It has come and gone, the so-called “Fight of the Century” that was anything but. As mixed martial arts fans, it’s easy for us to deride the failed spectacle of Mayweather-Pacquiao, but that’s not the exercise here. The boxing vs. MMA argument is stale; a tired fight with little meaning and even less on the line. Yes, boxing is in decline. No, there likely won’t be another big fight, at least not as big as “MayPac” was supposed to be, for at least another decade. Yet the sweet science isn’t going anywhere, and comparisons between the two sports are as pointless as arguing over which is better, American football or Rugby. The answer is inevitably in the eye of the beholder, and each sport has its fans.

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty the mixed martial arts world, and in particular, the UFC, can learn from “MayPac”. There’s quite a bit, in fact. It was a lesson in why promotion is sometimes more important than product. It was a lesson in letting fighters be themselves, a lesson in putting fighters first, above the promotion. The UFC stopped doing that for a while, and did the opposite. They failed to see the value in name value, and tried to promote the company above all else. Yet fans don’t cheer for Dana White. They don’t want the president to be the face of the company — they want an athlete to be.

Boxing, for all its faults, gets that at least. They might do a pitiful job with undercards and all too often pin all their hopes on a single bout, but they do know how to promote. Ask any of the casual fans who dropped about $100 on “MayPac” what organization’s title the two were fighting for, and it’s unlikely they could tell you. Of course, boxing has always been an alphabet soup of regulatory bodies and commissions, but the point is still there: it didn’t matter whose title(s) Pacquiao and Mayweather held, only that they were champions. People paid to see those two names, period. And they paid in droves.

That’s not to say this is an argument for cross-promotion, mainly, it’s an argument for placing more value on the fighters themselves. The UFC has slowly improved in that regard, perhaps spurred to do so by the slow but steady progress of their competition. Still, rarely do you see two names promoted over the initials UFC — perhaps Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor this summer is one of the rare exceptions thus far.

To put it in perspective, when you brought up “MayPac”, it was Mayweather-Pacquiao, it was “MayPac”. When you bring up the UFC, at least outside the hardcore fans, it’s “the UFC” — it’s “who’s fighting in the UFC this weekend?” not “Johnson-Cormier.” That’s something to strive for. Make the names larger than the company itself.

There are other lessons to be learned as well, not the least of which is “don’t ever market anything as the Fight of the Century unless you’re 100% sure it can live up to the hype.” Of course, hindsight is always 20-20, but enough signs were there to know that MayPac would be a let down.

Don’t leave the fans shut out from buying tickets. Celebrity birdwatching is no fun when it’s to the detriment of passionate fans, and that’s a brutal mistake the promoters behind “MayPac” made. It was a slap in the face to boxing fans. In that, UFC President Dana White is correct: a fight of that magnitude should have been in a bigger venue. At least that’s a lesson the UFC understands.

Don’t overcharge. The jury is still out on this one, as the UFC has been known to slightly inflate rates for so-called “bigger” fights, but it’s a process that pretty much needs to stop. For the long-term health of the sport, if it’s to remain focused on PPV in North America, than be consistent with fans. It’s not that they’ll feel you’re overcharging for the best fights, it’s that they’ll start to question why they’re paying for “lesser” fights in the first place. Know your value, and be consistent with it.

Do stack your cards. Keep stacking them. The UFC has made a valiant effort to that end so far this year, though some have been hit by injury — but so far, so good.

And finally, don’t ever let the sport get to the point where the so-called Fight of the Century is only remembered with ridicule and for being the biggest letdown of its time. That sort of black eye is worse than any delivered inside the cage.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.