UFC president Dana White went on the offensive through Twitter recently, firing back at an article entitled “The hard sell: Renan Barao is the world’s best fighter.”
The column, written by MMAjunkie.com’s Ben Fowlkes, does an excellent job of breaking down why Barao has failed to register with the casual UFC fan, but also makes sure to provide you with the reasons behind White’s continued push to bring him into the forefront.
A 33-fight unbeaten streak. The UFC bantamweight title. Wins over Urijah Faber (twice), Michael McDonald, Eddie Wineland and others. He returns to action this Saturday against T.J. Dillashaw in the main event of UFC 173.
Barao is one of the elite fighters in the world, that is a point that cannot be argued.
Is he the best right now? That is up for debate, especially in a time of MMA with the likes of Jon Jones, Chris Weidman, Jose Aldo, Cain Velasquez, Demetrious Johnson, Anthony Pettis and Ronda Rousey dominating foe after foe after foe.
As he does, White responded in typical Dana White fashion, posting on Twitter to Fowlkes that “if you don’t know how good Renan is (you) should cover another sport.” White referred to parts of the story as being a “stupid statement” and said again that Barao is a “BAD ASS who finishes people. If (your) a fight fan he’s what (you) are looking for.”
White isn’t going to back down from anybody, as he’s shown in the past, but he hit the nail on the head for me with the last comment mentioned.
“If (your) a fight fan he’s what (you) are looking for.”
The term “fight fan” is difficult to distinguish and White should know that first-hand. You have those that will watch each and every single MMA fight they can get in front of, whether it be on television or via online stream. They are the die-hard fans, the ones who could care less if it’s two nobodies or has-been fighters, or a match for a world title.
You also have the type of fan who will catch the main cards, such as pay-per-view ones and others that air on major networks, or will watch a smaller one if it happens to fit their schedule. Maybe they DVR some of the other events, but they know the majority of the fighters.
Another group is the fight fan who wants nothing more than blood. They don’t care about skills or techniques or seeing wrestling or grappling, they just want fists after fists after fists to the face.
There are other categories of fans, such as the casual ones who will “talk shop” when Jones, Velasquez, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva or Nick Diaz are competing or the hot topic,” but those fans aren’t interested in Barao.
And neither are the majority of the other ones.
It’s a cold-hard fact that if you can’t speak the language, it’s nearly impossible to gain a strong following in the U.S. Sure, Barao can become a star in Brazil, but the UFC remains focused on becoming a major sport here still, and to do that, they need champions that will be widely accepted.
People didn’t really open up to Silva much during his title reign, and a lot of that had to do with his decision to not speak English while promoting fights.
Barao can continue to finish fighters and leave them in his path, but unless he starts conducting his post-fight interviews in English, he’s going to remain behind the eight-ball in the fan pound-for-pound rankings – and the more important rankings, that of PPV buy rates and television ratings.