The Importance of two UFC post-fight promos
The announcement of the formation of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA) has inadvertently made UFC 206 a much more intriguing card. Sure, the fight lineup is still lackluster, but the post-fight interviews of two MMAAA representatives can truly leave a lasting mark on the sport.
Donald Cerrone and Tim Kennedy will never be described as timid speakers or apprehensive fighters. However, at UFC 206 the two MMA veterans will enter into a phase of their respective careers where they will be required to be more outspoken than ever before.
Cerrone and Kennedy join T.J. Dillashaw and Cain Velasquez as active fighters who represent the MMAAA in their quest to represent the interests of fighters. (Georges St. Pierre and Bellator founder Bjorn Rebney are also involved in the association.)
With UFC 206 occurring a mere ten days after the announcement of the MMAAA, Cerrone’s and Kennedy’s scheduled fights feel less consequential, while the words they speak to Joe Rogan will have a unique reach that a conference call could never accomplish.
Normally, the post-fight promo serves as a platform for the victorious fighter to praise his or her fight team, mention a sponsor, and most importantly call out a future more lucrative opponent. If the losing fighter is prominent enough (and coherent), he or she is usually granted the opportunity to perform a brief fight autopsy and forecast their future.
In the case of Cerrone and Kennedy, their future appears to be less tied up in future matchups, and more focused on the rights of past, present, and future fighters.
It is true that these two men can answer a bevy of questions on the topic in interviews and post-fight press conferences, but if they address the elephant in the room, inside of the Octagon, their statements become part of permanent UFC cannon.
Those who read MMA websites and watch interview clips on YouTube are likely well aware of the issues and inequities that fighters face, but a message sent on a Fox Sports 1 broadcast or a pay-per-view telecast is sent directly to ardent and casual UFC fans/media alike.
Spreading their message on a UFC sanctioned event also puts the onus on the UFC to handle the situation in a public manner.
If the UFC were to cut the promo short, not post the clip to their YouTube channel, or ignore them on the FS1 “UFC Post Fight Show,” the promotion would blatantly come across as an organization that silences dissent in order to maintain the status quo.
Some may disagree with these athletes for airing their financial and systemic grievances during an athletic competition, but precedent for these things to exist in recent memory.
Although not a perfect analogy, recall the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament where University of Connecticut standout guard, Shabazz Napier used the platform to speak out against the NCAA’s treatment of student athletes.
It’s arguable whether Napier’s statements have had any tangible impact, but it is inarguable that the conversation was elevated by being on such a public platform and, in fact, mainstream voices like comedian/social critic John Oliver have devoted television time to dissecting the issue.
In a perfect world, the same would happen for these fighters who feel marginalized, but in order for that happen the issue needs to be presented to an audience outside of the MMA blogosphere.
The MMAAA is different from other similar organizations because of its association with active high profile fighters. In Cerrone and Kennedy, the MMAAA has two perfect vessels to spread its message.
The outspoken military veteran (Kennedy) and the rambunctious “Cowboy” (Cerrone) are both relevant and credible enough to be active voices of change. It’s completely up to them if they use those voices.
The formation of the MMAAA has yielded several interesting opinion pieces among the MMA media
Here are two highly recommended reads:
Emergence of MMAAA effectively deals blow to fear culture in UFC by Chuck Mindenhall
New MMA Athletes Association Offers Soul, but Path to Power Is Muddy by Mike Chiappetta
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S MEDIA & BUSINESS COLUMN: It’s time to stop grading Bellator on a curve – they have advantages over UFC in the cable ratings category, but it’s not showing
(Robert Vallejos writes a new Specialist column for MMATorch titled “Media & Business” focused on, you guessed it, the media coverage of MMA and the business side of MMA. He is fascinated by the presentation, business decisions, media strategy, and press coverage of both UFC and MMA as a whole, and will bring that curiosity to explore and delve into that side of MMA to his weekly Specialist column here at MMATorch. He explains his approach: “As a sport in its relative infancy, MMA does not receive the same level of scrutiny and informed analysis from the sports media as other more established entities. This is why it is vital for independent outlets such MMATorch to grow, while featuring a variety of voices. Unlike mainstream outlets, MMATorch is not beholden to any organization. Therefore I believe it is essential for individuals such as myself to explain not only the ‘what’ but also the ‘why’ of MMA.”)