For years I have been one of the people who have been saying Mixed Martial Arts needs more than just the UFC to take that proverbial next step.
However, as the biggest night in the sports history nears, I find myself reconsidering my position on this subject and asking, “Does MMA really need anything other than the UFC to prosper?”
It has been my argument for many years that more organizations providing competition with the UFC the better it will make the sport overall. But if you look at the history of sports, that’s not necessarily the case.
What competition does the NFL have? The NBA? MLB? Golf, tennis and NASCAR – with a couple of minor exceptions here and there – have all of its stars competing under one major organization.
None of those sports appear to be struggling from the lack of “competition.” As a matter of fact, having all of their best competing against each other has helped those sports thrive into the huge sensations they’ve all become in this country.
Now let’s move to boxing. OK, what killed boxing more than anything besides the corruption in the sport? It was all of the different promotions creating 100 different championship belts, therefore making it almost impossible for the top fighters to compete against each other. Does the name Fedor ring a bell?
So would it really matter if we only had the UFC? When a top fighter like Fedor, Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, etc is fighting for another promotion, what are MMA fans always saying? “I hope he signs with the UFC soon.” So, as far as fans go, wouldn’t it be better for us if all the great fighters were under one promotion to begin with?
Now, obviously this argument is more complex. Tito Ortiz and others would argue that this would hurt options for the already underpaid fighters. That maybe true but I’m looking at this purely from a fan’s perspective and from that point, perhaps the Strikeforces and Afflictions of the world are just watering down the sport.
If you ask me, I would much rather see their top fighters in the UFC, watch the best fight the best and be done with it. Seriously, what are we really accomplishing by having Fedor in Affliction and Nick Diaz in Strikeforce?
Like I said, this is a recent change in philosophy for me that happened when I was thinking about the new UFL football league. I have worked in the NFL and covered both college and pro football. Nothing will ever compete with either sport, so even trying is futile.
That scenario shifted my thinking to the UFC and how the company is celebrating the historic UFC 100. Strikeforce is a nice little promotion. Affliction has Fedor and a solid heavyweight division. But aren’t these guys just delaying the inevitable?
The UFC has become a giant and in my opinion taking them on in the world of MMA is becoming almost as much a losing proposition as other football leagues challenging the NFL.
Perhaps it’s time for others to step back and let the survival of the fittest take its course. Let the UFC have all the best talent and give the fans the best fights between the best fighters in the world. Instead of having a few different promotions, let the UFC become the NFL of Mixed Martial Arts. Would that be such a bad idea?
One final point I want to make clear. I am not suggesting we do away with regional MMA and things of that nature, just like I wouldn’t suggest getting rid of Arena Football. I am talking about any promotion in direct competition with the UFC. Regional MMA is an asset because it’s a tool to help young fighters get experience and become good enough to someday fight in the UFC.
In my opinion, promotions like Strikeforce are fighting a losing battle. They may stick around for a few years but in the end, they simply don’t have the money or the resources to compete with the UFC. All they are really doing is paying a couple of fighters above market value to keep them away from Dana White.
So as the UFC approaches its 100th event, I would like to hear your feedback on this topic. Do you feel MMA needs multiple promotions like I did for years or do you feel the UFC can survive as one power league like the NFL or NBA?
When we hit UFC 200, where do you think the sport of Mixed Martial Arts will be at that time?
I’m starting to think when people refer to Mixed Martial Arts as “UFC,” they really aren’t as misinformed as I once thought they were.