The UFC Understands Public Relations; Bellator Does Not

"The telling of stories create the real world." - Alberto Manguel

If you adore PR conversations in all forms, stay tuned. If you love mixed martial arts, this is a PR story you can appreciate and not feel guilty about.

And for the rest of you, we apologize.

This story is about the much-ado-about-nothing Bellator 149 “super matches” concerning two street fighters gone MMA and two legendary MMA fighters gone street.

It was a major coup for Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 to get inside the cage, and even more impressive to get Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie back into a cage for the first time in more than 20 years. Now, with two out-of-shape slobs running out of gas and an errant knee to the crotch unseen by an incompetent referee, the media is destroying Bellator 149 and its promoters aren’t saying a word.

gracie shamrockIf you have watched UFC for any amount of time, you know that Dana White, UFC president and minority partner, is no Don King (thank God).

He doesn’t “promote” major fights; he lets the media do that. However, that’s the secret to his skill — he allows the media to know UFC’s best fighters first.

Names, from Anderson Silva to Jon Jones, Conor McGregor to Daniel Cormier have trended on social media (and then there’s that Ronda Rousey chick), been repeated in the elevator, and reported on the morning news.

As we know concerning the brass behind all the brands we represent, all people have a story to tell — but only the best are worth sharing. The UFC finds the stories within the fighters and shares them before and after the billed clashes.

Bellator president Scott Coker believes not in PR, but in publicity.

Public relations believes in building a story; publicity is shouting headlines and not caring if anyone reads them. Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 are two of the most feared and “viral video” street fighters ever. And then this happened:


Months of waiting. Hours of anticipation. And 16 minutes of meh.

Turns out the man born Dhafir Harris experienced more than just lack of oxygen, he suffered “severe dehydration and renal failure,” per a report from USA Today Sports and MMA Junkie. Ask any mixed martial arts fan if they care after that fight and not one will feel sorry for Dada because they all feel cheated by the entire fight.

Again the difference: Discovering a story versus hyping only half of one.

Case in point was Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock. The fight that was two decades in the making — the “world’s most dangerous man” against the man who solidified the entire sport. And it didn’t matter one bit because most Bellator fans were only told about how they met, not what happened following that moment.

Had that happened, we would have known why this fight mattered to one of the guys (Shamrock) and was only a proving ground for the other (Gracie). Welp, he proved it all right… and again, no one cared.


PR pros understand that we won’t hear anything about Shamrock and Gracie again from Bellator because to Coker, the book is closed and the story doesn’t deserve a sequel.

The difference is if White was in charge of this, he would still be talking about both fights, demand better from the fighters and would already be planning the mudslinging for the sequel… eh, next fight.

[YouTube Sources: King Conor, Fight Para]