“… I like Vince, I have a good relationship with Vince, but I think it’s
in his nature, as a competitor and as a human being, it’s the way Vince
is built. Whatever.” — UFC President, Dana White.
Courtesy of; cagesideseats.com
Despite some verbal animosity in recent years between one Vince McMahon; CEO and Chairman of WWE, and Dana White; President of the UFC, relations between the two have always been, seemingly, amicable and professional. At least, when voiced from the perspective of the UFC President.
White has always remarked with things like, “I have nothing but love for Vince.” Or, “I have all the respect in the world for Vince.” Although, on the other end of the spectrum, after a challenge issued by Vince to Dana for a “Fight” between the two of them, White flat-out and blatantly said that McMahon is, “a maniac!” For those who may be unaware, in recent years, WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon, called Dana White during a WrestleMania season, and reportedly said to the UFC President, “Hey, let’s have a fight. We could fight in the UFC, or we could do a Wrestling Match in the WWE. Either way.”
To which, obviously, White rejected the proposal from Vince. But the question is, why? There are a lot of reasons to argue in-favor of that kind of cross-brand promotional material. Admittedly, when it comes to a Television Audience, UFC’s ratings are abysmal, compared to the Television Ratings that the WWE brings in on a Weekly Basis– It’s been noted that on most instances, even Twice-Run episodes of WWE’s “Smackdown,” which is considered to be the “B-Show” of the company, draws better Cable-Television ratings than UFC on FX does (Though granted, UFC on FX doesn’t get NEARLY the media-advertisement resources that WWE’s RAW and Smackdown receive).
While on the other end of the Spectrum, as both companies are in the PPV industry, UFC’s PPV numbers are usually a good deal HIGHER than the WWE’s PPV purchase numbers. Arguably, this could be beneficial for both companies, couldn’t it? WWE would reach a new audience, in the way of UFC fans who aren’t WWE fans, or the UFC, in a WWE venue, would reach an audience of WWE fans who may not be UFC fans.
Surely, a Cross-Promotional fight between two of the top names in Sports and Entertainment would be a great, potential ratings-boost for both companies, wouldn’t it? So why is it that Dana White seems to avoid the idea of cross-promotional events and even advertisements with WWE, or even TNA?
One Word: “Legitimacy”.
This wasn’t McMahon’s only attempt at getting a UFC/WWE cross-promotional event, either. Some of you may recall the infamous “Undertaker Encounter” with Brock Lesnar, after one of Lesnar’s UFC Fights. An event which was, allegedly, planned in advance between Mark (The Undertaker) and Brock Lesnar. And for those of you who have NO idea of what I’m talking about, let me provide you with a video-link, here.
The speculation behind this, by many fans and analysts, was that Vince McMahon was determined to find a means of having a match between a UFC and WWE competitor, with his hope being that it would take place either at Wrestlemania or at one of the pre-cursor PPV’s to Wrestlemania (Royal Rumble or Eliminaiton Chamber). The belief was that, given Brock Lesnar’s at-the-time, former WWE connection and his friendship with The Undertaker, outside of the industry, that if Undertaker and Lesnar could make a convincing appeal to Dana White, he would be more likely to agree to a cross-promotional event, and allow then-UFC Champion Lesnar to face-off against Undertaker, in either a Wrestling Match, or “MMA-Style” match, at one of the aforementioned PPV’s.
White, however, was adamant in his position that stated that as long as Lesnar, or any other fighter was under contract to him, they would not be allowed to work for WWE in a Competitive Venue (interesting to note, however, that he DID allow for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to appear on WWE’s RAW, to promote the “A-Team” movie that Rampage co-starred in. Again, however, Rampage didn’t compete, or even throw a punch at any of the Superstars).
Again, the word on Dana White’s mind has got to be, “Legitimacy.”
Why “Legitimacy”? Because, unlike in the WWE, for a company like the UFC, which is a legitimate Sport, and not just Scripted-Entertainment, legitimacy is the crucial key to keeping his company alive and growing. Whether WWE supporters and fans, or Vince McMahon, himself, likes it or not, an organization like WWE or even on a smaller scale, TNA, are the quickest route to making his company and product fall under intense scrutiny, and look, for lack of a better term, “Fake.” And White is a smart-enough business man to KNOW this is the case.
Many people have speculated that it’s because White doesn’t take “Wrestlers” seriously, as athletes. However, I would strongly disagree with that sentiment; Dana White was notably eager to try and sign Brock Lesnar to a UFC contract, after he left the WWE (and NFL), once Brock Lesnar decided to pursue an MMA career. Short-lived as it was, he recognized the incredible athletic-ability of Brock Lesnar, and more-so, recognized that the publicity Lesnar’s name had, from being in the WWE, presented an incredible opportunity to draw ratings to his product.
Dana White isn’t a fool, people. He knew Lesnar had a loyal fan-base in WWE, and that even Wrestling fans who had never ordered a UFC PPV before, would order a UFC PPV to see Brock Lesnar compete for the Heavyweight Championship. Dana White has even had notable appearances in recent weeks with (former*) WWE Superstar, CM Punk. Furthermore, Dana White, himself, has stated that he used to watch Pro-Wrestling, “growing up, as a kid.”
So, no. It’s never been the fact that Dana White dislikes WWE’s wrestlers or fans. In fact, he claims to be (or at least, have been) a fan, himself. It’s simply a matter of knowing what’s “Best for Business,” and what’s “Professional Poison” for his company. As it is, there are many people who are aware of UFC’s existence, but you still have persistent skeptics of the industry, who believe, or suspect, that UFC is, “Scripted,” or “Rigged.” The skeptics who refuse to watch the product because they don’t believe it’s legitimate.
And with some questionable “judge-decisions” and officiating-calls in some recent matches (GSP vs. Hendricks, anyone?), now, more than ever, the UFC has been put under some intense scrutiny by fans, who speculate that certain fights may have been “fixed.”
Do I, personally, believe the fights were rigged or fixed? No. Now, that isn’t to say I AGREE with the results of the fights– Personally, even as a big GSP fan, I still contend that he lost that match to Hendricks– but that aside, with a myriad of “dodgy” officiating and questionable judging, the UFC is in a very precarious position with it’s skeptics and naysayers, and even some of it’s fans, right now.