Monday, 1 June 2009
THE UFC’S NEXT LEVEL (3), BRANDED PRODUCTS
The UFC’s progress to the mystical “Next Level” will also be accelerated by brand recognition. T-shirts and posters are the staple of MMA events, so these are to be expected. Of course we have in recent years seen MMA events based on t-shirts, as well! The UFC are expanding their brand in a few areas now. The opening of UFC gyms. Official collectors trading cards and action figures. The UFC 2009 Undisputed videogame. The first UFC commercial gym in England will be in Birmingham. It will be open to all of the family who wish to get fit and perhaps engage in some MMA training at various levels. This sounds like a great idea to get normal gym monkeys into MMA. It could also help to provoke some interest from budding female fighters in the UK, by taking the “boxercise” idea and expanding it to casual MMA training. We could see a whole new generation of female amateur stars, who will naturally force events to be created for them when the desire to turn professional becomes strong. I will be buying the UFC action figures and trading cards if they become easily available in the UK. This is because I am a muppet, and like that sort of thing anyway. They can stand next to my “Spinal Tap” dolls, and my “Monty Python” trading cards. I do wonder how popular the action figures will be outside of adult collectors like myself. Is the UFC popular enough with young children, the other age demographic that likes action figures? At this stage I would have thought not. Perhaps in a few years this may change. In the meantime, muppets like me can snap them up and keep them in their original packaging, while wives and partners roll their eyes in despair. The UFC 2009 Undisputed Video game is a major step forward for the UFC. The reviews that the game has received show that it is in a market by itself as a more realistic fighting game. No fireballs, dragon punches or enormously muscled combat androids here. And no, Brock does not count. The game is a simulation of MMA skills including stand-up, grappling and most importantly, ground fighting. While the mechanism is not perfect, the clarity of the moves is outstanding and this will help put to bed one of the major issues new UFC viewers have: understanding the ground game and submissions. Many fans who are uneducated about the ground game claim to find it boring, and it is the area where non fans typically insert tired homo-erotic comments. Fans of the fighting genre of video games will have explanation and visual training in the execution and terminology of BJJ. I believe this in itself will be a major step forward in the recruitment of many new UFC fans, who will watch their first live show or PPV with better technique recognition skills than those who came to MMA in previous years. The only downside of this may be an arena full of fans empathetically pretending to hammer the “X” button to help a fighter escape a tight triangle choke.