WHEN DOES BIG GET TOO BIG -The Dangers of the UFC

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Before we go any further on this blog I feel I have to make this point. It’s sad that I have to make it but such is life huhumm (clears throat)… The UFC IS NOT MMA!!! The UFC IS AN ORGANISATION THAT SHOWCASES THE SPORT OF MMA. Simple!

Unless you’re trying to explain what Mma is to the uninitiated then those of you that call Mma ‘Ultimate Fighting’ or ‘Cage fighting’ or anything else that you think makes you sounds cool, edgy or extreme, need to please follow these instructions.

1. Please place your ineffective, useless head at the mouth of a doorway

2. Make sure the door is either heavy wood or thick steel.

3. Finally place your head in said doorway and continue to open and shut it with all the ferocity you can muster in a Vinnie Jones, Lock Stock & two smoking barrels sort of way.

If you’re having trouble with this then ask around and I’m willing to bet that there will be an army of people you’ve offended with your nonsensical & dim-witted ways that will be more than happy to smash what little contents there is contained in your head over the floor provided.

I can hear you saying to yourselves ‘what difference does it make if I call it Ultimate fighting/Cage fighting and not Mma, it’s only a term describing the same thing, what’s does it matter what words you use as long as people know what you’re on about?’. To you I would respond ‘calm yourselves down… the door will shortly be free for your use’!

Many of you might think my Point, on what nickname you give Mma, is a small and somewhat insignificant point to make, but if you look closer I think it reflects the bigger picture and is one of the most worrying things about the UFC. Perhaps I’m wrong by saying this but, I can’t ever recall hearing Dana White call Mma…MMA. I’ve only ever heard him refer to Mma as ‘Ultimate Fighting’.
Now, I understand why he’s using the phrase ‘Ultimate Fighting’, he’s branding Mma, and hats off to Dana and the rest of the powers that be as they have done this VERY, VERY well. Branding and getting the UFC out there is their job so they don’t need to ignore the fact that the sport is MMA… but, like I said, hats off to them for doing an amazing job of it as they’ve almost made MMA into UFC, just as tissues are to Kleenex & Vacuums are to Hoovers etc. etc.

It all makes perfect sense because Dana White & Co are businessmen and, as good businessmen, it cleverly put’s their brand out there constantly. It’s free advertising for them as a huge amount of Mma fans use the term ‘UFC’ when taking about Mma in general. Mma fans out there need to remember that they are businessmen with a brand and, out of that brand, they make a lot of money from big named sponsors and you ( ‘the fan’) whilst you advertise their product for free.. It’s brilliant brand marketing!

Now this isn’t an anti UFC blog. I love the UFC. How can you not? They’re entwined with Mma so massively and to such a degree that for some people it has to be painfully pointed out that they are not one and the same thing. Credit where it’s due, the UFC has also done a lot of things that are great for the sport, but it’s only fair to say ‘what’s good for the UFC doesn’t automatically translate that it’s good for mma’.

Mma is more popular than ever! The standard of Mma is rising and we are getting to see some great fighters, most of which are fighting under one organisation- the UFC. You could argue Mma fans have never had it so good and to a point I agree, BUT To a point should be underlined heavily.
The thing that worries me more than anything is that MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, yet the only people making any real money out of the sport is the UFC. A sport so massively popular that five out of the top ten 2011 pay per views were UFC’s. Mma is unquestionably dominated, and to a large extent controlled, by ONE company! How can this be? Well, I think the answer lies in the fact the UFC spread their net wide and have introduced MMA to most parts to the world where they have no other means to access Mma shows. That, along with the clever branding they use, means the UFC have maintained the top spot- when it comes to Mma shows- for the longest time.

Now, we have to be careful not to fall in to the trap of vilifying the UFC for their success. I mean, “what are they meant to do, not be successful?”… no, of course not and it should be noted that the UFC has more than paid it’s dues for its current success as it was there at the start of the Mma revolution. In fact I’d go as far as to say it was pretty much the start of ‘mainstream Mma’.

In the early days the company lost a hell of a lot of money…somewhere around $30 million until they eventually stuck gold with the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ reality TV show, which got Mma out to the masses, and thus garnering the rewards. It should be remembered that no one gave them anything at the start and it was a hard road to walk. Even with that said and remembering all their early hardships, it has to be a concern. At the time of writing this the UFC are pretty much the only game in town and any time you’re the only game in town it means you get to set your own rules. Where is fighter X going to go if he thinks the rules aren’t fair? What are the alternatives?

To quote John Dalberg- Acton “power tends to corrupt, but absolute power corrupts absolutely” and the UFC has no plans to give up any of that power.

I’ve seen a UFC contract and once you sign it Dana White & Co have your SOUL (it’s rumoured Dana White uses them as paper weights in his office). It’s a tricky thing for fighters signed to them as the way the UFC are reported to go after people who disagree with them, on any number of issues, is with actions that are hard to describe in any other way…other than plain old bullying. At this moment in time Mma fighters have to just ride it out. It means they take their lumps inside, as well as outside, the cage and just hope they’re in agreement with the UFC’s view on things.

The UFC buying out Strikeforce, which was one off its last real competitors, has meant the UFC’s grasp on Mma just got that bit tighter. Since Pride went under and was bought out by the UFC it seemed it kick-started Japanese Mma into disarray and apart from the thousands of smaller shows out there, the only real competitor for the UFC at the moment is Bellator. Whilst they have achieved a lot in a short amount of time by getting shows out there and producing a promising alternative to the UFC… Dana White isn’t losing any sleep over them.

Other than Bellator you have to look to Asia to see signs of green shoots appearing.

We’ve got One FC that is putting together good quality shows with great production. They’re also holding some kind of summit, where they’re trying to bring together Mma companies across Asia, in the hope to band together to produce great quality Mma. I don’t know many details of this, if it will work or fall flat, but it is encouraging to see One FC trying to put something together and build some momentum. The people of One FC should be applauded for this.

We’ve then got the SFL (Super Fight League) who are based in India. I’ve fought for them twice now and while they’re not inviting me to meetings and showing me their blue prints for success, I do see behind the scenes of this organisation and I’m impressed with what a decent, committed, passionate team they have running the show.

In Europe the only big Mma shows I can think of are Showtime, which is a massive show that cross promotes Kick Boxing and Mma. These events sell out football stadiums in Holland but outside of Holland not many people know they exist, yet alone sell out massive football arenas. Then there’s KSW, a Polish Mma org that has a few promising Polish stars & great production quality. Like Showtime, KSW again doesn’t hold any weight anywhere in the world other than Poland. So as you can see there isn’t an abundance of choice for fighters outside the UFC realm.

I think that this monopoly the UFC holds over the Mma world will take time to change. Mma was brought to the world by the UFC and because of this it will take a long time for the casual fan to realise that the UFC is an organisation that showcases Mma fights and that the UFC is not actually the whole sport of MMA.

As Mma continues to grow then it stands to reason that in time other org’s (perhaps one I’ve mentioned earlier) will come along to rival the UFC and while the UFC will all ways be at the forefront of Mma, it will no longer be the only game in town. This is so much healthier for the fighters and Mma in general, not to mention -ironically enough- the UFC, as competition forces the best out of companies. It breeds the best out of people and companies simply because it has to… You have to be on your game to be able to survive. If you’re the only game in town, like the UFC are, then eventually somewhere down the line you get fat and lazy and everyone then suffers. There are so many examples of this through out history.

I believe we had better fight cards when Pride was around…Why? Well firstly, even though the fighters weren’t all under one organisation and Pride weren’t competing in the UFC’s backyard (apart from 1 pride show they did in Vegas) there were more ‘main event’ worthy match up’s on Pride shows to excite the fans. Pride kept the UFC on their toes as, at one point in time, Pride was genuine, healthy competition for the UFC. I don’t believe the UFC would have ever considered going down the road it seems to have now taken, in terms of aggressively adopting a boxing model for its fights i.e. one big fight per card, if pride were still around.

While on one hand it’s great for the fans to have most of the major Mma competitors under one roof, on the other I feel the fans ultimately suffer because these fights are now spread out over so many different pay per view events.

I’m not exactly sure what the pay per view costs are for a UFC card, I think it’s somewhere between $50 and $75 in the States. When there are three… sometimes four UFC PPV’s a month then not only is the talent being spread thinly, but all the PPV’s are saturating the market. This is why the PPV sales for the UFC have dropped significantly, that’s not to say that they’re not still turning over a massive profit.

The main reason that the UFC 151 was cancelled was the fact they couldn’t find a replacement fighter for the main event, which meant the card simply wasn’t strong enough to sell without their one major, monster fight.

Nowadays the UFC has to have so many events because it has so many fighters under contract that all want and need to fight. So, even if the UFC agreed that they were saturating the market it would make no difference as they would still need to keep putting on shows to keep the many fighters under contract with them busy. This is another reason why the fans and fighters need more competition and choice when it comes to Org’s.

So, what am I hoping for? I, as a Mma fighter AND fan want a viable alternative option to the UFC. Dana White would say that the reason that there isn’t another big Mma org out there right now is because it’s not an easy thing to achieve. I think he’d be a 100% right for saying that, it isn’t easy but never the less it needs to happen otherwise we’ll be paying more money… for less fights.

I, for one, want healthy competition inside the cage as well as outside of it.

As always, thanks for reading and taking time out to comment, my new weekly PODCAST is out and the link is here for anyone that wants to check it out

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/colossal-concerns-podcast/id558622595

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35 thoughts on “WHEN DOES BIG GET TOO BIG -The Dangers of the UFC

  1. I do agree. Brilliant writing, big guy!

  2. micky day says:

    great write up and your so right on many levels, iam a massive mma fan and watch all the shows,bellator, mfc, titan, SF, onefc,bamma uk and of course ufc (put it this way am mad on mma lol), I agree we need another big org to compete and the way bellator are going I dont think it will be long before they are up there with the UFC, they have a good tv deal, have some great fighters and probably put on more entertaining cards than the UFC, (just because you dont no a few names dont mean the card is gonna be crap) imo bellator need to do what UFC did years ago and start airing there shows on free TV in other country’s to gain an international fans, I only get to watch it as I download them (pirating haha) anyway look forward to more posts like this big fella ;)

    • jcolossus says:

      Thanks for the support and hope Bealltor grows their’ve done well so far but to really start to compete with the UFC they’re going to need to tempted fighter over to them which mean more cash.Which is hard to do

  3. BigzMMA says:

    I completely agree big man, I love watching the UFC events, but after 2010 we can notice now that each fight card they put on is getting weaker and weaker on recognisable names. Talent isn’t the issue (there’s a reason why all those fighters are in the UFC) but if they are not been given the chance to build on their own name then it just makes it harder for them to be considered one of the top fighters in the world. The only way they can do this is if a card is strong enough on big names for people to pay and watch, and if more people do so, then more people can watch those lesser known fighters and if they impress, then they build up the fan base needed to state a case to main event major PPV cards. UFC 100 is a brilliant example of this, as the top three fights that everyone wanted to watch was the TUF 9 coaches Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson, then it was the Welterweight title fight between GSP and Thiago Alves and the big Heavyweight title fight between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. Those three fights resulted the card getting approx. 1,600,000 buyrate, which means that so many people were interested to see the big names fighting, that those same people were getting to see what the lesser known fighters were about. Lesser known names like JON ‘BONES’ JONES, PAULO THIAGO, and JIM MILLER were on that fight card, now look how they stand in the world rankings in their respective divisions. This kind of exposure is crucial for both them and the UFC to keep floating higher and higher, as if there isn’t big enough names coming about, maybe more UFC events will get cancelled in the future.

    This is why I reckon that after this year the UFC should knock down the amount of events they do a year by at least 5 events compared to this year (from PPV, FOX, FX or FUEL TV). Just so that each fight card can get some more strength which will encourage more people to watch each one.

    They should also put less pressure on all the fighters, both bigger names and lesser known names, to have to win as just 2 or 3 unlucky losses could force them out of the UFC, which will mean they will go from having a good contract that will ensure that they can live entirely off the money they make from competing to being released from that contract and not knowing that whether they can make a decent enough income from fighting outside the ZUFFA product to keep doing it. Because of this fighters are taking far less risks in fights and taking the safer path to both winning fights and getting better positioning on future fight cards, which we, as fans, hate with an almighty passion. By taking this, in my opinion, unnecessary pressure off them quite a bit they can focus more on letting them take a few more risks without worrying about what the future will hold for them if it doesn’t pay off, whilst they are in the middle of their own fight by the way. It’s because of this idea that even fighters who aren’t competing for the UFC are reducing the risks they are taking just so that they can build up a good record and improve their chances of being able to get signed up by the UFC as soon as possible. The UFC basically should be doing more to encourage fighters to take more risks and be more exciting by not punishing them if they do take them but they don’t work out and make the fighters who bored the world to collect another W for their record take the longest path possible to the belt just to make them try to be a tad more exciting. Basically if they treat all their exciting fighters they way they did with Dan Hardy (an always exciting fighter who was on a four fight losing streak before collecting a TKO win under the UFC), then everyone will want to be exciting, just because they can produce a more fans to come in just by showing how fun it is to watch MMA (may that be a KO specialist or a Submission machine).

    If the UFC does these two things, then both its product, and MMA in general, will be just as exciting as it was back in the PRIDE days.

  4. madamerican says:

    Love your blog.
    Great insight as usual, agree with everything you say, basically.
    You forgot to mention M1 Global, though, or are you not even considering them as a legit org?
    Although it’s not easy to find MMA fans in Spain, I for one follow MMA as a whole, and try to watch everything I can: One FC, SFL, Bellator, KSW, Titan, MFC and of course, Strikeforce (what’s left of it) and the UFC. I believe Bellator puts the best shows overall and love the tourney format. The UFC seems to have made a big mistake signing with FOX and also granting their fighters a health insurance, which is great for the fighters but it’s also leading to a lot of injuries lately… and thus the first scrapping of a show, for instance.

    Hope to see you fighting again soon!

    • jcolossus says:

      Thanks for support. I didn’t forget M1 I just don’t see them as a threat to the UFC.

      I like bellator as well home they keep improving.

      I don’t think UFC made a mistake going to fox think its a mistake to have a 45minute buildup than only have 1-2 fights.

      Have to disagree with you on the health insurance it’s a good thing if the fighters are getting this. Thats not the reason fighters are getting injuryed. Their’d get injuryed regardless it good their covered. Dont think fighters are getting injuryed just to take advantages of for health care.

      • madamerican says:

        Don’t get me wrong, health insurance is great for the fighters, but since then there seems to be more injuries… I’m not saying they are taking advantage of it in that sense, nobody wants to get injured, but one has to wonder how many times fighters went out there with some minor injuries and they no longer do…
        Agree with you on the 45 min buildup… boxing model and all that

      • jcolossus says:

        I think their has been a lot of injuries lately think it’s just been an unlucky streak. Fighter might not want to risk going in if their not 100% because of the getting cut by the UFC I think that has to be the reason because other wise their not gettin paid.

  5. Adam says:

    Would you ever consider fighting in bellator or ufc? your fans in the here in the states miss you man.

  6. Adam says:

    sorry for my poor grammer

  7. Pat says:

    Another great article. While providing a bunch of great points, staying neutral and making sure people don’t think you’re writing something spiteful.
    Looking forward to trying the podcast, too.

    Side note: I was browsing the intertubes and saw a product for cauliflower ear treatment, and to my surprise, I see a familiar face for their spokesmodel. While not the most glamourous of products, it was cool to see your mug on something.

  8. Ermanno says:

    I wouldn’t have thought of you as such a great writer, I guess it’s right to never judge a book by it’s cover. Terrific article!

  9. Wolfman says:

    Thanks. Really… Thanks a lot for this. People need to wake up about it. This is a sport, not just a business and no competition at all hurts the sport and the chance of many other new fighters.

    I guess you’re the only fighter with the balls to say it TBH. Everyone else just smiles and says Dana is their boss, which he isn’t really.

    Keep the great job, JT. I’ll be following your podcast from now on too. :)

  10. Jon Krol says:

    I enjoyed the post James and I’m a big fan, but just a couple things I wanted to note. I think people call MMA “cage fighting” or “ultimate fighting” because it’s such a new sport and the general public is still not really sure exactly what “MMA” is. “Cage” fighting implies fighting in a cage, so that breaks it down for people, as does “fighting” in the name because everybody understands what a fight is. Now, I know that there are inconsistencies with both of those terms. Sometimes MMA is fought in a ring and not a cage, and what the hell does “ultimate” fighting even mean? I agree with you in the sense that the UFC has been good at marketing ultimate fighting as a brand and have led people to believe the terms UFC and MMA are interchangeable. But I also think people identify it as such because they need to know what they’re talking about and “cage fighting” or “utlimate fighting” make sense in a grammatical and language-based sense. Not to say this is excusable. A good opinion is a well-informed opinion… but until these people learn about MMA, they will ALWAYS think of it as fighting.

  11. Subham Dey says:

    Written the truth & dane should stop it.

  12. tigeraid says:

    All good points. For me oversaturation is by far the biggest problem. I used to look forward to getting together with a few buddies, and order a PPV probably every month, at worst every two months. Every show had a “big” feel to it, the cards were stacked, and even if you got the occasional boring-looking card on paper, you still wanted to see two or three of the fights.

    Now, it seems like every card is BIG MAIN EVENT + six fights you don’t care about. The injury bug is a BIG part of it for 2012, but that doesn’t take away from the fact the cards were weak to begin with–had each card been stacked, then one or even two of the fights being messed up due to injury would not have ruined the card.

    Money is tight for us, so spending $70 on a PPV that has a good chance of sucking is not even remotely a good idea. It’s bound to start hurting UFC’s revenue at some point.

    I want to stress though, I LOVE the FX and Fuel cards. These are the kind of cards that are OKAY with less recognizable names, and I love that I get to see all of these in HD, in full, in Canada on Sportsnet.

    2013 can only be better though, there’s got to be an end to this string of bad luck with injuries.

    I would love to see the UFC put a bit more effort into some tournament formats–I thoroughly enjoyed the Flyweight tournament, they need to do at least one of these things a year to generate interest in fighters that might have less of a name.

    Oh, and both Bellator and K-1 are going to be broadcast on Spike TV next year, which is a huge step in getting Americans interested in stuff other than the UFC.

    • jcolossus says:

      I Agree i think 2013 will be a good year hopefully their’ll be a few more stable mma org as well.i don’t see a way around the UFC having so many card though what with the amount of fighter they’ve got tp keep busy. maybe they should work out a bulk buy policy. But i see your point and that why ppv are down.

  13. Great stuff! I nodded my head through pretty much every word.

    Hopefully we’ll see more ‘MMA’ out there and the fans turn onto it.

  14. Edgerson says:

    I’m looking to get a capable author, long time in this location. Excellent write-up!

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