By ALAN SNEL
There’s not a better sports organization in the world that promotes and markets its product better than Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Las Vegas-based UFC is brilliant at creating a spectacle event around its cage fights where MMA combatants punch, kick and choke each other in arena settings across the world. UFC’s in-house conceived footage, TV shows and web content is top-shelf. Its fight production and savvy media techniques are part of the reason why UFC sold for a jaw-dropping $4 billion last year.
But UFC is in virgin territory when it comes to promoting a cross-fight event that pits its premier star — colorful trash-talking Irishman Conor McGregor — in a boxing bout against decorated boxer Floyd Mayweather. UFC is brilliant at promoting its own events and fights.
A boxing match, where only a single UFC star is involved? A whole different animal for UFC.
McGregor is working out at UFC’s world-class Performance Institute, a $14 million 30,000-square-foot building that is the home base for the Irishman’s boxing workouts.
The fight is taking on more of a sports entertainment spectacle than a conventional boxing match, with the undefeated Mayweather (49-0) an overwhelming favorite to beat McGregor at T-Mobile Arena Aug. 26.
In fact, the face of UFC — organization president Dana White — was not there with McGregor when he showed up to work out in front of the media at 2:45 p.m. White is a master promoter, but it appears as if he has allowed Mayweather’s camp and Showtime to take the lead on hyping this event.
White is still playing a strong role in promoting McGregor, though, besides hyping all the other major UFC fights. For example, on Friday night White sent video to LVSportsBiz.com of McGregor sparring with Paulie Malignaggi after Malignaggi took some Twitter swipes at McGregor about their sparring sessions.
McGregor also drew some big ESPN SportsCenter pub, as ESPN did a bit on McGregor’s workout session at UFC Friday and even showed McGregor with his hot wheels in front of UFC’s Performance Institute. SportsCenter’s Kenny Mayne, known for infusing humor into his schtick at ESPN, challenged the Irishman to rock, paper, scissors — a bit you can see here: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=15621372
Obviously, the ESPN exposure was done with the blessing of UFC and White.
On Friday, McGregor hit the bag and worked out in a regulation-sized boxing ring until about 5:10 p.m. He showered, ate and re-appeared for questions.
Hundreds of tickets are still available for the event. They start at around $2,000 and the fight could set records for most lucrative purse and pay-per-view revenues.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com