WWE, TNA and other wrestling entertainment promotions are for kids. UFC is the real deal to the die hard MMA fans like us. Ultimate Championship wrestling has been operating in the business since early 90’s. The octagon provided extreme adrenaline rush for fighters and spectators. Bulky as well as lanky men set foot on the ring without tops. Most of them didn’t need the luxury of shoes. Music and video games inspired by the UFC theme enjoyed huge popularity.
Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva and Chuck Liddell were amongst the ambassadors of this MMA promotion:
UFC is still the largest and most celebrated MMA brand in the world. Even till 2016, one of its banner years, they didn’t need to worry about ratings. It was by this time Lorenzo Fertitta jumped ship by selling UFC to WME-IMG for $4billion, the largest sports acquisition at that time. The acquisition heavily favored Fertitta, but did it go well with the fighters and the world’s biggest MMA brand? Unfortunately popularity of this brand is on the decline. In this post we discuss why has the UFC gone down in popularity in recent years?
Too many titles and events:
This has been the regular complaint for several years now. UFC keeps creating interim titles which don’t hold much gravitas. Ticket sales haven’t taken a hit for these events. However fans don’t feel these events as anything special. The die hard fans are leaving their favorite MMA brand. The flagship events have lost the value they once had.
Tough match-ups that don’t reward the fighters
Though there are too many title events happening in the UFC, they don’t make mush sense. A lot of good fighters do not fight for the top titles. When fighters fight the best in the world and don’t smell a chance of getting near their desired something, something is wrong with modus operandi of WME-IMG. The heavy sum they company paid to buy UFC is possibly making them more desperate.
The Floyd Mayweather factor
It was thought the Mayweather – McGregor fight would bring more attention to MMA fighting. It will open up the sport to whole new demographic. Though the opinions are true, the Mayweather – Gregor fight is not solely a UFC promotion. Mayweather’s partner Showtime Sports holds most part of this event venture, thereby taking lion’s share in the revenues. This dents the very strategy of UFC’s new owners too, who is trying to make money by compromising on inherent quality of the MMA brand.
Champs are not defending titles
Champs including Conor McGregor, Michael Bisping and Amanda Nunes are not defending their titles anymore. UFC is overcompensating by creating interim titles that gives legit headliners for events. Till now, that practice hasn’t translated well with audiences. The expected comebacks of Nick Diaz or Anderson Silva is still uncertain too. UFC is in scarce of big names or titles to promote their events.
WME-IMG cashing in on UFC setup, more of a sell out.
One of the talking points is Luke Rockhold’s sentiments of lack of main title matches. He pointed out the Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre match-up for middleweight title in particular. He feels if Bisping ever agrees to fight, he is potentially holding up on the title for up to two years. WME-IMG desperately wants to get bang for their buck on UFC investment. In the process they are denting the careers of fighters who worked hard all their way up.
Too much attention for their top stars
When it comes to their star athletes, UFC seldom do healthy rounded promotions. In 2015-16, their lucrative period, there rode on dominant runs of McGregor and Rousey. Once Rouse started losing title fights since UFC 193, it didn’t go well for UFC. Now it looks like curtains for Rousey’s career. McGregor doesn’t seem to come out of Mayweather fights which earns several millions for him.
Unreasonable treatment of athletes
Lorenzo Fertitta believed UFC transferred to the right hands. He said WME-IMG “share the same vision and passion for this organization and its athletes.” It is somewhat true considering the previous owners too followed ruthless business practices. Injuries have haunted the MMA brand historically. The pay for athletes isn’t great either. It explains why the fighters have left for the rival, Bellator MMA in recent times. WME-IMG’s approach of generating revenue on their $4 billion acquisition doesn’t include proper treatment of UFC MMA fighters.