Elon Musk vs. Mark Zuckerberg is not a gimmick as long as Dana White does it

Whatever a bout between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg might look like, Dana White is sure it won't be a "gimmick."

By: Zane Simon | 3 months ago

At this point everyone knows what a gimmick fight looks like. It’s a big, showy publicity move that has less to do with integrity and quality than it does attracting attention and creating buzz. Unsurprisingly, in a world like combat sports, where buzz and attention grabbing are the oil that makes all the biggest fights run, there are gimmicks aplenty.

When Dream did their Super Hluk [sic] Grand Prix in 2009, featuring Bob Sapp, Minowman, Hong Man Choi, and Jose Canseco among others, that was a gimmick. When KSW put Popek Monster in a heavyweight fight against promotional star and former World’s Strongest Man Mariusz Pudzianowski, that was a gimmick. And when Bellator brought Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 together alongside Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie back in 2016, that was a gimmick.

Dana White doesn’t do gimmicks

But, you know who doesn’t do gimmicks? Dana White and the UFC. When the promotion brought 41-year-old boxing legend James Toney into the Octagon against 47-year-old former multiple time champion Randy Couture. That was not a gimmick. That was simply a one-off opportunity to bring casual viewership to the product.

When the UFC signed completely untested and under-trained WWE star CM Punk to a contract and dropped him on PPV against a totally unknown Mickey Gall? Not a gimmick. That was a creative and savvy investment strategy in crossover branding.

So, when Dana White says that he’s going to bring Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg to the UFC for a full contact cage fight, fans have to know that it’s no kind of gimmick. After all, if it were a gimmick, White wouldn’t be doing it.

“This isn’t a gimmick fight,” White wrote in response to fan backlash on his Instagram account. “Gimmick is MMA guys going to Boxing and getting beat. We have seen it already and know how it ends. This is a fight between 2 of the most powerful/richest guys in the world. Who will win? Who has seen this before? NOBODY. It’s also a crossover fight that literally EVERY EVERYONE will watch.”

Why did Dana White sign James Toney?

So if White’s idea of a gimmick is something everyone’s seen and already knows the answer to, then what was the point of putting Toney in the cage against Couture? Even by 2010 everybody knew what it looked like when a boxer who doesn’t do any grappling at all tries MMA. In retrospect, even White doesn’t seem to know what the idea was there.

“To be honest, I don’t know why I did it,” White said of the Toney bout. “There’s been this whole boxing versus mixed martial arts thing forever.”

Before the fight, however, the Slap Fight CEO was a lot more interested in Toney’s abilities, in part because of the man’s deep resume of fighting credentials. To his mind, what made it different than Strikeforce signing Herschel Walker or Dream signing Jose Canseco, was that Toney wasn’t just an athlete, but a combat sports athlete.

“I like James Toney. He’s one of the greatest boxers ever,” White explained back in 2010. “I have tremendous respect for him. He said he wanted to fight in the UFC and I was interested. Now he’s here and I have to figure out what to do with him. What we won’t do is make a freak show out of it. I’d be the first to scream if someone else did that, so I’m not going to do it.”

“Hey, I don’t want this to be seen as a joke, and it’s not like Herschel Walker or Canseco or any of those guys. James Toney is a fighter. The worst thing anyone can ever say to me is that they were watching one of my fights and they changed the channel. That’s why I’ll never put [expletive] fights on.”

Give it to White, if he actually can get these two billionaires to step into the cage together, I doubt anybody’s gonna change the channel. But it will absolutely be guaranteed to be the most “[expletive]” fight in UFC history.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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