Is the golden age of MMA over?

barnet_ufc_94_review_a

 

The simple answer is yes. It’s becoming hard to deny.

There are enough indications that it is. This is a heavily discussed topic in many MMA sites and forums right now for good reason. Most of the concerns are valid, some are ridiculous. But the complaining is at an all time high.

Here’s some of the common concerns you’l hear about the UFC:

1. The cards aren’t good! They are too diluted. I don’t look forward to seeing any cards except for 2 or 3 really good ones.

2. The fights suck! Too many point fighters, the scoring criteria is all wrong and fighters are taking advantage of it.

3. Where did my favorite fighters go? I don’t like Jones, bring back chuck. Rousey is too arrogant. Weidman is over-rated and lucky. Hendricks should not be champ. Cain is cool… i think! But I’ve forgotten what he looks like. (I disagree with most of these btw)

4. The PPV is too expensive, not enough value for money.

5. Lack of competition. Pride is gone! Strikeforce was nipped in the bud. And the monopoly is getting lazy.

It’s actually a much longer list because MMA fans love complaining. So let’s ignore the saying “the customer is always right” and defer to the wisdom of “MMA fans will always complain”.

 

Even if you ignore the chatter, you can’t ignore these numbers

UFC 169 – Barao vs Faber:                   230,000 PPV buys

UFC 170 – Rousey vs Mcmann:           340,000

UFC 171 – Hendricks vs Lawler:           300,000

UFC 172 – Jones vs Teixeira:                 350,000

 

And the latest one is rumored to be under 200,000. This year does not look good. It’s worth mentioning that UFC 168 – Silva vs Weidman 2 did more than 1 million buys. The only other card that even did more than 650k buys in 2013 was GSP vs Diaz. Which supports the theory of only 1 or 2 really good cards a year.

GSP and Silva might not come back at all. So who is going to bring those million dollar PPV numbers?

As a contrast to the numbers above. The average PPV buy in 2010 was 561,ooo!! And one of these cards was Mir vs Crocop. Remember that? Yea neither do I. Yet it didn’t make a dent because you had Lesnar, GSP, Penn, Silva, Evans, Machida, Shogun giving consistently strong numbers.

So what’s going on?

Well you might have reached the same conclusion as me. In MMA it’s the fighters who create interest. We aren’t cheering for our favorite club or team or something else (Just bleed!!). We’re cheering for our favorite fighters, close fights, and of course great rivalries. Like Silva vs Weidman 2, which doubled the numbers of the first fight.

(Speaking of rematches. Jones vs Gustaffson 2 is going to be very interesting, i expect at least double the sales of the first one)

Enough about the numbers, you get the idea. UFC is running out of true fan-favorite fighters. Now there isn’t really a blue print to creating fan favorites. You could have a humble, professional, calculated fighter like GSP. A no nonsense i-just-want-to-punch-your-face guy like chuck liddell. Or someone who comes into the sport with  millions of fans already following him (3 guesses) It can be anything really.

But it is the promoter’s job to use what the fighter has and show it to the fans. Just putting them on cards is not enough anymore. There are so many fighters, divisions and events happening now, the individual fighters get lost in the noise. Don’t just leave them on their own to try and carve out an image. Not every fighter can be a chael sonnen outside the cage.

The perfect example is the current HW Champ.

Cain Velasquez vs Antonio Silva

I’m assuming you have heard of Cain Velasquez. What kind of image would you say the champ has, compared to guys like GSP, Fedor, Lesnar, BJ Penn, Liddell? I know that he is an amazing fighter with a mexican heritage. What else?

This is the baddest guy in all of MMA right now. But he hardly gets any hype, we know very little about him. Compare that to what boxing has done with Canelo Alvarez and it’s like you’re looking at the next legend of combat sport vs an unknown local fighter. UFC should be marketing this guy like crazy!

So he’s not a talker? It doesn’t matter. Guys like Liddell, Silva and Fedor weren’t talkers either. Cain has a unique personality among fighters, and he’s real. When he steps in the cage it’s always with bad intentions. That’s a great recipe for a fan favorite. Yet i have seen hardly anything from UFC in terms of creating a brand for him. His teammate cormier does a better job promoting him in his own post-fight interviews.

There are dozens of other fighters in the UFC (and outside) that are ripe for the picking. But these guys only know how to fight. The promotion needs to step it’s game up and do it’s job!

So yes the golden age of MMA is over, but a new golden age could be around the corner. I fully expect a resurgence in the coming years. MMA is an amazing sport and the UFC has done a great job of bringing it to the front door. Now there needs to be a change of strategy and a new model if MMA wants to keep growing (or stop declining).

Why MMA is not human cockfighting

 

Cock guy

Too much cock!

 

That famous quote by John mccain. Yes i know, i’m starting out with some low hanging fruit. If you are already a fan of MMA you probably don’t need to read this. But in case you are someone from “the other side” i want to present my case.

So the first question is, what’s wrong with this comparison? Let’s see.

Human: that part makes sense, humans are involved.

Fighting: perfect! Probably the best word you could use to describe it. Had it ended there, i’d nod my head and keep walking. It is human fighting.

But the addition of one word changes the meaning completely, “cock”. A word that will rarely go unnoticed, wherever you may put it. Not a bad word either, but in this context it just sounds dirty!

The imagery these words induce in the mind is of a group of morally questionable men gathered around in a hidden underground location, packed in a tight circle around a couple of cocks duking it out. It is brutal, bloody and… I don’t know I’ve never seen it i’m just going with it. To be honest, i don’t know a lot about actual cockfighting. For all i know they could be similar. But instead of doing any research, i’m going to take the lazy approach and just use that image in my head to make the comparisons.

So what makes MMA different? 

1. They have some rules in place. No eye gouging, no low blows, no small joint manipulation. You wear protection for your sensitive bits. There’s a referee in there making sure that fighters are relatively safe. When someone is in real trouble, that’s when the fight gets stopped. So it is a little less brutal than you may have originally thought.

2. Often you have fights where no one really gets hurt. How is that possible? You’d be surprised. Among the hardcore fans this is what’s known as a “boring” fight. It’s when both guys are simultaneously trying to do something and not having anything get done to them, with more emphasis on the latter part. In a way, you could say they are both successful at not having anything done to them. There are variations of this technique, one somewhat acceptable variation is called “elusive”. Some fans will actually fawn over it.

3. There’s points! That’s right. You can win the fight by points. And once again, you can score points without actually hurting your opponent. A lot of fighters just want to score the most points they can and win the fight. And then a group of judges decide who got the most points. Pretty simple really. Unless your names starts with a C and has the word “people” in it.

4. It’s a choice. The fighters do this willingly, they consider the risks involved and make their own decisions. No one is forcing them or manipulating them. One of the more common ways of ending the fight is by “tapping out” that is willingly accepting a loss when you feel like you’re in a tight spot and can’t get out.

5. They don’t have very sharp edges on their bodies. This, i believe, is the biggest difference. Human fighters don’t have beaks or claws. They have their fingers, knees and elbows, but really there’s no comparison. I may not have seen cock fighting but i know what i beak feels like. Much worse than a finger, trust me.

I think I’ve made my point. Unless we see these changes implemented in the cockfighting game i think it’s safe to say the two are very different. Until the day i see cocks wearing cups for protection, i will not entertain this ridiculous claim anymore.