The Ultimate Fighting Championship has raised the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) to higher grounds, landing it on pay-per-view, mainstream sporting news and eventually network television.
All MMA fighters — striking and grappling their way up the ranks — long for a phone call from the UFC. It’s the grand stage of mixed martial arts, and that doesn’t look like it will be changing in the near future.
Throughout the 90’s, many campaigns were run to sabotage the “brutal” sport that is MMA. The UFC had stumbled and scurried, but in the end, it rebound to become better and more successful than ever before.
Zuffa LLC’s buying of the UFC in 2001 changed the sport for the better. Rules and regulations, gloves, weight classes were all part of the massive reform. Some fans of the sport — only in the bestial aspect — walked away, while the real ones remained and got the ride of their lives.
While the UFC was dragging through mishaps in the USA, The highly popular PRIDE FC was running smoothly in Japan. Many mixed martial arts fighters decided it was worth crossing the pond, going to Pride to avoid politics; at that point PRIDE actually became the sport’s top promotional powerhouse.
Only after rigorous marketing, hundreds of fighter-signings and the creation of the still thriving “Ultimate Fighter” reality series did the UFC reestablish itself on new grounds and become the next big thing in the next big sport.
Over the years, the UFC has grown even more, overthrowing its greatest competitors in Strikeforce, WEC and yes, Pride FC. It wasn’t a pretty scene for the common mixed martial arts fan, as the UFC chewed up all of these major promotions rosters, and began spitting out many talented fighters (and their careers) into the dirt. They had the power, and quite frankly most decisions were made on a business level.
Before the buyout of Pride, there was always another place for a fighter to go if they were unsatisfied with the UFC’s terms. Even with the WEC, Strikeforce still existing at the time, they couldn’t nearly match the UFC’s terms. In other words – all hail the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The UFC’s vicious grasping of an entire sport, and all the potential careers within it, turns away young athletes who would prefer a more stable base for life. You hear it all the time, this guy gets dropped because Dana White didn’t like something he said or Dana White doesn’t like his style or Dana White feels he’s not worth the money.
Then we have finance. As with anything, the crinkle of the wallet is also a concern with mixed martial arts. Imagine you are a good athlete; let’s say you are a tall person, good reach, good height, good boxing skills and the ability to scalp in a three pointer. You’d be making substantially more money as a second-tier boxer or NBA player than an elite level MMA fighter. Is it worth the physical risk? Not really.
What if the UFC had a serious competitor? Currently, Bellator Fighting Championships hosts evenly matched second-level MMA fights and the best tournaments on the sport. It is gaining popularity as it is televised weekly on Spike.
What about World Series of Fighting? It is a good smaller promotion by Ray Sefo that recently signed a deal with the NBC Sports Network. Nothing close to the budget, roster or overall quality the UFC contains.
If a real, legitimate investor arose in the sport of MMA, what would happen? Well, to truly gain a foothold in mixed martial arts, we once again strike the money chord, how much can he invest? Can he buy out the Anderson Silva, George St-Pierre, Jon Jones or Cain Velasquez? Perhaps. But the UFC didn’t build itself up just to be toppled over, there would be some fireworks.
In conclusion, it would also raise the stakes for young fighters looking to get into MMA, the offers go up by both companies to sign the best athletes, and in the end fighters leave with better compensation.