No one can argue the immense rise to prominence that UFC has developed over the past decade. It has become so successful that in many people's world it totally eclipses all other fighting sports. This has come with trial and error of course as the rules, the makeup of the game, and the venues have all evolved over time. This, however, is not to suggest that everything they have ever tried to do was a good idea.
Here are a few of the really odd things that UFC tried and failed at over the years.
WWE type ring entrances
In an attempt to try to capitalize on some of WWE's obvious success (and earnings) UFC briefly included absurd entrances to the ring for a number of fighters. They were all pretty bad and came complete with pyrotechnics. None of them will compare to Chuck Liddell's extremely cringe "Iceman" intro that was complete with a Vanilla Ice remix. It has to be seen to be believed.
Chuck lost that match and it wasn't long after that the expensive, unpopular, and stupid ring entrances were scrapped. Thank goodness.
Allowing fighters to choose their own "look"
There was a time when fighter's outfits and look was left up to them as to how they wanted to display sponsors and what the rest of their bodies looked like. This wasn't restricted to just a whole mess of tattoos which is just fine even though one of them is particularly embarrassing since he has a full tattoo of another fighter's wife on his arm.
However, this all came to an end when Dana White was extremely irritated by Dennis Hallman at UFC 133 and he came to the ring wearing an itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini bottom with a sponsor across his crotch. His opponent, Brian Ebersole was only marginally better with a really stupid manner of manscaping. It wasn't long after this difficult to watch bout, where the crowd and White were elated the Ebersole finished so quickly, that no one was allowed to have custom made outfits. Also, the ability to advertise sponsors in the ring on apparel abruptly ended as well. So for all of those fighters that were making some extra cash with sponsorships that suddenly had that go away, you have Dennis Hallman's idiocy to thank for that.
Dana White is one of the best fighters in EA game
That's Dana White vs. Dana White being separated by Dana White at a very heated weigh in presser before the big match.
Dana White obviously knows a lot about fighting. He once trained for a boxing match that never happened for many months and he was in fantastic shape. He's 50 years old now and actually has a very impressive physique despite his age. However, I don't think anyone believes that he is one of the best fighters in the world which is exactly what they made him in an Electronic Arts video game.
In the game he is a light-heavyweight and he has better striking stats than the person who was at the time of game's release the actual champion of that division, Daniel Cormier. His grappling stats are better than one of the best jiu jitsu fighters of all time, Anderson Silva, and his stamina is greater than octagon legend Lyoto Machida. It's crazy, but I think they were just having a laugh anyway so whatever.
They made Carmen Electra their spokesperson
In 2001 Carmen Electra was a really big deal in 2001 and she was meant to be someone that would bring the lucrative 18-35 year old male audience to the table because this is seen as the creme de la creme in advertising dollars. Electra did her homework and no one can deny that - she did not appear foolish in her pressers and she handled interviews very well.
However, it was quite evident that she knew very little about the sport or just fighting sports in general. All of her interviews were clearly scripted and she was never doing what Joe Rogan does today where he gives a live play-by-play live, which is something Carmen never did.
Her partnership with the organization lasted only a few months as it completely bombed with the fans, which at the time was still very small.
Signing CM Punk
Brock Lesnar did it so that must mean that any WWE wrestler would be able to pull it off too, right?
Let's not forget that Brock earned his spot in UFC by fighting in K-1 where he lost his first fight. The later would fight in lower cards with UFC where he showed genuine improvement and was GRADUALLY taken to top cards where he became a massive draw, especially after capturing the best which was at that point in time a very limited heavyweight division. As the division grew due to the obvious big money involved with fighting Brock, it became evident pretty quickly that Brock wasn't really the best in the world. He would later return to WWE despite being one of the highest paid UFC fighters of all time.
CM Punk on the other hand, was immediately booked as a headliner despite the fact that he had no MMA experience whatsoever. The fans did turn up hoping for some magic only to see Punk easily dispatched by a relative unknown named Mickey Gall. Punk knew his performance was shit and actually apologized to the fans after he was taken out in just over 2 minutes after getting absolutely bashed and looking completely out of his element.
Gall took him to the mat almost immediately and Punk never made it back to his feet. It as a huge embarassment but White still OK'd a second fight 4 years later where Punk lost again but at least made it to the end of the fight. There is speculation that this was rigged. After the fight Dana White said that Punk will "probably not fight for the UFC again."
At the end of the day I kind of appreciate the fact that UFC keeps trying to evolve and keep things interesting in an ever-changing market. They can't all be winners. But all you have to do is look at the fact that this sport absolutely exploded when Dana White and Zuffa entertainment to the point where it was sold for $4 billion (with a B) in 2016.