UFC 121 Storylines: The Cain Velasquez Marketing Campaign

October 22, 2010

The UFC has not been shy in how they are promoting Cain Velasquez.  From the UFC 121 commercial stating that Cain could be the first Mexican champion, to the promotional videos shown below, the UFC is clearly banking on the Mexican fans to rally behind their potential Mexican HW champion Saturday night.

El Guerrero – Cain Velasquez:

Fight Hub – Cain Velasquez Gets Mobbed In LA


StitchDuranWeigh-ins was jammed packed with rabid fans. When I started the only Chicanos interested in the UFC where me and Tito. Not any more.

E. Casey Leydon (All Elbows)The brown angle is working well right now judging by the crowd here at the weighins.

Wrestling Observer (subscription)There is interest in the Mexican community in the main event. It’s funny because they really don’t know Velasquez, but because of all the commercials, people do know that a Mexican is challenging for the world heavyweight title and that has piqued interest.


– Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez are Twitter trends in the USA today.  Velasquez is also a Twitter Trend topic worldwide.

Payout Perspective:

Boxing promoters have tried for many years to discover a Mexican HW champion that people could rally behind, knowing that the potential payoff in such a find would be huge due to the heavy Mexican support for their fellow fighters.  The strategy is nothing new to Boxing, who tried doing the same with John Ruiz (born in Massachusetts), who became the first Latino Heavyweight Champion after he defeated Evander Holyfield to capture the WBA HW Championship back in 2001.  Earlier this year, boxing was trying to do it again, though this time with newcomer Chris Arreola, but he was completely over-matched in his title bout against HW champion Vitali Klitschko.

The UFC is now trying to do something boxing has failed to do in the past, and that’s to find their “first” Mexican HW Champion (though Cain was born in the USA).  The potential payoff is huge again here, and if Cain were to win, the UFC can always come back to Southern California or Mexico, where Cain would become a huge star.  The reality is that once Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya retired from boxing, the Mexican combat fans PPV money has been on hold waiting for the next national hero to appear and support. The UFC hopes that next “Mexican” star to be Velasquez after Saturday night.

Despite the success of the campaign, the marketing strategy has irked quite a few fans and many have complained about the UFC “over doing it”, but these opportunities don’t present themselves very often in combat sports, and the UFC is looking to be one of the first to be able to cash in on the opportunity.  The weigh-ins for this event have already been reported to having more Mexican/Latino fans than ever before.  The only question now is if Cain can deliver and give the Mexican fight fans someone they can rally behind, which will ultimately mean a growing audience in the coveted Latino demographic.

7 Responses to “UFC 121 Storylines: The Cain Velasquez Marketing Campaign”

  1. Jason Cruz on October 22nd, 2010 6:56 PM

    Great post Jose. I am surprised that TIto Ortiz in his prime was not promoted this way and that he did not draw more fans to MMA from the Mexican community. If he was, I don’t recall it. He was the LH Champ for about 2 years.

  2. Steve on October 22nd, 2010 8:09 PM

    The UFC really didn’t do much promotion of anyone during Tito’s title reign. They were deep in the red and running on a shoestring budget. They lacked the resources to give Tito the kind of push in 2002 that they are giving Cain in 2010.

  3. Tweets that mention UFC 121 Storylines: The Cain Velasquez Marketing Campaign : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA -- Topsy.com on October 22nd, 2010 10:23 PM

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  4. Jose Mendoza on October 22nd, 2010 11:34 PM


    Pretty much. The way to the UFC pushed Tito back when he was champ was for him to appear on a few radio stations and on Fox Sports Net’s “Best Damm Sports Show” sitting next to John Salley and Chris Rose. The huge marketing campaigns from the UFC only really started around 2007 or so, around the time Lesnar came to the UFC. Coincidence? 😉

  5. oii on October 23rd, 2010 4:32 AM

    people from mexico would not fully embrace mma as a sport.because they have a macho culture that dosent like grappling or rolling around in the ground…now if Dana decides to tell the fighters to stay in stand up..and beat each other with small gloves than that would be interesting to them
    even in boxing where there is no grappling mexicans have theyre favorites….fighters like dela hoya have split the mexican fans..women and casual fans love him but hardcore or majority of male mexicans dont like him because he fights in a scientific way and not in a mexican way which is to fight like julio cesar chaves sr., fernando vargas or jorge arce

  6. Brain Smasher on October 24th, 2010 4:08 PM

    Tito wasnt really pushed to the mexicans because the UFC was still trying to draw in Americans at the time. MMA wasnt accepted that much and Tito made his rounds on BDSSP on fox and other shows to push the UFC to americans. It would not have been smart for the UFC to start out catering to hispanics before Americans. Americans would have been more resistant. Also Tito himself wasnt really making himself appeal to Hispanics either. He was out trying to be the next hulk hogan. You wont draw the hispanics dting your hair blonde.


    MMA wasnt appealing to Americnas eithers. I have followed this sport for a long time and people used to call the ground game gay and boo when it hit the ground. Peoples minds have to be changed and the best way to do that is make them interested. When people show up to “just see fights’ they will boo the ground agme. But if they come to see someone or are cheering someone they dont care how their guy wins as long as he wins. You just have to get the mexicans to rally behind someone as it appears they are with Cain. Ones they get used to the ground game like Americans are then it wont be an issue. Its just new right now and you just have to get them used to seeing it. Mexicans are not more against the ground game than anyone else. Americans hated it dispite having a Ametuer wrestling program second to none in the states and Pro wrestling being very popular. The reason the pro wrestling fan of 1998 was calling the ground game gay while at the same time cheering a 10 minute sleeper hold with 2 oily men in underwear in WWE is the guy simply had no invested interest in the fighters like he did the wrestlers. Mexicans like Luta Libre wrestling so they arent completely against the idea of grappling. You just have to sell the characters and make them care about who wins and loses.

  7. Jason Cruz on October 25th, 2010 9:17 PM

    I think with Tito, he had his own “gimmick”. He was the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” – an outlaw. He could sell a fight by talking smack and had a look.

    Cain, on the other hand, seems more of an introvert. He seems like a nice guy but doesn’t have the persona. I think the marketing campaign was spot on to promote the fight.

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