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Friday, January 30, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- Zuffa Breaks News of Affliction MMA's Impending Demise Using Psuedonym
by Ivan Trembow

It appears as though Zuffa/UFC took it upon themselves to break the news of the impending demise of Affliction's MMA promotion, while hiding behind a psuedonym on Bloody Elbow.

Anyone who has read Bloody Elbow’s comments section long enough knows that the poster called “mmalogic” works for Zuffa and is not even particularly good at hiding it.

One example: In the comments section of a post from a few months back, “mmalogic” wrote this: “Zuffa adjusted their sponsorship model from creating OUR own sponsors” (capitalization added by me).

When another user pointed out what “mmalogic” just said and asked if he’s Joe Silva or someone else like that, “mmalogic” responded with this non-denial and followed it with flattery towards his accuser: “I won’t say who I am but I will say who you are judging by your past comments and analysis … You either own your own business, have owned your own business or very high up in a business either in Marketing or Sales… Did I call it?”

When the original accuser responded by saying that he just graduated with a degree in marketing and finance, “mmalogic” responded with more flattery: “You got the head for it… try to hook up with a good consulting firm – you will do well.”

In this case, it’s easy to see how high-level executives at Zuffa would know so much about Affliction MMA’s pending demise, particularly if Affliction has contacted Zuffa to work out a peace deal.

So, what do they do? They make a post about it under their “mmalogic” psuedonym to give themselves more leverage in the negotiations for the aforementioned peace deal (Affliction has even less leverage in negotiations if everyone is already reading about how little leverage they have and how their MMA branch is about to go out of business anyway).

A lot of people think that the UFC doesn’t care about blogs, but they must realize what kind of influence a very popular blog like Bloody Elbow has, based on the fact that they (Zuffa) are willing to take the time and effort to try to spread information and influence opinions by making posts under psuedonyms like “mmalogic.”

-More on "mmalogic": Even putting aside how blatant it is in his comments, look at the previous FanPost blog entries by “mmalogic”:

Shinya Aoki is not a top five fighter (in January 2009); EliteXC ratings are below CBS’ expectations and now ProElite people are looking for work; HBO is unhappy with the Affliction/Golden Boy partnership; Randy Couture to Headline UFC 91 (before it was widely reported); and a post about why Zuffa has no reason to co-promote with anyone.

Like I said, not very subtle. I’m guessing Zuffa will try to be more subtle when posting under psuedonyms in the future.

-FightOpinion and Bloody Elbow Posts About This: Zach Arnold wrote about this on FightOpinion.com

"What makes this interesting is that by leaking claims that Affliction wants to wave the white flag in terms of no longer competing with Zuffa that it all but eliminates any sort of leverage Atencio might or might not have if he is in fact doing this.

It’s no secret that Zuffa employees read message boards, blogs, etc. What is interesting is whether or not more and more UFC employees will start using blogs to manipulate the message they want the public to hear. The organization already has friendly broadsheet media outlets that aren’t willing to push back against them, and then you add on the generally UFC-safe Yahoo Sports coverage team, and what you end up with is a pretty sophisticated strategy to influence both hardcore and casual MMA fans."

In response, Bloody Elbow editor Luke Thomas wrote an angry response on BloodyElbow.com.

Personally, I think Luke is misinterpreting the point of Zach’s post. I don’t think that Zach or anyone else (including me) is saying that Bloody Elbow’s “coverage is nothing more than a mouthpiece or distribution channel for Zuffa.” It’s not that Bloody Elbow is guilty of anything, it’s that this one specific poster “mmalogic” certainly appears to be a Zuffa employee from looking at the evidence.

As for Bloody Elbow not having any dialogue with the UFC, this is informal communication, but literally one post down from Luke’s, Michael Rome wrote this as an update to the original post by Zuffa employee mmalogic: “I have been digging at this story for the last 3 or 4 hours since I first heard it. I believe it to be true. A source at UFC informed that Lorenzo Fertitta was contacted today by Affliction looking for a ‘beneficial’ way out.” There’s nothing wrong with having communications with the UFC.

Also, it doesn’t take “some grand Zuffa scheme” for this to happen. “Astroturfing” is something that corporations have been caught doing in the past, it’s probably not that hard for them to do it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Zuffa had other screen names on other sites doing the same thing.

-Affliction Head Denies his MMA Promotion's Demise: Affliction head Tom Atencio has already denied that his MMA promotion is on the verge of going out of business, but of course he’s going to say that.

Realistically, even before any of this came out today, I think the vast majority of hardcore MMA fans have thought for weeks that Affliction’s MMA division would be kaput shortly after their second show (if not before their second show).

It’s likely that it’s over except for the negotiations of how, and under what financial terms, Affliction will stop promoting MMA shows and will re-enter the fray as one of the biggest sponsors of UFC fighters. Zuffa has a lot more leverage than Affliction already, and they attempted to tip the scales of leverage in their direction even further with that post made under one of their psuedonyms — “mmalogic” (and I only use the plural form “psuedonyms” because it would be naive to think that if they’re using one psuedonym that it’s the only one that they have on any web site).

Now, Atencio is trying to tip the scales of leverage back in his direction by denying that they’re getting out of the MMA promotion business.

In that respect, it’s no different than what Zuffa is doing. What is a big difference is the fact that Atencio is using his real name in those interviews, while Zuffa made their post under a psuedonym.

-What's Wrong with the UFC Leaking Information Under Psuedonyms: To anyone who may take the position that a person still has a right to post even if they’re a UFC employee, it’s not being a UFC employee that is objectionable; it’s the lack of disclosure. It’s the fact that there is information coming from the UFC, information whose release benefits the UFC, but without the public knowing that it came from the UFC and being able to judge its veracity (or the motives for its release) in that context. That is what is objectionable about "mmalogic." Now that "mmalogic" has been exposed, Zuffa will likely use other screen names instead (ones that haven’t been exposed).

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