There are way too many UFC events to keep track of these days. Some will disagree and call me out on not being a “true fan” but with television ratings and pay-per-view buy rates on the decline, the results speak for themselves. After looking at the totality of events from years past, the problem doesn’t simply lie in the number of events, but the lack of stars. I think the reason why there are so many UFC shows is because they’re hoping to create new stars.
[adinserter block=”1″]Until now, the UFC has always possessed a number of star attractions to attract an audience. Gracie, Shamrock, Severn, Abbott, and Coleman boosted the company during its inception to mythological proportions. During the dark ages, Ortiz, Randleman, Rizzo, and Miletich kept the company afloat. One reality show later and business boomed like never before. Hughes, Penn, Liddell, Couture, Griffin, Mir, Lesnar, GSP, and A. Silva became household names while fighters from Japan with fierce reputations such as Nogueria, W. Silva, Rampage, Shogun, and Cro Cop traded ring glory for caged grandeur.
Between then and now, the best fought the best. Some won, some lost, but they all got old, and throughout that process, the UFC failed to create new stars. Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones, Chris Weidman, Cain Velasquez, Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo are the current crop of main attractions. However, besides Ronda Rousey, they are all flawed in various ways. Velasquez has no personality and gets hurt too often to build any momentum. Edgar is the ultimate blood and guts warrior, but somehow, he doesn’t move the needle. Weidman needs more time in the spotlight before we can determine if he’s main event or bust. While dominant, Aldo has failed to execute at the legendary standards of his WEC days, which is how he’s marketed. Then there is Jones, who people tune in to see lose more than anything else and will stop watching his fights once that occurs. Not a very promising roster.
You don’t want to manufacture a new star because fans will see right through it and WWE’s modus operandi of creating them is out of the question. So, what’s a fight promotion to do? Hold as many events as possible and hopefully lighting will strike in a few different places. Within the next 30 days, the UFC will hold five cards with 50 fights announced so far. August 16th Fight Night headliner Ryan Bader vs. Ovince Saint Preux is hardly must see TV on a Saturday night. Still, if a spectacular performance emerges from the show, word of mouth will get everyone to rush to their DVR or visit their favorite website for the blow by blow results, but it’s not the same as getting excited for a show and witnessing everything as it unfolds. Along with bout mentioned above, the headline fights on these cards coming up are Lawler vs. Brown, Bisping vs. Le, Henderson vs. Dos Anjos, and Dillashaw vs. Barao II. That line up alone used to make up on one show. Now, we have to watch five whole shows in order to see them.
The UFC has changed their business model. The days of consistently stacked shows are over. A combination Boxing’s singular promotional presentation and MMA’s multiple highlights are now the norm. Like any change in direction after twenty years, there is an adjustment period. Some fans will get used to it, others won’t, and then you’ll have those who simply don’t care. Cub Swanson headlined a show four weeks ago with the promotional hook of him as the next contender for Jose Aldo’s featherweight title.
[adinserter block=”2″]Swanson won, and earned Fight of the Night honors in the process. Now, the UFC is promoting him while hoping that time has erased his brutal eight second loss at the hands of Aldo, five years ago. Maybe, the answer lies with Connor McGregor. The superstar reaction he received in his home country of Ireland was unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. With three wins inside the octagon, the hype train has left Dublin and heading full speed for Las Vegas, where the true litmus test will take place, on September 27th, in the form of Dustin Poirier. If McGregor can win and get over in the fight capital of the world, that will be proof that the UFC’s new business model can or perhaps is working.
[amazon_link id=”B00ER0QMLA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]UFC Ultimate Fight Collection 2013 DVD[/amazon_link]