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Boxing Promoters could learn something from Dana White

By Leo Kapakos: This past weekend, UFC 118 drew a crowd of approximately 15,000 spectators at TD Garden in Boston for a gate of $3 million. The average ticket price was $250. You have to admit that‘s a pretty impressive turnout particularly during a recession. If you then consider that the two biggest draws in boxing today Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto drew 15,900 spectators for their fight at the MGM Grand the attendance for UFC 118 is even more impressive.

So why has the sport of MMA become so popular? I can sum it up in two words – Dana White. No matter what you think of the outspoken, brash, and potty mouthed President/ promoter of the largest and most respected MMA promotions company in the U.S., this guy is a marketing genius. Since buying the UFC in 2001 at a bargain basement price of $2 mio with help from boyhood chums and casino execs Frank and Lorenzo Fertita, White has single-handedly turned this company into an estimated billion dollar success. How? White has been on a rampage (and no pun intended for those familiar with UFC fighters) over the last several years promoting the sport of MMA and the UFC brand all over the world. To date, UFC events have been held in Canada, the U.K. Germany, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Middle East, China, South Korea and India are next stops on White’s radar. White has also been relentless in his pursuit to get the sport sanctioned in every U.S. state and I don’t believe he’ll stop until he does.

While White is doing a great job showcasing the UFC through shows like “The Ultimate Fighter” and appearances on TV and radio it’s really his savvy use of social media that differentiates this promoter from the rest. The man is constantly on the WEB, specifically “Twitter”, staying in touch with UFC fans all over the world on a daily basis. A self-proclaimed “Twitter lover”, he currently has over 1 mio followers on Twitter. Dana White understands very well that tweets equal dollars and answers every tweet from a fan base that ranges from your average Joe to celebs to politicians. White’s other web tool are his video blogs leading up to UFC events. In his blogs, White shares info with fans about the status and preparation of the fighters, talks about the fights, and often shows behind-the-scenes stuff going on at the event. On occasion he also does random video blogs where he takes you into his personal life which often comes off as a bit self-adulating. Okay Dana, we know you’ve done well, drive a nice Ferrari and can hang out with Mike Tyson – enough already. The bottom line is that White, like him or hate him, is accessible to his fans and they love that.

So, what about the sport I love, boxing. What are boxing promoters doing to put on great fights and showcase the great sport of boxing? Not enough. HBO is breathing some life back to boxing with the “24/7” series that’s been well-received by the public. Politics aside, what boxing could also use are better stacked undercards, fewer championship belts in the same weight class, fewer mismatches that feature prospects vs. no-hopers. Finally to the promoters out there, maybe you should take heed from Dana White. De la Hoya’s last twitter was Sept.2009 and he currently has 9,910 followers versus White’s 1,177,000. Wake the hell up already.

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