened today, when I got one of the many e-mails I get from the UFC (I may or may not have signed up for three different newsletter accounts for purposes I forget at this time, so I really do get them all the time). This afternoon’s was centered around tickets going on sale for UFC on Fox 6, scheduled to take place this January in Chicago. What excited me more than anything was the promotional banner that came with the otherwise-generic ticket shill:
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t excited by the extremely standard “face-off” banner image that the UFC has been using for about 10 years to promote fights. Instead, I got excited by the two faces on it, and the fact that those are the only two faces on it: UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson and challenger John Dodson.
The current main card for UFC on Fox 6 is scheduled to include the aforementioned title fight, Cowboy Cerrone against Anthony Pettis in a likely title eliminator, and Rampage Jackson’s potential farewell fight against fast-rising Glover Teixeira. The latter two fights almost certainly hold greater marketing appeal for the UFC as it seeks to connect with the “casual” fans on Fox. Rampage is undoubtedly the biggest name in this regard, having fought in many pay per view main events and appeared in many mediocre movies, while the Cerrone and Pettis match-up can create one of the most impressive highlight preview videos the UFC could create. But, unlike these fights, Johnson-Dodson is for a title, and therefore takes its spot atop the card as the headliner.
And rightfully so. Gone are the days when Ken Shamrock and Kimo can headline a pay per view because they are “bigger names” than the undercard fighters vying for a UFC title (this really happened – and less than 10 years ago). If the UFC is going to continue to establish itself as a mainstream sport in the eyes of casual sports fans, it will have to carry itself as a mainstream sport, and continue to stress the importance of its titles. There’s no better way of doing that then promoting a title fight as the undisputed main event, notwithstanding the presence of some bigger “draws” on the undercard.
It is especially nice to see the UFC going all in with its flyweight division on Fox, as the weight class had been promised for so long it was starting to seem like a mirage, and was bumped out of a pay per view headline spot by an impromptu Jon Jones appearance a couple of months ago. Hopefully this trend will continue when the UFC announces its
Ronda Rousey Women’s Division.