When an MMA event (typically, UFC, given it’s the ‘big dog’ in the yard, so to speak) comes around, I generally gather with a few friends and we eat, drink and enjoy the legal violence.
But the UFC just held three shows in eight days. One on Fight Pass, one on Fox Sports 1 and the last one on Fox, and there will be a pay-per-view next Saturday night.
Here’s what Dave Meltzer had to say about Saturday night’s event:
“That UFC number last night is concerning. The reality is they only have a limited number of stars. It was a card insiders were lauding because of the hard to predict matchups, and generally strong quality. But the average sports fan is losing interest except for the few big shows a year. There are a lot of issues involved. The business model is about providing as much content as possible. But the appeal in the U.S. is not going in a positive direction.”
Most of my friends aren’t hardcore fans like yours truly, save one or two. Hell, I only watched Saturday night’s UFC with my de facto brother/lifelong best friend, and that was it, and that was probably because we generally imbibe and have pseudo-intellectual conversations (read: not really, it’s likely just inebriated bloviating, but everything sounds like a well thought out discussion while on the sauce, y’know?), and (too many damn ‘ands’ — my bad) he just enjoys hanging out and watching the fights because we don’t get to hang out too often given our respective commitments and responsibilities in life.
To me, Saturday night’s event was tantamount to an f-wording awesome pay-per-view card. Yoel Romero and Brad Tavares? Check. Donald Cerrone and Edson Barboza? Check! A thrilling one round fight! Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche, two former women’s Bantamweight title contenders? Check. Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum duking it out to see who would challenge UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez? Check.
But to the casual viewer’s eye, nothing about the card excited them, because they know… nobody! No big names. Meltzer has a point.
Somebody said that it was because it was going against playoff games from other sports (and, also, Bernard Hopkins fought last night over in the boxing realm and became the oldest fighter (49 years of age) in boxing history to unify titles). But I beg to differ, because the UFC has faced stiffer competition in the past from team sports’ leagues and have succeeded, depending on who was fighting on those nights.
The UFC is oversaturating the shit out of the product by holding 5-6 events per month. And like pro wrestling (yes — pro wrestling) has taught time and time again, you don’t feel the effects until it’s too late. The UFC is sacrificing American business for international expansion. Maybe it will prove more profitable long-term, but I have my doubts.
However, I will say this, if Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey (two polarizing fighters; ‘villains’ in the sport) and Cain Velasquez (a dominant heavyweight champion) continue winning their fights, all will be good. I’d like to say the same about two fighters I love watching, Jose Aldo and Renan Barao (guys that haven’t lost a fight since 2005), but given how they are the kings of their respective weight classes (Featherweight and Bantamweight), lower weight classes that were only introduced in the UFC in just 2010, I doubt that will ring true if I had the gall to say such a thing.
Brock Lesnar left in December 2011, Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva twice in 2013 and now Silva’s out after that gnarly leg break last December, and Georges St.-Pierre — the last ‘big’ draw — is retired and on leave from fighting after his controversial bout with Johny Hendricks in November.
The UFC would do good to stack their events with bigger names to lure in casual fans. Less cards, yes, but more compelling matchups that would most definitely entice the casual fans of combat sports. But hey, what do I know?