UFC 167, Chael Sonnen, and the issue of promotion

You know when Chael Sonnen opens his mouth (or gets his typing fingers going a la Twitter), something interesting is going to emerge.

Cue Mr. Sonnen. Via MMAMania.com, Sonnen spoke on TapouT Radio on SiriusXM yesterday and commented about the job his bosses at the UFC have done promoting UFC 167:

“…outside of my fight and St. Pierre’s, I don’t know who else is fighting that night.  The card as a whole has not been promoted. I think when you have Georges St. Pierre on a card, that at times they view that as enough. And it appears that that’s the case.”

Sonnen makes a great point. But without the strength of a union, it is a moot one for most fighters.

This is nothing new for the UFC. They often leverage the power of a single fighter for PPV cards. It is the individual fighter who people are there to watch. If the UFC felt a huge name such as GSP, Anderson Silva or Jon Jones is all it takes to win the derby, then they ride that horse. In the case of UFC 167, the UFC appears to think GSP is enough to sell it.

Conversely, this top-heavy tactic is often use by the UFC to promote weak cards, leveraging a name fighter to draw in the PPV numbers. Check the cards that Jones had headlined in the past and you will notice how incredibly weak they are. So in a way a lot of less known fighters benefit when a big name like Jones headlines their card because he draws them in.

The issue is this tactic is more often a disservice to the other fighters. The individual brand of each fighter who isn’t promoted suffers without the hype the UFC can provide. Fighters raise the issue about the lack of visibility they earn for their sponsors all the time – and this is directly tied to how well the UFC can promote that individual, as well. The FD thinks Sonnen is coming from. He says as much.

While it appears Sonnen is railing for his own purposes, he is voicing a majority concern. Sonnen – unlike most fighters – is a master of self-promotion. Not being given the chance to do his thing to its full potential irks him. Except he has a great ability to do it without the UFC anyways. Most other fighters do not have his charisma and self-promoting powers.

It is certainly an issue how a fight card is promoted. While it can be used to help a lot of fighters get eyeballs on their fights, it more often stunts their potential exposure through pre-fight hype. Unfortunately, it’s another thing for fighters they cannot control.

For your perusal, here is a look at how stacked the UFC 167 card actually is:

MAIN CARD

Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks – for welterweight title

Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen

Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald

Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley

Ali Bagautinov vs. Timothy Elliott

PRELIMINARY CARD

Donald Cerrone vs. Evan Dunham

Ed Herman vs. Thales Leites

Brian Ebersole vs. Rick Story

Edwin Figueroa vs. Erik Perez

PRELIMINARY CARD

Jason High vs. Anthony Lapsley

Vaughan Lee vs. Sergio Pettis

Cody Donovan vs. Gian Villante

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