Triller Fight Club: Servicing true desires of the fight fan mob
The Triller Fight Club has skyrocketed to notoriety by channeling the best and worst of fight fan’s desires. And this Saturday’s event (April 17), featuring a headliner between Jake Paul and Ben Askren, is just another example of the organization offering fans what they really seem to want.
I, like many other fight aficionados, had no idea what Triller was or even offered the world before their brand produced one of the most successful boxing events in recent memory. Their semi-inaugural event in November–headlined by an old-timers exhibition between boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr.–earned 1.6 million pay-per-view buys. A number that lands in the top-10 for all-time combat sports PPVs. Triller, with a card led by middle-aged men and B-list celebrities, turned boxers, produced a buys number the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and top boxing promoters struggle to do with elite fighters. How did we get to this?
Blame Matchroom and the Paul Bros.
Triller’s astounding success after one event begs the question: What do fight fans really like? The UFC has grown to global notoriety on promoting the best all-around fighters on the planet. Boxing’s history is rich by showcasing the finest pugilists in the world. However, over the last couple of years, fight consumers have shown that watching competitors who are actually talented or relevant may not be a necessity. Just being popular has proven more than enough, and the Paul Brothers, with the assistance of Matchroom Boxing, proved that in 2019.
Almost exactly a year before Tyson versus Jones, Jr., Matchroom Boxing–the promotional home of superstar boxers Anthony Joshua and Gennady Golovkin–promoted a “boxing” match between two YouTube sensations in Logan Paul and Olajide Olatunji, AKA “KSI.” It really doesn’t matter how the booking came together, but that it actually happened, and ended up getting over a million buys on streaming service DAZN.
Nominees for the best knockout
This moment in time kicked open the door to all kinds of booking tomfoolery in boxing rings. Including Paul’s brother Jake joining the fun and landing a co-main event spot against former NBA player Nate Robinson, on the Tyson versus Jones, Jr. card. Paul knocked the former New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls guard out cold in the second round, and the video of the “fight” racked up over seven million views on Paul’s YouTube channel. A video of a 2-0 boxing novice versus a former NBA player has more views than a half as long official UFC video showing the 2020 nominees for the best knockout. Let that sink in.
It’s a safe assumption that more people would rather watch Jake Paul’s next fight than UFC welterweight champion, and pound-for-pound talent, Kamaru Usman. As a veteran MMA journalist and a fan of combat sports for two decades, the thought hurts my head. However, credit must be given to Triller for realizing the tastes of fights fans and offering multi-course meal fans enjoyed. Essentially, Triller served up two-old boxing greats, a couple of B-list celebs, and performances from Wiz Khalifa and French Montana, and fans ate it up to the ka-ching sound of near to two million buys.
Triller Fight Club: It’s wrong but feels so right
For all the Game of Thrones shame bell ringing, I’m doing it’s hard to deny Triller is booking fights that are intriguing. Despite a combined age of 106-years-old, I could not help but be fascinated by the idea of heavyweight great Mike Tyson returning to the ring after 15 years to face one of the best boxers of the last 30 years in Jones, Jr. In addition they did offer legitimate pugilistic fair in a matchup between Badou Jack and Blake McKernan. I watched it all, and I liked it.
For the fledgling promotions’ latest foray into fight booking, they are going with a narrative that combat sports fans have debated as the UFC rose to prominence over the last 20 years. Who would win if boxing’s best fought against MMAs best? A combo pack of that will be offered up inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in Atlanta on Saturday night. First with an appetizer, when former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir makes his pro-boxing debut against former IBF and WBC cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham. Then the main course in the main event.
Rubbing people the wrong way
Now, I’ll be the first to say Jake Paul versus Ben Askren is a poor excuse for a boxing match. Considering “Funky” made his MMA career off being a grappling specialist when that wasn’t a thing anymore. However, the booking has the perfect ingredients for boatloads of money to be made. The booking pits two personalities who can sell a fight while rubbing people the wrong way. They are both popular, yet so many people want to see them get beat up. In addition, it’s an even matchup in terms of boxing skill level. The fight is equal parts relevant and irrelevant on a sporting level.
Not to be outdone by the previous event, Triller will once again offer a cornucopia of musical performances in between bouts. The promotion will subject your ears to the likes of Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, Doja Cat, Diplo, Major Lazer, and the exclusive world premiere of the hip hop supergroup Mt. Westmore (Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Too $hort and E-40}.
The Triller circus is back in town on Saturday, and they are servicing your best and worst fight wants. I know you can’t wait.Join the discussion on this topic...