Wednesday, 27 May 2009


What is “the next level” for the UFC? Recently the ESPN sports network broadcast a special televised witch hunt featuring Dana White, in which he was chastised for swearing and not acting the part of a distant corporate sports owner. During this programme the interviewers pondered whether Dana was the right man to take the UFC publicly forward to the “next level.” How do we know when this “next level” is achieved? How can it even be defined? I do not agree that one single event constitutes an achievement of “next level” status. There is no black and white, win or lose. The grey area of continuous UFC expansion rests on a number of factors including: The Maintenance of current event standards. Television network and Pay Per View deals. Wider MMA legislation. Event frequency. UFC branded products. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world but is still comparatively young when compared to the sports it now seeks to eclipse. The goals and obstacles it faces are still at a basic survival level. Apart from the UFC, most other promotions main concern is staying afloat. They have enough problems either filling seats in the current economy or finding a business model that will allow both profit and growth. The influx of new fighters to the UFC is greater than the amount of event places available. The UFC is on a constant hunt for unknown talent, out of contract stars, and camera savvy TUF contestants. Aside from certain legendary fighters, the UFC is quick to cut the contracts of fighters who fail to entertain or perform, but just being a UFC veteran can help a fighter gain places in other organisations. With their constant rotation and roster culling, the UFC does all it can to ensure that the best fighters stay within the organisation. Sometimes a young fighter may lose form and have his contract cut, before proving himself with a smaller promotion and returning to “The Big Show.” Great fights can never be absolutely guaranteed, but by keeping the cream fresh, the UFC tries to stack the odds in the fan’s favour. The UFC is in such a unique position of rapid expansion that media commentators seem to be concerned that the UFC is not ready for mainstream television. Or perhaps as Dana affirmed, mainstream TV may not be ready for the UFC. As long as the PPV numbers are big enough and often enough, why would the UFC even care? The UFC has a great additional revenue source from its DVDs, which also include the back catalogue of pre Zuffa shows, and of course the fabulous PRIDE FC shows obtained during the promotion buy-out. There will always be opponents to combat sports, be it boxing, martial arts, or MMA. There will always be people who just don’t like it, as many others do not like football or darts. The UFC cannot aim to convert the entire world into either practicing fighters or avid viewers, but it is doing a great job of expanding its horizons in a fast but seemingly controlled manner. (NEXT: MMA LEGISLATION)

1 comment:

  1. Well said fella. Personally, I would say MMA is currently at level 3 so to speak. Level 1 was the beginning of UFC when it was very much BJJ v Muay Thai v Boxing etc and no one really cross trained. Level 2 would have been when Zuffa took over as of UFC 30 and the likes of Chuck, Randy, Matt Hughes etc started developing what we now know as the "art" of MMA and level 3 would have commenced with the birth of Pride on 11 October 1997. What is level 4 and how does MMA achieve it? I couldn't tell you