Fighters Fail To Promote Themselves


There has been much talk of late about fighter pay and all who might know, would be aware of the fact that I believe it could be better.

With that said, I began to consider some of (UFC Executive Vice President of Business Development) Chuck Liddell’s remarks from this past week and in particular, from the point-of-view of fighter self-promotion.

Liddell Stated:

“You’re startin’ out no one knows who you are. No one cares. You don’t get paid, period. It’s simple.”

“If you’re an entertaining fighter… (and) they want to see you fight you’ll get paid…the guys at the top are the fighters that are supposed to get paid, because they’re the guys that are bringing people in, they’re bringing eyes to the TV, getting pay-per-views buys, and putting people in the seats. I mean, that’s what it comes down to. You want to get that, beat everybody.”

Buried within that is a simple truth for fighters and that is this, a fighter must promote him or herself and that promotion is not just going to happen; a fighter must make it happen.

If we read between the lines, what Liddell is really saying is that not only do fighters have to put on amazing performances in the Octagon, but that they also have to be known to the fans.

To this point, we should be shocked at how little self-promotion the fighters do. In particular, they fail to use social media to its fullest extent and capitalize on it. The even stranger thing is that even without raising the issue of lesser known fighters, that even champions, contenders and ranked fighters fail to make full use of social media and to Liddell’s point, if the fans don’t know who you are ‘you don’t get paid.”

Many fighters seem to think that simply because they’re on Facebook or Twitter, that the job is done. Yet, most fighters fail to have their own YouTube channels or websites. Most seem to miss the point that they need to update their online presence regularly and to do so with fresh and current material.

Simply put, a fighter cannot rely solely on their Octagon performances and the 2 or 3 fights they may get per year and the “X” amount of camera time that might come with it, to wow the fans and to the point of remembering who they are and / or caring. They must build a following and a relationship with both their current and prospective fans and a significant portion of that is going to happen outside the Octagon and more so, online.

It’s easy to see what Liddell means when he says “no one knows who you are”, because fans don’t, at least not casual the fans and in order to follow fighters properly, a fan (hardcore or casual) not only has to dig, but want to dig and even if they do, there is probably nothing to find.

Even if we look at the 3 biggest names in MMA (GSP, Silva, Jones) even they are spotty regarding their online presences. Of course, the advantage to them is that people already know who they are and that they are already getting paid. However and nonetheless, there is precious little (online) between fights for their fans to enjoy and to sustain themselves on and given that they all have money and could hire someone to do the work for them, it becomes even more frustrating and less understandable, as to why they don’t have a greater online presences.

Of fighters on the make, consider the case of Johnny Hendricks as an example. Big Rig has a huge fight coming up against GSP on November 16th, yet and other than giving an interview if someone calls him, he has done and is doing nothing to promote either himself or his fight. He has no official YouTube channel or website; he’s posting no videos or photos of himself in the run-up to the fight, subsequently, there’s nothing to follow or keep up with. Sadly, the same is also true of GSP, but again, he’s already getting paid.

Fighters who are breaking into the UFC seem to be in even worse shape and understand the point even less.

Put it all together and one can begin to understand Liddell’s and the UFC’s point on higher fighter pay. Fighters need to give the promoter more to promote and more to work with, then just the fights. They need to produce an online presence and one with regularly updated content that garners fan attention and gives the UFC a reason to pay them more.

The facts are such, that fighters spend more time out of the Octagon than in it and if they want fans to “know” who they are and in an effort to get larger paychecks, then they need to start leveraging the internet more effectively and giving the fans something to chew on regularly; particularly between and leading up to, bouts.   

On this subject, it would be well-and-fair for White or Liddell to ask fighters, “Other than fighting what are you doing to get known?”

  • @Brian…If you take a look at alot of the press conferences, alot of the fighters on the main card never even get asked a question by the journalists. Its usually directed at the main event fighters and maybe one or two other fighters depending on where the controversy lies.

    Alot of these guys are fighting only twice per year. When Chuck Liddell was in his prime in the early beginnings there weren't as many weight classes or fighters, plus Dana was promoting the hell out of him, plus he was talented.

    Guys now can easily get lost in a 400 strong roster especially if they are not overly exciting
    You start knocking people out and you get noticed pretty fast. Take a look at Uriah Hall. But it can be short lived in this business

    • This points you raise is the point Liddell was trying to make, I think.

      Fighters have to do more than just win or even win impressively in the ring. They have to cultivate their fans. If all a fighter is doing is twitter and an interview when someone calls, a Facebook update once a week etc…then they're missing the boat on getting known and getting paid.

      I think if you peel back the layers of the onion, fighters not promoting themselves would be one of Liddell's points. In this day and age and with so many fighters, it has to be about more than your (tops) 15 minutes in the ring twice a year.

      As I said about the top 3, if you look at GSP's social media it's a joke. I mean the guy is the biggest draw in the UFC, the biggest star athlete in Canada, he has fans all over the world and has made millions in the UFC as a champion, but he puts up almost nothing about his training or his life or whatever. So, if you're really into him as a fan and you want to keep up with him, there's nothing to keep up with. There's nothing to endear or continue to endear you to with your fans, but the fights. That could become problematic if you begin to loose.

      30 minutes a year in front of the camera isn't going to get the job done. Turn on those phones or SLRs' and start shooting videos and taking pictures and posting them and start doing it regularly.

      It'll pay-off. It'll pay-off with the UFC and it'll pay-off with more sponsorships and opportunities.

      • Promotion is definetly important..and I think alot of fighters can thank TUF for putting them on the map along with exciting fights..

        Remember when Chris Weidman bashed Munoz. That fight really sealed his title shot and awoke many non chris weidman believers. So performance is everything in this business.

        Also, if it wasn't for TUF Chris Leben and Josh Koscheck would probably be half as popular as they are today.

        Some musicians like Prince prefer to keep very private lives to create a mystique about them. The less you know the more you want to know. The UFC however will torment you with cameras if you get to a title shot. Other than that the UFC just focus on the main card highlight reels for most guys so anyone on the undercard is going to get very little mention.

        So the fastest way to promotion is probably being a part of TUF and being a savage in the cage. The other guys who got names came from pride or strikeforce like wanderlie.

        • Enjoy, but we also have to factor in the "Farmer Sonnen" effect and how he "milked" the system for 3 title shots and a chair over at UFC tonight and FOX Sports.

          It boggles the mind, but proves the point, how Sonnen has take his record and built himself up into something that he clearly is not and that's not even taking into consideration, that through all of it, he caught cheating by in one of his fights (a clerical misunderstanding on Sonnen's account) and that he actually has a "criminal record", not just an UFC or MMA record.

          I am waiting for the fighter genius with some talent to show up and put it all together; be good and don't be timid. Call other fighters out, state your mind and allow fans into your life. Make their presence known on the net. Don't be a once or twice a year story and even then, when your competing with maybe 20 other guys once or twice a year stories.

          You raised the issue of Chris Weidman and rightfully, so. You look at Chris coming off of his win and then two surgeries, the guy all but vanished. I hate to say this, but it took Hurricane Sandy to put him back in the news. That's just flat out wrong and business stupid.

          The biggest complete about him from Silva prior to taking the fight, was that he wasn't famous enough. From Silva's POV, he has a point. Of course he won't next time, but he did the first time through, Chris isn't doing what Liddell said and that's putting a***s in the seats. To a fighter like Silva, fighting a guy the fans don't know and won't buy, is a bad deal and I get that, now.

          The moment Silva or his camp made that crack, Weidman should have lit him up online and made a big deal out of it, created some buzz, but…he did nothing and when I say nothing, I include calling or Tweeting Dana and asking for a fight, as nothing.

          Belfort right now is making the same mistake. Take the battle online Vitor! Make a million people call you and say either, give my boy this fight…or have them Tweet Dana and say, give Belfort the fight so I can see him get killed. Make the fans either love your or hate you, bot don't be a nothing and that's what most fighters are doing, right now…nothing.

          The have no online presence that would be worth talking about and I couldn't name 1, that's doing what I'm talking about and the only reason I'm talking about it is, because Chuck Liddell made a subtle or unintended point. Either way, he was right.

          • You either have to have
            1.*** appeal (like Rhonda rousey)
            2.Charismatic like Chael Sonnen
            3.scary as hell like Mike Tyson.
            4.Amazing record like fedor emelinanenko

            If you don't have any of these qualities you will find it hard getting noticed.

          • Or wear pink at every event….uhh ok dont do that.

  • GSP doesnt self promote via social media, etc…he has a team of people sending the tweets for him, lol ( that cartoon )

    • Even if true and even if he put up 100 tweets a day, it's not enough. A fighter has to be doing video, answering fan questions, posting pictures and doing it all the time. GSP is definitely not doing that, for sure.

      A guy like a GSP or Silva could hire someone to shoot the videos, pictures, do the rendering, posting all that stuff, but at the end of the day, the fans want to see their fighters and hear from them and a "lackey" can't sit in for them. It would be noticed. 🙂

  • Machida got known for talent alone. He's got the personality of a doorknob.

    • Entity, I think the question in terms of Machida (and I'm a fan) and in terms of this question would be, how much is he making and could / should he be making more.

      Lyoto is one guy that I'd definitely say has no online presence and certainly not for the North American market and his fans, here or in Europe for that matter. Machida is a big name in the UFC and for a reason, he's talented, but where he has wow performances and then, not so wow performances, he is most certainly a guy that could benefit for an online presence.

      I hate to say this, but this is simple stuff, man. Grab a camera shoot a couple of videos a week, take some pictures, answer some fan question, shoot your mouth off about how great your are, call out fighters in your division, respectfully criticize them…come on, how hard can this be? This is a formula. Just follow the recipe and you'll have success, at least outside of the Octagon. Success being defined as getting "known".

      It breaks my heart to honest that fighters work so hard in the gym 365 days a year, but work so poorly online and then pay for it come contract negotiations, because the UFC (probably) shows them the numbers and says…fans don't know you you are and don't care. It's a shame.

      There is the cage performance and then there is the online performance and most fighters are failing in the latter; IMO.

      • I agree…..and your reply made me feel like a slacker for only writing 2 sentences 8P