By Lance LeVan
In the past few years several popular fighters have retired from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. I don’t mean “popular” like they were well-known in the mixed martial arts community. I mean, these fighters were considered household names.
Soccer moms and businessmen knew who they were and wanted to see them fight. There was Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Forrest Griffin, and the list goes on and on. These huge names equated to huge pay-per-view numbers for the UFC fights.
Currently, there only are one or two of these big name UFC fighters and they can only fight once or twice a year…if that. So…how are Dana White and the UFC going to keep themselves growing and gaining more of a fan-base?
From what I have seen and read, White is going to try two things. First, he is putting out several monthly PPV events (there used to only be one or two). Along with that, they are broadcasting several “Fight Nights” and several “FOX Sports” events per month that will be free for viewers.
This year alone, there have been several months when there is a UFC event every weekend of the month, with some Saturdays having two events on the same day. In my opinion, White and the UFC are not trying to cater to the hard-core UFC/MMA fans when they do this. They are trying to gain new fans, people who have never seen the UFC or MMA. They are doing this in the hopes that once a new viewer sees the current production and the mainstream feel the UFC has become, they will be intrigued and want to watch again and again. I call this the “shotgun effect.” They blast out as many events as they can…and if they get a larger percentage of the viewers hooked on watching…AWESOME!!!
Secondly, the UFC is considering bringing back some big-name, retired fighters to headline a few PPV events. Some names that have been brought up are Brock Lesnar, Gina Carano, Couture and Liddell. In my honest opinion, this is a huge mistake not only for the UFC but also for the fighters. My point is this: how many retired fighters are we going to bring back, hoping they will boost PPV numbers on their name alone?
If one of the boxing federations brought back Sugar Ray Leonard or Mike Tyson to fight a current fighter in his prime, there is no way this writer would pay to see that. That’s an insult to the fans of the sport. And it’s actually kind of cruel. The retired fighter goes in there and gets the shit beat out of him for a few rounds. And for what…a paycheck? If the UFC would have put some thought into marketing all of these new fighters four or five years ago when all of their big names were still fighting…they wouldn’t have the problems they are having with their current PPV revenues.
White and the UFC better seriously think about the future of their company and try to do a better job marketing in the next few years or they may see their fighters and their viewers looking for other MMA companies to entertain them.