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5.27.2007

Is White America Ready For Rampage?

Take this for what it's worth but this, on several levels, is the exact opposite of the result that the Zuffa's and Dana White wanted.

Quinton Jackson is not nearly as marketable a commodity as Chuck Liddell is. Quinton Jackson isn't going to be appearing on TV shows coast-to-coast the way that Liddell has. He won't be making guest appearances on HBO's "Entourage". He won't be on "Regis and Kelly" either.

Why not? Well maybe you hadn't noticed, but Rampage Jackson is black.

Now those who know me know that I'm not normally one to "play the race card". And frankly, as a black man born and bred in Canada, I haven't often wanted to or needed to. But I think it bears some brief acknowledgement that the UFC is not a pure athletic entity. This is not solely about the best facing the best.

This is about the almighty American dollar. What fight will sell and which fighters will sell it. And for the general public in America, the UFC has been providing something that boxing hasn't over the past several years: The Great White Hope.

America hasn't given a shit about heavyweight boxing since the freakshow that was Mike Tyson, came to an end...possibly as early as the Buster Douglas debacle, but defintiely with the Lennox Lewis loss.

Here's how the marketing works in the United States, and if you don't believe me, then you've either not lived in the States (like I have), not paid attention (like I have) or are just blind to fact...

Top tier - white athletes.
Second tier - a good freak show
Third tier - black or hispanic athletes depending on the sport and/or region
Fourth tier - whoever lost the debate in the third tier
Fifth tier - women atheletes

After that it's Asians, Native Americans and penguins who can sing and dance in animated form.

And I'm not just pinning something on the UFC here. I'm sure the UFC will do it's utmost to push Jackson. They have to. He's their lightheavyweight champ. And they want to make money off his title fights.

But I'll say this. The UFC is just as fixed as pro wrestling. It's all in the way you choose who will fight who. Sure there's a much larger element of "shoot" in something like the UFC but Bart Gunn wasn't supposed to win the WWF's Brawl For All either. That was supposed to go to Steve Williams. Accidents happen. Marketing covers for accidents.

Watch from here on in who Jackson's opponents are. I bet, and don't mistake this for anger or reverse racism, this is just observation... I bet that Jackson doesn't get a non-white opponent anytime soon. If he does, the man will be hispanic. Because if the UFC wants to grow its product and take hold in "mainstream America", they won't do it with their most popular title around the waist of a man who, based solely on skin color, the general public and more importantly, MADISON AVENUE will reject.

So ends the sermon...


29 comments: on "Is White America Ready For Rampage?"

F'N Frank Fronte said...

White America is ready for Black athletes that act like Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter.

Jackson is nothing of the sort, but is still amazingly entertaining and could capture an audience that UFC has not been able to attract.

Gordo, the wizard of id said...

I figure it will probably go like this...

They feed Jackson other black fighters they figure he can beat. (With maybe a Hispanic dude to spike a buy rate in that market)

Meanwhile, the marketing machine starts building the "great white hope" they can eventually put in there with him to win the belt back.

The story of the white dude that eventually rises to claim Jackson's title will get far more hype and airplay than his title reign will.

Hype him as a beast (He DID beat Chuck twice after all.) Feed him some jobbers he can beat the ever-lovin shit out of to further hype his 'animal aura' so that when the chosen great white hope finally steps into the octagon with him the anticipation (and buyrate) is huge.

If whitey loses it's not even that big a deal. Just bring up the next one and do it again.

The "white hope underdog" can be pushed to sell the supplements etc and make the celeb rounds while Jackson is kept under wraps except for insane workout promos and squash fights.

That ain't how it SHOULD go... but that's probably how it WILL go.

Just my guess

Anthony Kingdom James said...

Gordo... THANK YOU for getting what I was talking about. (Thanks to Fronte too... Hey, how was your mystery date Frank?)

See, this isn't a regional promotion, like Mid-South Wrestling back when Bill Watts was smart enough to make guys like Butch Reed and Junkyard Dog into his top babyface. Bill Watts knew the demographics of the marketplace. He tapped into that knowledge.

This is an international marketing machine we're talking about in the UFC and just like casting a soap commercial, it's handsome english-speaking white men first... all others wait in line.

Oh, and I should append that list I included in the article...

1) HANDSOME ENGLISH-SPEAKING WHITE ATHLETE
2) ANY GOOD FREAK SHOW (but usually only short-term. think Great Khali or Umaga in the WWE)
3) NOT SO HANDSOME OR NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING WHITE ATHLETES (think Klitschko brothers in boxing or Tim Sylvia in the UFC)
4) BLACK OR HISPANIC...

...and so forth.

darth still a black out Frost said...

Houston's K.O of Jardine
Din Thompson Tap the little white kid
Rampage K.O liddell
then Thiers Josh Koshcheck
Rashed Evens Anderson Sylvia
i agree with you fully but this may be the exact thing u.f.c. need for its detractor to understand that this is a true sport if not the truest of the sports. There’s not only the potential for marketing the ever loving great white hype. But then there Ali Frazier fights the cross promo the amazing in ring skill and the heart breaking back round stories about coming from despair the white amerce loves to see

Anonymous said...

Tremendous stuff.

I can't wait to see how all this ends up.

Nick Maniwa

The Notorious D.J.B said...

Well, while I can somewhat understand what you saying, I don't really agree. What Fronte said makes since too, but again I disagree.

Top tier atheletes aren't always white. If I asked you to name atheletes considered the tops of all time I guarantee you 90% would be black.

Tiger Woods is one of the most popular and highest paid of all time. Michael Jordan is the most highly respected basketball player of all time and may be the most marketable man on the planet, as a matter of fact I bet 5 people on this site have or have had a pair of Jordans, I'm one.

The fact that America may be ready for Tiger Woods acting atheletes isn't true. Tiger's attitude tends to irritate some people, because he whines when doesn't perform well, last golf season he refused to acknowledge the name of Camillio Vijegas(I know I misspelled the last name) because Camillio outplayed the Tiger.

In football, who do people talk about? Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy, Donovan McNabb, Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, T.O., Reggie Bush, Marvin Harrison, Duante Culpepper, Julius Peppers, Steve Smith, Jeremy Shockey and so on. If you look at NFL merch other than Peyton Manning the jerseys are predominantly of black players. To what Fronte said, guys like Johnson, Jones, and T.O are only shunned because they are either arrogant assholes or criminals.

Other than Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash who are the top tier NBA players of caucasianity? I like that word, I think I'll copyright it.

Again I understand what you're saying, and do believe it has merit, I do believe that with the athelitic world being dominated by black people this could take the UFC to a level in the mainstream never thought possible. Just a thought though.

Anthony Kingdom James said...

DJB,
I don't think you actually did get the point of what I said. I spoke solely about the MARKETABILITY of top athletes. This isn't about who fans of a given sport talk about. This is about who sports leagues and team owners and, more importantly, the entertainment media (Hollywood and Madison Avenue) use to sell products and tickets and entertain you and who they use to get you to watch their events.

Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan? Come on. Dont give me that shit. Woods and Jordan are/were head and shoulders ahead of the rest of their sport talentwise. They were in Gretzky territory. That's where the phrase "scary talented" comes from. What made them MARKETABLE was that beyond being the most spectacularly talented men in their sports, they are both well-spoken and polite with a gleaming straight-toothed smile. They don't "talk black" or "act black". They're the black men who doesn't scare little old ladies.

Rampage Jackson is neither Tiger Woods nor Michael Jordan.

How marketable would Tiger Woods be if he looked and dressed and talked and acted like Tupac Shakur? Say Tupac had been the scary talented golf pro. The PGA would be trying to bury him. It's not like the PGA is happy about John Daly's drunken antics.

I find your assertion that the "athletic world" is "dominated by black people" to be fear-based, insulting and without merit. Basketball and American football are NOT the "athletic world". If you asked me "to name the top athletes of all time" you "guarantee me that 90% would be black"?

Holy shit, dude. That statement isn't nearly as offensive as it just is dumb. Top athletes? In what sport or sports? Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden, Mario Lemieux and a whole host of other hockey players I can think of aren't black. I think there's ONE black hockey player in the Hall of Fame. I think the numbers of top white athletes would overwhelm the names of any other ethnicity in any number of sports. Hockey, tennis, horse racing, auto racing, golf, darts, curling, bowling, gymnastics, skiing, rowing, skating and on and on.

DJB, it IS possible for us all to discuss race with ourselves succumbing to racism... and I applaud your effort to do so... but I hope you will go back and re-read what's been said in this whole thread and rethink your opinion.

Anonymous said...

"Watch from here on in who Jackson's opponents are. I bet, and don't mistake this for anger or reverse racism, this is just observation... I bet that Jackson doesn't get a non-white opponent anytime soon. If he does, the man will be hispanic."

He won't be fighting any caucasian north americans because there are none in title contention had Chuck stayed champion he would be fighting exactly the same people Rampage is going to.

While you you make some good points, you evidently don't know enough about MMA to be writing these broad, sweeping pieces.

Anthony Kingdom James said...

To anonymous...

Go check out www.danhenderson.com

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Dan Henderson is caucasian. Henderson was shown at ringside before the fight Saturday night and then came into the ring afterwards carrying two title belts with him. This isn't by accident. This is Dan Henderson having already been annointed as the next major challenger.

Don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about and then blow your own arguement like that.

David said...

I think that it is just horrible that people have to make the color of someone's skin an issue. Why not stop looking at the outside appearance of a person and see who they are from the inside out?

Rampage said...

what he said and another thing dont fuckin name a bunch of white dominated sports because guess what most white people dont like fuckin curling, bowling, gymnastics and god damn horse racing jesus christ. Hell curling is prolly the lowest rated watched sport thanks i rather not play or do that

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that you didn't write off guys like Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, and Michael Jordan in your article, but I see you got around to it later.

I agree that America's attitude toward Black men who adopt a "street" image deserves criticism, but I strongly disagree with Black men who write off other Black men simply because they _don't_ choose to look like Tupac.

If there's a challenge to marketing non-White UFC fighters, the UFC ain't buyin' it (pun intended). Your suggestion that the UFC is fixed because of its match-making belies your assertion that Rampage's victory was "the exact opposite of what they wanted." In fact, Dana White pushed Rampage into a title fight, and eagerly renegotiated his contract to get him there. And what did White do when Anderson Silva (a Black man) obliterated Chris Leben? He gave him a title shot, of course, against Rich Franklin, another of their White "poster boys", whom Silva promptly crushed. (Franklin's previous title defense was against David Loiseau, a Black Canadian, incidentally.) There's plenty of evidence that the decision-makers in the UFC are relatively color-blind, if you choose to see it.

btw, Dan Henderson looks Native American to me, not White. Also clearly not White are Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Babalu Sobral, and Ryoto Machida. Michael Bisping would be the example of the up-and-coming White fighter some of you are looking for, and they've used him to market events in England, because he's English (he's nowhere near the upcoming event in Belfast, funnily enough.)

The Notorious D.J.B said...

While I said I see your point, and believe it has merit, my point was to simply say that black people arent unmarketable.

When you talk about white atheletes in hockey you are absolutely right. Although hockey isn't exactly the most popular sport. I understand that hockey has a huge following, but so does NASCAR, and how many people outside of the south consider NASCAR to be a top sport?

The fact that I called the atheletic world dominated by black people isn't fear based, and in my opinion isn't without merit, look at statistics as far as percentages. While you say the NFL and NBA aren't the atheletic world, they are considered to be two of the top sports. And while I could give two shits about soccer, the only name I know other than Beckham is Theirry Henry. But if you think what you think, thats fine too. Though, if black atheletes aren't marketable why does their merchandise fly off the shelves, and they have cult followings?

I'm not a UFC fan myself, so I may be overstepping my bounds, but this article seems to be a more generalized topic, so I feel comfortable talking about it. But your topic about scaring little old ladies is fine, but doesn't apply in all cases. T.O. is a jackass, but his books didn't exactly flop. The reason I say this though, is because UFC isn't your typical sport. I don't know if you get Sports Illustrated, but if you do or have access to it look at this weeks cover. If has Roger Huerta kicking somebody in the face. It says, "Too Brutal or The Future? ULTIMATE FIGHTING America's fastest growing and most controversial sport." With that being said how is it you are comparing the atheletes of this sports to that of others in marketability?

You mentioned boxings decline, and wrestling isn't as respected as it could be, but UFC, apparently that's top notch. Here's a sport where guys, work or not, go out and try to knock the other out to win money. How is that typical, and how exactly would a well spoken Tiger Woods type be marketed in a sport like this?

I can see Tiger getting up on the podium when he has a big fight signed in his NIKE TW hat, and his TAPOUT shirt. "I would like to thank you all for coming. This is a great arena, and great city and the opportunity to play here is an honor. Now in a month when Mr. Liddell and I engage in combat of the highest esteem of sportsmanship and celebrate together no matter the winner or loser," I dont think I need to go farther, he'd get his ass laughed off stage and out of the sport. If you want a top marketable athelete in UFC shouldn't it be somebody like Rampage? A guy who people know will knock your ass out if you are in the ring with him?

Anonymous said...

Just so you all know Dan Henderson IS Native American and the next in line after him is most likely Shogun, a Brazilian. No great white hopes in line just, the most talented fighters.

Anonymous said...

"I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Dan Henderson is caucasian."

You certainly are wrong Dan Henderson is mixed race and has distinct Native American heritage (which you ranked just above singing penguins I believe).

Please correct me if my logic has failed but if you believed Hendo to be caucasian then why the "Jackson doesn't get a non-white opponent" stuff.

Anthony Kingdom James said...

I'm going to answer some of these out of order...

An anonymous writer said Dan Henderson is Native American. Dan Henderson is 1/16 Native American. Hell, I'm 1/4 Irish and 1/4 Ukrainian. That doesn't make me not-black. I'm half something else and I'm still black. Dan Henderson is a lucky guy to have more than one ethnicity in his background, but it doesn't make him not-white.

To David... My entire arguement has been about marketing. Marketing is completely about appearances. That's why advertising is sucks. IN ADVERTISING, IT'S RARELY WHAT'S INSIDE THAT COUNTS. I was hoping people would come to that conclusion in what I wrote. People are getting defensive thinking I'm calling the UFC racist or something. I'm not. I'm calling advertising as an industry racist and I think it's unfortunate that the UFC have to play that game.

I never "wrote off" Jordan or Woods. I AM TALKING ABOUT THE REALITIES OF MARKETING IN AMERICA TODAY. I never said that the UFC is unhappy that Rampage Jackson won because of the level of competition he will bring. How could they be unhappy with his skill and with how great his title matches will be? THIS ISN'T ABOUT THE GAME. THIS IS ABOUT THE GAME BEHIND THE GAME.

Don't shit on curling. I fucking LOVE curling. I'd rather watch good curling than most any NFL game. And to this date, I can't remember ever seeing a Black curler. That doesn't matter to me. I'm attracted to the sport.

Another anonymous writer said that Dana White pushed Rampage Jackson into this title match. Of course he did. Haven't you seen the advertising? "Chuck Liddell is on the road to redemption". Now I think it is purely coincidence that Jackson is the third and final loss Liddell was trying to avenge, more to do with Rampage's availability than anything else, so please don't think I'm trying to imply anything there... But ALL the advertising was about Chuck Liddell. The opponent was inconsequential. The important part was he had once beaten Chuck and Chuck wanted to even the score. It could have been two midgets in a Bruce Lee costume. IT WAS ABOUT BUILDING CHUCK LIDDELL.

As for Rich Anderson, he was all over my tv with Xyience commercials for months. I don't see any ANderson Silva commercials yet. That's the difference between marketing and competition.

And my saying "the fix is in"... That doesn't mean that wins and losses are predetermined. That means that you can pick and choose opponents to try and get a desired result for your fighter. You know, the Washington Generals don't always lose to the Harlem Globetrotters... but no one on earth would ever bet that they're going to win.

DJB, I never said black people aren't marketable. That's crazy. But when you spoke you spkoe about football and baseball like they were the be all and end all of sport. Hockey is much more important to me. Readers around the world will care much more about soccer or sumo or boxing or something else. My point, and I'll say this once again, WAS ABOUT MARKETING. NOT COMPETITION. MARKETING. Selling the UFC like any other product. Soap. Pizza. Cars. Aluminum siding. UFC. Products that their manufacturers are trying to sell to an unsuspecting public.

Also, I don't think "jersey sales" are any indicator of what I'm talking about. Jersey sales are mostly about the players YOU decide you like. If I want a Washington Capitals jersey with "MARSON - 22" on the back, it's because I decided I like Mike Marson (in the 1970's he became the second Black player ever in the NHL, almost 3 decades after Willie O'Ree became the first. I interviewed Marson back in 1995 and he was a great guy). If Mike Marson appears on the Washington Capitals annual player guide or in commercials for the NHL, then that who the team and league have decided to make their public face. See the difference I'm trying to make?

Terrell Owens would be a douche bag no matter what color his skin was. Douchebaggery knows no racial boundaries.

And again, I thank everyone who has commented, even the anonymous people, for keeping this conversation civil and intelligent.

Brian Plunkett said...

I can see your point, but I think that with UFC's cult following, marketing doesn't mean shit for them anymore. They have a chokehold on the MMA business; they could never market again and still have an insanely high buyrate. Besides, how many people do you think decided to follow UFC based on watching Regis and Kelly? Moreover, how many UFC fans do you think even watch Regis and Kelly?

I think it's funny that throughout this entire debate, nobody once mentioned Chuck Liddell(a white man)'s faux pas of falling asleep on National TV.

Anonymous said...

Get over it.

Buryme said...

what brian said ufc/mma fans dont give a fuck what race people are or how the marketbility is you know what the marketbility is of ufc and mma who can knock the fuck out of someone

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of the dumbest blogs I have ever read. An article that focuses entirely on race, overlooking the fact that Rampage is a dynamic and hilarious personality that the late night talk shows will go ga-ga for.

Stop with the racial paranoia, my CANADIAN friend...you have ALOT to learn about American entertainment.

Gogoplata said...

You don't see any Anderson Silva commercials because he speaks little to no English.

The Notorious D.J.B said...

Dear my Anonymous friend,

While I at first believed this article to be racial paranoia I read it and thought about and stated my opinions and the first time AKJ responded, I, you and all should have realized it wasnt at all what you are calling it. It was merely a statement of opinion. While I don't agree I do see his opinion as having merit. I will agree that american sports do seem to differ greatly from those of the rest of the world, your stance is what you are accusing his of being. Not only that you appear to be nationally biased as well.

AKJ: I found myself strangely drawn to curling during the olympics, but it isn't something I'd watch often. It's different so it deserves a shot. I kind of thought that this was about who we decided to like, because if we decided to like someone the media and the marketing machine would eat them up, but maybe we had a different understanding of it all. I will say when it comes to aluminum siding you want the better looking but the toughest and most durable.

Yeah ol Chucky falling asleep was the shit, I remember the discussion on here about that. PRICELESS.

Anthony Kingdom James said...

Brian,
McDonald's could keep making money without advertising for the next decade. Why do they do it? To keep their product in the forefront of public opinion. You're wrong if you think UFC isn't trying to get every last person they can into their product... including Regis' viewers. They want to legitimize the sport with the general public. Make it mainstream. Hardcore fans are great but a constantly churning supply of casual fans who buy a ppv once a year equals more profit. The other reason you put your athletes on shows like Regis and Kelly or on Letterman and Leno is to increase the public perception that your product is the top product in the industry. "IFL fighters arent on Regis but we are so we're obviously better" is the marketing logic. It also makes existing UFC fans tell their friends "you know that guy i keep talking about... he's on tv tomorrow. watch him and then try and tell me he's not cool."

Create conversation. Make everyone on earth talk about your product. MARKETING.

Buryme... I'm sorry but if you won't take the time to use proper grammar and sentence structure, anything you might be trying to say gets lost in the haze.

Yet another anonymous writer called me "racially paranoid". That's hilarious.

Gogoplata... Yao Ming's english isn't exactly going to get him into the Harvard Debating Society but he has plenty of endorsement deals.

and finally, AGAIN, I never said anywhere in this discussion that Dana White or the Fertittas are racist. I said that Rampage Jackson is a harder sell for the general public than Chuck Liddell was. That's all. I didn't call Zuffa Inc racist. And YOU, the reader, don't have to be racist to agree with my point.

Big Daddy Donnie is the guy who came up with the title for this article. Frankly, if I had named it myself it would be titled IS MADISON AVENUE READY FOR THE RAMPAGE? This article was never meant to be about white vs black. It was meant to be about sellers vs consumers and the corporate mentality regarding race.

Brian Plunkett said...

I understand what you mean, Kingdom, but my point was that even if White America doesn't accept Rampage, enough people will that it'll keep UFC's insane buyrate up. Besides, the world will only see a Quniton Jackson fight once every couple of months. Even if he's not as charismatic as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Dany Heatly, market him anyway. If he doesn't get as big of buyrate increases as the white fighters, who cares? Any increase is good. Which is the point of marketing in the first place-raise awareness of your product.

Rampage said...

ok ill use proper grammer. knockouts/good fights=are marketing of the ufc. not some colour bullshit jesus christ. other sports they might have some race bullshit but mma is a whole different sport like i said people want to see their favourite fighter knock the fuck out of someone and put on a good fight no matter what race....did you understand that webster

BRoqq said...

Let me blow this theory all to hell with two words "The Rock". Dude, it's all about charisma, and Rampage's charisma beats the hell out of Chuck "I just fell asleep while you were interviewing me" Lidell's.

I don't care what colour you are, a good interview is a good interview is a good interview, and daymn if Rampage don't give good interview!

Anthony Kingdom James said...

"Rampage"... AGAIN, you are seeing this through the eyes of a hardcore mma fan. Not through the eyes of the chicken-livered public relations reps in Manhattan and Los Angeles who are looking for athletes for talk shows or soda commercials. Why do you refuse to understand that that is all we're talking about here?

Rampage said...

what kind of man watches a talk show. OMG CHUCK LIDELL IS ON OPRAH TOMORROW LETS GO WATCH IT.i understand what your talking about but i think its ridiculous because if relation reps are thinking that. when people only wanna see a GOOD FIGHT then they drink the same shit as vinnie mack.

ps soda is pop right lol im canadian your americans with your wacky terms

BRoqq said...

We're not talking Rampage on Oprah. We're talking about Rampage on The Best Damn Sports Show Period, the two are quite different, and I can't imagine someone fitting on that show any better than Rampage.

Sorry, but White America ain't ready for MMA anyhow. It's sweaty dudes dry-humping each other to the majority of the mainstream populace (well at least those who don't think it's "Human Cockfighting" like the boxing people tell them it is).