Listen now (55 mins) | We started out heading one way and landed somewhere else, but everything I say today comes from the heart, and I hope you can appreciate that
I'm not familiar with the Twitter thread regarding the Tsarukyan-Gamrot announcement, but if I was told that there were a bunch of comments poo-poo'ing it as headliner (without knowing the specifics of what was said), my reaction would be "Oh, they must be casuals." It's hardly surprising, and I'm used to it. They've always been there, and will continue to be there. It's a shame that they don't know or understand how excellent of a high-level match-up that it is, and what a barnburner it should be, or that they're stars elsewhere, but I'm jaded to those sort of opinions by now.
Ari Emmanuel did an interview with BloombergTV last summer and he mentioned that the North American market makes up 10% of the UFC viewer base or interactions, but that it is responsible for 90% of the generated revenue. So in that regard, it sort of does matter more who registers as big in NAmerica. So many UFC fans I communicate with are very preoccupied with the business-side and dollars-and-cents of the sport. I mean with a laser-like focus. More so than any other sport I've followed. Who is a draw (i.e. who can sell PPVs) and can nab ratings on ESPN, and take the sport to the next level of popularity, and raise its profile, and entice future fighters from an expanding pool of potential athletes. These people are the flipside of the casual, but there can be some crossover in their attitudes, at least at a surface level. They might not scoff at Tsarukyan-Gamrot headlining a Fight Night, but they'll be critical of Leon Edwards finally getting his title shot (boring, doesn't sell, nobody cares, he doesn't have any fans etc.) or something similar in nature.
I find these attitudes irritating, but I genuinely believe in many instances it comes from both a place of concern for the sport - concern for it's growth, stability, and even fighter pay - and a place of insecurity. Insecurity about the sport's place in the greater sporting landscape. How it stacks up to boxing etc. And again, fighter pay. I'm convinced that a fair amount of dialogue among fans about things like fighter pay aren't even driven by concern that fighters being properly compensated, but rather that it denigrates or delegitimizes this thing as a hobby for them. It can be about their ego as a fan as much as anything else.
So to bring it back to the original point, these dismissive attitudes about fighters and their perceived lack of popularity and importance - it'll always be rude and frankly embarrassing. But I'm not sure it can always attributed to just mere provincialism. I think there's more to the dynamic. That's just my observation as a fan talking with other fans over time. As far as media goes I don't have much to say, but appreciated hearing your passionate opinion on the subject. Keep up the good work!