Dana White is a master promoter. We've seen enough evidence over the years to know that he believes fully in his product, and he's willing to take on one of the most hectic work schedules I've ever seen in order to accomplish his mission of spreading the UFC brand throughout the world. I don't know if White actually believes his promise that MMA will be the biggest sport in the world—I can't imagine he truly believes it will ever overtake soccer—but he says it often enough that it makes you think maybe, just maybe, he actually believes it.
But then again, White says a lot of things, and it's often difficult to figure out where the beliefs stop and the promoting begins.
For example, you have his thoughts on a potential super fight between Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. When asked by fans during a Tuesday live web chat if that fight will ever happen, White adamantly responded:
"I guarantee you Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones will absolutely happen," White said. "It's happening. It will happen."
Here's the thing: I have great respect for White's devotion to his product, and for his willingness to try and please the fans. That's one quality that makes him the perfect front-man for the UFC and for the fight business as a whole. And when he says he's going to make Anderson Silva and Jon Jones fight each other—despite both men not really being all that into the idea—I firmly believe that he'll try, or at least he thinks he'll try, to make the fight happen.
But when you start throwing around terms like "guarantee" and "absolutely," you're treading on dangerous ground. What happens if Silva takes a fight against Georges St-Pierre, wins and then rides off into the sunset? Or if Jones decides that he's had enough of light heavyweight by the end of 2013 and bulks up to heavyweight? Both of those, mind you, are not impossible scenarios.
When you start promising the fans big things and then, for whatever reason, you can't deliver, that's when folks start getting a little bit disillusioned with your product. They may not depart in droves, but they'll remember all the promises that were made that just couldn't be kept.
I do believe White will do everything in his power to make Jones vs. Silva happen. And if I were a betting man, I'd say there's a pretty good chance that we'll see those two square off in the Octagon by the middle of 2014. For all of the talk from Silva and Jones about not wanting to ruin the other's legacy—and that seems a bit like trash talk, if you ask me—there will come a time when each man decides that they want to establish themselves as the greatest in the history of the sport, and they'll realize that the path to doing so goes through the other man. It will happen. It's just a matter of time.
But that doesn't change the fact that speaking in absolutes like this, well, it just isn't a good idea. I love the passion that White has for his business, and I love the fact that he listens to the fans and does everything in his power to please them.
But making promises that you don't absolutely know you can keep? That's one way to start driving people away, and that's never a good idea.
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