In theory, the World Tour was a great idea. They hype will certainly last. But in truth, the UFC’s maiden voyage in to the ultimate hype game, a World Tour, was often more farcical than fascinating.
Eight cities in 12 days is an awful lot of mileage to cover for any human being but when you are promoting one of the most anticipated fights in modern MMA “business is business” as featherweight title contender Conor McGregor would say.
Prior to a stellar UFC 185 card, Dana White announced in the obligatory post-fight press conference that champion Jose Aldo and contender Conor McGregor would embark on a ‘World Tour’ ahead of their bout on July 11th in Las Vegas.
Rio, Toronto, Boston, New York, London and Dublin were just some of the cities that the 145lb fighters would visit alongside UFC President Dana White.
Jose Aldo, the current featherweight champion, was given home field advantage as the tour started off in Rio with a hostile crowd reigning down chants of “you will die” to the Dubliner looking to dethrone Aldo at the top of the featherweight division.
A passionate crowd were more concerned with dishing out cheap shots at McGregor who gave as good as good as he got.
This was the tone for the majority of the various press conferences and TV spots each fighter partook in along the way.
The UFC’s popular ‘Embedded’ series showed fans behind the scenes footage of the various altercations between the two fighters and certainly had fight fans around the world pumped up to see the fight.
However, while on a tour with the same crew and the same familiar faces, the promotion of the fight quickly became stale with interviewers hell bent on pursuing the same questions that many others had asked previously.
McGregor made it clear in his post fight press conference in Boston that the media obligations had become tiresome and stale with the same questions coming from different mouths just looking for a quick sound bite.
What was initially a fantastic advertisement for the upcoming bout, it was pretty clear that both Aldo and McGregor were jet-lagged, exhausted and sick to the death of the media obligations outside of the scheduled press conferences.
Of course, fighters play off the crowd and the ‘panto’ shenanigans can add to an atmosphere but you can not help but feel that this is one fight that has been over hyped by the UFC.
Rio was a different story as it was the beginning of the tour with both fighters fresh and willing to participate in back and forth exchanges with each other and fans.
The last fan event and the final stop in Dublin was a whole different story. Most fans having seen the ‘Embedded’ videos and listened to the various comments made by McGregor took on the role of the bully and did their best to rile up the Brazilian champion by calling him all manner of names.
MMA is a growing sport and has a lot of new followers in this part of the world due to Conor McGregor’s success. However, it is comments like this that make long term fans feel a little uneasy given that the sport is attempting to rid itself of the “thug” label. With remarks and “questions” aimed at Jose Aldo, it does not necessarily represent the view of long term mixed martial arts fans on this side of the world who want to bring the sport to the foreground and not relegate it any further.
Shane Saunders, Pundit Arena