Five years ago this week Nick Diaz was feeling the fallout of skipping his scheduled press conference for his fight against B.J. Penn, and current MMATorch columnist Jason Amadi wrote a column about the importance of hyping fights, a lesson which applies today as well, as was learned (ironically) as much from the Conor McGregor vs. Nick Diaz fights as any in history. Here it is…
According to Dave Meltzer, Nick Diaz no-showing UFC 137 press conferences last week not only cost him his shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship, but a seven figure pay-per-view cut as well. This week, Diaz’s new opponent, B.J. Penn, has also shown an unwillingness to play nice with the UFC when it comes to helping to sell his fight. Penn alleges that he was uncomfortable with being coaxed into trash talk by the UFC while filming hype footage for his upcoming tilt with Nick Diaz.
This led to the UFC releasing video footage of a jovial B.J. Penn laughing it up in “uncut” footage of his interview. Subsequently, Penn released yet another piece of footage which speaks more to what he originally alleged, but is still fairly tame and still in line with what most people imagine when they see UFC hype footage. It’s hard to see anything that crosses a line when it comes to fight hype, especially considering Penn can be seen on camera raising the expectations of the interviewer by referring to himself as “the best in the business at hyping a fight.”
Equally as interesting as the fighters themselves is how their fans stick up for anti-authority exploits. Obviously fans are going to appreciate rebellion from fighters like Penn and Diaz more than they would seeing them kowtow to their Zuffa overlords, but the burden of creating a successful pay-per-view offering shouldn’t begin and end with the promoter; fighters not only share in the responsibility that goes along with hyping a pay-per-view, but they also reap the benefits.
Penn and Diaz’s recent crusade against UFC hype dovetails nicely with boxing’s best pay-per-view seller Floyd Mayweather competing this Saturday night. For as much as the “Money Mayweather” persona polarizes fight fans, his success on pay-per-view speaks volumes about the effectiveness of going the extra mile to hype a fight. Floyd Mayweather and his opponent Victor Ortiz, did an absolutely masterful job at hyping their bout on HBO’s 24/7, and now depending on who you ask, their fight this Saturday night could bring in between 1.4 and 2 million pay-per-view buys.
Perhaps the strength of the UFC brand sometimes suggests otherwise, but UFC logos aren’t enough to convince people to part with their hard earned money. Fans can puff their chests out and feign support of the anti-authority shenanigans of fighters like Penn and Diaz, but the pay-per-view success of fighters like Floyd Mayweather speaks volumes about the benefits of hyping fights.
<i>Feel free to follow me on Twitter @JasonAmadi. It’s hard to decide whether feigning apathy or manufacturing hype would get me more followers.</i>