Bolloxology. If ever there was a word to describe the past couple of weeks in the world of MMA, that has to be it. A certain section of Conor McGregor's fanbase may forever shout from the rooftops that everything he does is gold plated genius but the reality is that he's as fallible as the rest of us. He may be more adept at knocking out an opponent than 99.999% of the world's population but when it comes to the day to day issues of what you post on social media and how you deal with your employers, he doesn't have all the answers.
That's not to say he's gone off the rails over the past couple of weeks but it would be difficult to suggest he's come out of this as a winner. History may change that of course but at this moment in time, the public posturing appears to have backfired. He took a stand on the level of promotion he was doing, despite the fact that he's long accused fellow fighters of not doing enough in that regard, and he paid the price.
Having said that, there's not many out there who actually believe it's all about promotion. It's a power play and the UFC responded in kind. The Fertittas were backed into a corner and they came out swinging but the damage was done as soon as McGregor decided he wasn't going to show up at that press conference, he'd made the 'feud' public and the billionaires with old school Sicilian blood never far from the surface weren't about to whimper in the corner.
How it plays out in the long term is anyone's guess but, at the moment, the fans, the promotion and McGregor himself all come out of it worse for wear. And they may well be billionaires but you better believe that losing McGregor from the card will hit the Fertittas hard in the pocket.
As an indication of that, you need only look at the early estimates for the pay-per-view numbers that UFC 200's new star attraction managed to pull in for UFC 197.
It must be said that the withdrawal of Daniel Cormier from the event was far from ideal. Ovince Saint Preux, for all his merits, is not a name to hang a PPV card off. But Jones is, or at least it's long been claimed that he is. However, the fact that the man who many would suggest is the third biggest star in the UFC, only managed to pull in between 300,000 and 350,000 for his comeback bout is very telling indeed.
— MMA Supremacy (@MMASupremacy) April 28, 2016
To put that in context, here are the record UFC events in terms of PPV buys.
And if the PPV estimates for 197 aren't enough to go by then how about the turnover at the gate?
Surprised it hasn't been mentioned more, but a $2.3 million gate for UFC 197 is one of the lowest for a Vegas PPV in the last 5 years.
— Mookie Alexander (@mookiealexander) April 26, 2016
Jones and Cormier, once they get down to the press conference feuding will do a decent job of selling UFC 200. There's also the fact that the co-main event is yet to be announced, but the UFC's top brass would be lying if they tried to claim that those numbers weren't worrying. Before the emergence of Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, the top five PPV events had been unchanged since 2010. The numbers had stagnated big time and now that the two golden eggs are on temporary hiatus, it's highly unlikely that there'll be anywhere near the kind of interest from the general public that will put what was supposed to be a landmark event into the 1.5/1.6 million PPV range.
McGregor may be losing out big time by stepping aside for a few months and putting himself on long term collision course with the UFC, but at least he can console himself with the knowledge that his absence will have some serious effects on the promotions bottom line.