Make no mistake about it, the UFC do a hell of a lot right when it comes to fight promotion.
With things like the press conferences, media conference calls, the 'Embedded' series, and even UFC produced shows like 'Inside The Octagon' where fighter's tendencies and techniques are broken down, there is so much great stuff for an MMA fan to consume ahead of a fight they are really excited about.
And then there are open workouts..
Mid-week before a big fight is when you will see an open workout, and here is how every one seemingly goes down:
-Fighter emerges in sweatpants with a coach and waves to the crowd.
-Fighter conducts a training session at 10% intensity, making sure not to do anything that they will actually do in the fight so they opponent doesn't see it.
-Loud music blasts for the entirety.
-Fighter thanks the fans for showing up and watching them do nothing.
What really is the point?
A look at McGregor's open workout in Madison Square Garden will show you just how little there is to take away from it.
Yes, it gives the fans a chance to get close to their heroes, but could that not be achieved in something like a fan Q & A, or even an autograph singing? Both of these things occasionally happen at open workouts anyway, so why go through the motions first?
The idea is to not disrupt the fighter's preparation... But it does anyway. There is certainly no benefit for the fighter, it's just another media obligation.
In fact, those heading to UFC Belfast have been denied the opportunity to see Gunnar Nelson fight in the main event directly because of an injury he sustained while wrestling in an open workout! So there goes the argument that they don't harm anybody.
Especially when you consider that through UFC Embedded, and for McGregor in particular thanks to TheMacLife.com, we already have access to actual training on hand. If I wanted to watch Conor McGregor in training, there are numerous interesting and, more importantly, real sparring sessions available on his YouTube.
Granted, for a popular fighter it can be nice to have your ego stroked, but then on the flipside we get moments like this...
It's tradition. These open workouts have been running for a long time.
It's not real training, it's eating into the fighter's time, the fans can get better access elsewhere, there is a risk of injury, and there's no clear benefit to showing up.
The best thing we've seen from an open workout is when Rose Namajunas brought our her dog.
There would actually be more interest in a 'dogs of the UFC' parade. Now there's a marketing avenue.
We're not calling for them to be scrapped or anything, it's just... What's the point? When you try to think of something equally pointless from another sport, it's difficult to think of an example.
Maybe football (both actual and American) interviews with managers/coaches during the game their team is contesting where they say absolutely nothing because you are distracting them from the game?
Either way, it seems strange that it's still a thing since the hyper-digitalisation of MMA.