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Random Rant: Why I contacted Jerry Millen for comment

My reaction piece to Chuck Liddell losing with Jerry Millen commenting has caused a bit of a firestorm and I have taken a lot of heat for it, which was what I expected.

The question many are asking is, why would you ask Jerry for comment?

The answer: accountability.

First off, let me say I’m not real happy with how this industry covers Dana White. Some journalists live in fear of him and won’t say anything critical because they are afraid the UFC might cut them off. And then you have the complete opposite end of the spectrum where people allow personal issues to interfere with their objectivity and they use every opportunity they can to bash the guy.

I’ve only spoken to Dana White a few times (which is funny, because some people have accused me of being in his “hip pocket”) and my limited professional dealings with him have been nothing but positive. When I’ve interviewed him, he’s been great. He’s never dodged a question and has treated me with respect. When I ask him questions on conference calls, he always shows me and most other journalists in this industry respect. For the most part, he treats reporters in this industry a lot better than most heads of major sports organizations do.

I also think he’s done a lot of great stuff for this sport and has made a lot of great decisions. But he isn’t perfect and has made mistakes at times. His handling of the long-awaited Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell match that this industry has been teasing us with for five years is one example.

Somebody needs to cover Dana White down the middle. When the UFC does something right (which is most of the time) I give them credit. And when they don’t (which is rare), I point it out. For the first time ever, the UFC had Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva under contract to the same company. There was nothing in the way of giving the fans what they wanted.

Well, except for Keith Jardine.

Am I aware that Chuck wanted to fight in September? Sure. But I’m sure Andrei Arlovski would like to have a match scheduled to so he can get paid. Just because a guy in the UFC wants to get booked for a match doesn’t mean he should automatically gets a bout agreement over his FAX or e-mail.

I’m also aware that Jardine vs. Liddell was signed after Wanderlei officially signed and that UFC 76 needed a main event. When I said Jardine vs. Liddell should have been canceled I got calls from a few people in the industry who said “Sam, you really sound like you know nothing about the business when you suggest a main event should be canceled weeks out.”

Here’s what I do know: canceling Jardine vs. Liddell would have hurt business in the short-term, but it would have helped business in the long-term. Aside from Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra, what’s the other money matchup for the big year end card in December?

When Cro Cop knocked out Wanderlei during the PRIDE open weight Grand Prix last September, I remember Dana going on Scott Ferrall’s Sirius Satellite Radio show and saying something to the effect, “The axe murderer got murdered, they just blew the biggest fight in MMA history.”

Well, if Dana was right when he said it doesn’t he have to be wrong now? But very few people have pointed that out. Is it because they are afraid to be critical of him? I was on his hometown radio station in Vegas and pointed out that he was hypocritical and wrote the same on this site. But I felt my comments alone weren’t enough. He was critical of PRIDE for the same mistake last year and I felt someone who had been with PRIDE deserved a chance to respond. Sorry, but I don’t have access to Sakikabara, and even if I did, do you think he’d speak out?

People can say what they want about Jerry Millen, but he’s one of the few guys in this industry who isn’t afraid to speak his mind about Dana White and the UFC.

If you want a pro-UFC website or an anti-UFC website, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you want a site that covers the UFC objectively, thanks for stopping by.

14 COMMENTS
  • Zach Arnold says:

    You’re beating your chest here about looking at UFC objectively while making general remarks about other sites that are pro-UFC or anti-UFC.

    Start naming names.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Zach, what does boasting about making claims of covering the UFC objectively have to do with not naming names?

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  • Zach Arnold says:

    You’re framing your site (as per your vision) as objective and in an earlier post, you named sites like Bloody Elbow and Sprawl ‘n Brawl. So, if you’re going to name names of sites that you consider likeminded, then name names when you are framing an argument about pro-UFC or anti-UFC sites.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Zach, I’ll repeat my question: what does my boasting of making claims of covering the UFC objectively have to do with not naming names?

    The point of my rant wasn’t to name names, it was to defend this site’s position for asking Jerry Millen for comment in regard to how the UFC handled Silva vs. Liddell when it’s been critical of how PRIDE handled the situation.

    People posted public comment and a lot of people e-mailed me asking the question. I felt they deserved an explanation. The rant was an explanation and I don’t see why you are insistent I post my naughty and nice MMA blog/website list?

    I’m here to cover MMA, not cover MMA journalism. I briefly delved into how some sites cover Dana White because I feel like I was put on the defensive. There’s nothing more to it than that.

    Furthermore, I think anyone who is a regular reader of MMA sites can pretty much gather which sites or journalists I was alluding to. Do I really need to spell it out?

    I’ll make a deal with you: e-mail me and tell me off the record why you really want me to name names and I’ll name names off the record?

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  • douggie says:

    Whilst I agree that a balanced, objective view/analysis of mma and its organisations is paramont to maintaining the high standards of the sport and undercutting organisational propaganda, consulting a figure such as Jerry Millen- a man who has never been particulary proffesional in his dealings and treatment of co-workers- readdresses the balance of a topic.

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  • douggie says:

    SORRY, meant to put ‘hardly’ readresses the balance. The omission of this wordconstrues that I am i favour of Jerry Millen (which I am not).

    Thanks.

    p.s. great website

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  • Gygax says:

    Sam, the bigger problem most have with the Millen interview is this. What makes him qualified to comment on any of this? He was a producer of the Pride TV brand (this clearly does not make him an expert in MMA, just TV) and when he recieved a Vice President title, he was clearly unqualified and had very little to do with the success of Pride. If anything, any input he had helped further the demise of the brand. The guy took all the credit for apparently convincing management to sign Diaz and match Hendo up with Wanderlei. Yet subsequent interviews with those fighters have shown he had little to do with anything. He was merely a figurehead with no background in MMA and very little input into the actual dealings of Pride. Swearing up and down that he had been on the phone with Japan and that no deal was coming just a few days before the infamous Roppongi Hills Arena press conference just showed how out of touch he was with the actual dealings of the Pride brand.

    By making this a big deal and saying its an exclusive with this guy, your legitimizing his “expert” status, something I don’t believe he deserves. Ask Bas, Mauro, or Stephen what Millen is an expert at. To me, it has nothing to do with whether or not you are showing all sides of the pro and anti-UFC debate. Its more about legitimizing the opinion of someone who is simply not qualified to have his opinion emblazoned like that. His opinion is no more important than the average MMA blogger IMO. If you were to interview Zach Arnold, would you put up a big thing saying its an exclusive? Too many guys from within the MMA community have exposed this guy for being nothing more than a job seeking leech.

    Thus the outcry.

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  • Zach Arnold says:

    If you were to interview Zach Arnold, would you put up a big thing saying its an exclusive?

    If someone was to show proper respect, why yes, yes they would. :)

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  • The only problem I have with it is including Millen’s pot shots at White. I am interested in what Millen thinks of the UFC matchmaking, business model, why Pride failed, etc, but I don’t give a fuck about his personal feelings for Dana White or anyone else for that matter.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Gygax, if Zach gave me a breaking news story that he wasn’t going to report on his own site or give anyone else, I would put an exclusive up there in the title.

    Did Jerry break news? No. But considering he was once Dana’s arch-rival and hasn’t spoken much lately, I felt it was worthy of an exclusive because I knew his comments would be over interest to people. Based on our traffic yesterday, I feel validated that his comments were of interest to many people, making it news worthy.

    Neal, in hindsight, I probably could have left the potshot out.

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  • Gygax says:

    Fair enough Sam. I feel your traffic was due to the overall quality content of your site, not the presence of a Millen interview in particular. 5oz is always a daily stop on my web travels. I just feel giving this non-talent any more exposure is just not necessary. Just because a guy talks a big game (see Manny Reyes Jr.) does not mean we should continue giving him press. Let him get a legitimate job back in MMA before we hear from him again. I’d rather hear the opinions of guys like Bas, Mauro, or Stephen, guys Millen directly screwed with his lack of competency.

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  • Evan says:

    Call me crazy but I have always been curious exactly what happened to him. I didn’t take a single thing seriously he ever said but I wanted to know anyway.

    He is a microcosm of bad PRIDE business decisions. Like it or not he is a part of the storied history. A bad part but a significant part. Every time you heard his name it sparked thought and emotion, obviously it still does now. I always assumed he was under some gag order to keep his mouth shut as part of some sort of finishing touch to his contract with PRIDE when Zuffa took over. I was wrong and I am glad to know that. Think about how much was written and discussed about him during the end of PRIDE. I am glad a follow up was done and now I never have to think about him again.

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  • GB says:

    Jerry Millen will never accomplish what Dana White has in MMA and yet I thought the interview and the decision to contact him were spot on. I believe that for my money 5 oz. of Pain is the best website covering MMA these days. If Zach Arnold, whose articles I also enjoy, wants some names, how about these:

    Pro-UFC: Kevin Iole
    Anti-UFC (and especially anti-Dana White): FightOpinion (a great site as well but they could do away with the extreme bias against Zuffa) and Zach Arnold

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  • hbdale309 says:

    Thanks for the update on Jerry Millen, Sam. I was really curious as to what the man was up to these days. He was everywhere up until the UFC bought Pride, and then he vanished.

    I believe the piece warranted an “Exclusive” title. Thanks again.

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