BJ Penn Vs Florian Set for UFC 101

March 30, 2009

According to his website and local hometown paper, BJ Penn’s showdown with Kenny Florian will take place at UFC 101 on August 8 in Philadelphia. The contest should be an interesting gauge of the public reaction to Penn’s loss to GSP and the subsequent Grease-gate controversy. While there can be any range of scenarios that could take place, Penn’s challenge of the decision before NSAC may not be a bad thing for business after all.

All too often these controversies are overblown, online tempests in a teapot. To what degree the mainstream consumer of UFC PPV’s is even aware such a controversy is questionable. Penn will retain a large portion of the fan base he has built up to this point for this very reason. To the portion of fans that did follow Greasegate, it will be interesting to see what the fall out from the situation will be. You may see a good portion of fans that will turn on Penn, but that is not necessarily a bad thing for business. Whereas before you had a group of people that would pay to see BJ fight, ostensibly paying to see him win….you now have a group of fans that were turned off by his actions in challenging his loss. To a large degree if these people are buying the PPV, they will be paying to see Penn lose, not so much to see Florian win.

It is an odd dynamic, not unlike that experienced by Matt Hughes after his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. Hughes emerged from that show a much bigger draw, owing to the dichotomy of feelings from the UFC fanbase. In Penn’s case, it may take a deft touch by the UFC in playing up this duality, but if they do it right can end up being profitable.

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