Matt Brown rips boxing promoters refusing to follow UFC’s lead: ‘They’re still stuck in the 1990s’

When Max Holloway pointed to the ground and invited Justin Gaethje to throw down in the final seconds of their UFC 300 fight, and ultimately produced one of the most jaw-dropping finishes in history, UFC CEO Dana White made a difficult choice.

The viral moment would undoubtedly end up posted by thousands of users across social media despite the UFC’s desire to sell an $80 pay-per-view. Within minutes, the UFC decided to post the clip on all of its channels — including White’s own — along with multiple angles, fighter reactions, and even a slow-motion clip to keep the fervor going.

UFC welterweight Matt Brown believes that’s just one of many examples of how the company he’s called home for the past 16 years continues to evolve and embrace the future, unlike the sport of boxing, which he feels stays mired in the past.

“That was the first thing that popped into my mind — [UFC’s] social media,” Brown said about the Holloway clip on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “They’re using this Nina Drama girl, I’m not a fan at all, I don’t enjoy watching her stuff, but I 1000 percent get why they do it. It gets clicks and she’s good at what she does — no hate or anything, it’s just not my thing. But the UFC is totally embracing getting more clicks, getting more views, getting more social media, and boxing doesn’t do that shit at all. They’re still stuck in the 1990s.

“We could say that boxing is doing it because they’re doing influencer boxing. You know as well as I do, that’s not boxing. Influencer boxing is its own genre. It’s separate from real boxing. It’s not bringing fans to boxing. No one discovered Guillermo Rigondeaux because of f*cking Jake Paul. It doesn’t go that deep.”

Part of the problem surrounding boxing is that many of its biggest fights still do blockbuster numbers in ticket and pay-per-view sales, but those events are few and far between. The whole world will tune in to watch Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk, but rarely does anyone know or care about the fighters competing on the undercard of the random televised event that might follow a week or so later featuring up-and-coming prospects.

Because those marquee cards still gain a ton of interest, Brown doesn’t see much effort on boxing’s part to fix what they would argue isn’t broken.

“UFC is doing a great job embracing that,” Brown said. “You love that or not, if you’re more a traditionalist — like I’m naturally more a traditionalist, and I don’t know if I’d say it’s a character flaw of mine or I’m just an old motherf*cker or whatever, but I’m always slow to embrace these kinds of new things and I think I’m in the same spectrum as these boxing guys. They’re just slow to embrace this shit.”

Brown knows there are boxers who transcend beyond the traditional promotional model, but he doesn’t see that philosophy adopted enough. Certainly not at the level of the UFC, which Brown feels makes a huge difference with fans looking to find fighters to support.

The 43-year-old veteran has felt it tremendously during his own career. He’s racked up the most knockouts in UFC welterweight history, but fans constantly still bring up an altercation he had on The Ultimate Fighter where one of his roommates played a prank by putting lemon juice in his chewing tobacco.

Ryan Garcia, he was an influencer before he was famous as a boxer,” Brown said. “He had a huge, huge social media following, so he’s a great example of someone already embracing that. But also, just even the boxers themselves. The one thing that I think the UFC has done better than any sports organization in history is the way that they have promoted the personalities of the fighters.

“That’s a huge reason why people get so engaged with the UFC and they become attached to certain fighters. It’s because they magnify who you are as a person from The Ultimate Fighter, the behind the scenes stuff, and I feel like boxing and other sports, they try to do it a little bit but they have not accomplished it even remotely close to what the UFC has done. I’m not going to say that I know the way necessarily to do it, but somebody should take a deep dive into what the UFC’s doing and how they’re doing it.”

Brown knows there are undeniably huge stars throughout boxing, but the sheer amount of overall interest pales in comparison to UFC on a grand scale.

In a perfect world, Brown would love to see boxing embrace the UFC’s model more often to build stars, gain fan interest, and make the sport more accessible to the social media audience, but he’s not sure it will ever happen.

“People get invested in emotions more than anything else,” Brown said. “That’s why Sean Strickland got so famous. He says some shit that fires people the f*ck up. You either love him or you hate him, for the most part. That’s what works. He says shit that pisses some people off, shit that other people love. He’s just one example. There’s a million people like that. The interesting thing about the UFC is that it doesn’t matter what your personality is, they magnify it.

“Just a brilliant marketing strategy. We could talk all day about fighter pay and things like that, but can’t deny the f*cking brilliant business that Dana [White] and company have built. When it comes down to just pure business and numbers and marketing strategies, they’ve done as good as a job as you could ask from any business. The whole point is the UFC knows how to build a motherf*cking star.”

Listen to new episodes of The Fighter vs. The Writer every Tuesday with audio only versions of the podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRadio

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