There’s no love lost between boxing promoter Bob Arum and UFC president Dana White, and Arum couldn’t resist taking a swipe at the MMA promotion after their much-anticipated heavyweight title fight lasted just 64 seconds during it’s primetime debut on FOX on Saturday night.
“They thought they would hurt us,” Arum told the NYPost of the UFC’s show which aired just an hour prior to his boxing PPV featuring superstar Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. “Instead they got hurt because they got buried. But I think the fact they’re just on for an hour helps us.”
It’s a typically overblown and ill-informed opinion for Arum.
For one thing, since the UFC On FOX event was first announced Dana White has pointed out on numerous occasions that the two events would not overlap so fight fans wouldn’t be forced to choose one or the other.
Secondly, it’s an over-exaggeration to say the event was “buried” on Saturday night – an average of 5.7 million viewers watched the hour long show, which isn’t a mind-blowing number, but still makes it the most watched UFC event of all time and was the most watched program of the evening for key demographics such as 18-34 and 18-49 adults.
In terms of press coverage the boxing event did eclipse the UFC event, but did anyone expect anything different?
MMA is just beginning it’s journey into the mainstream while boxing is long since established and in Pacquiao has a genuine global superstar of the kind that very few sports can emulate at this moment in time.
The problem for boxing is that they are leaning far too heavily on the Filipino star in order to continue to remain relevant and successful.
That manifested itself on Saturday night when Marquez appeared to have bested him over 12 rounds, but yet somehow the judges somehow contrived to give Pacquiao a majority decision victory.
While Arum may rejoice in the fact that his event received more column inches than the UFC, the reality is that post-fight, 99% of those articles were centered on the controversial decision and the scent of corruption that stems from the sport’s golden boy being spared a loss on his record that could have seriously impacted on business in the future.
Meanwhile the UFC’s night didn’t run smoothly either given the quick KO finish, but in Junior Dos Santos they now have a new hard-hitting heavyweight champion in his prime at 27 years of age. Though he may not have been well known prior to the event, millions more people in the U.S, and tens of millions back in his native Brazil where the event was aired on major station ‘Globo’ have now witnessed him in action, helping him take a major step towards stardom.
He is just one of dozens of fighters on the UFC’s roster that are also hungry for mainstream recognition, and when the UFC’s deal with FOX officially starts in January of 2012, bringing with it live events and shows spread across ‘big’ FOX, FX and Fuel TV for the next seven years, they are going to have plenty of opportunities to step into the spotlight.
For Arum, 2012 will be all about seeing how much longer he can milk ageing stars like Pacquiao (32) and Mayweather (34) on pay-per-view, while the UFC will be busy building the stars of the future on network television.