Remember the Gobbledygooker?
Back in 1990, the WWF unveiled to its fans a giant egg on a podium, and promised that the contents of said egg would be revealed at the Survivor Series pay-per-view special. It sounded like a dumb idea, but the egg was carted around from show-to-show and promoted so heavily during the lead up to the PPV that fans began to believe that there had to be something truly fantastic inside, something that would change the sport of wrestling. Otherwise why would the WWF give it so much hype?
Then the moment came, and the egg "hatched." Inside was ... a guy in a turkey outfit who danced around with Mean Gene Okerlund.
That was it.
The fans greeted it with a deafening silence, followed by boos.
Well, Dana White has just hatched his own Gobbledygooker.
If you've been following the news on the internet, it wasn't a suprise that Thursday night's special ended with no fight. It was announced two weeks ago that Tito didn't show up for the weigh-in and that the fight was called off. Tito subsequently explained, via his MySpace blog, that he felt the financial terms of the fight weren't acceptable. More on that here and here.
Dana later said he was glad that the lead-up to the fight was videotaped and that it would explain a few things.
That makes one person who's happy it aired. Maybe a few more, counting Spike TV and whoever else profited from the broadcast, which was essentially the Dana White Show.
As for the casual fan who stayed up until 12:30 a.m. believing there actually would be a fight, only to be disappointed, there has to be some enmity after 90 wasted minutes. Not that this will break the sport, but it didn't do much in the way of building credibility or respectibility among potential fans. As it was, the show served White's ego more than it did the UFC's interests.
Maybe Dana couldn't help it that Tito didn't show up for the weigh-in. And maybe the UFC was contractually obligated to give Spike a show that night. But the program could have been promoted in a less misleading way.
From the beginning, the Dana-Tito match had all the makings of a pro-wrestling-style spectacle. And from a promotional point of view, maybe that's not entirely bad. But if Dana White is going to be the Vince McMahon of the 21st century -- and what he and the Fertittas have done for MMA is comparable to McMahon making the once-fragmented world of wrestling a cultural force -- he ought to remember that McMahon become successful by giving the fans what they wanted.
Not by laying a giant egg and telling the unsuspecting public it was golden.