For years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has dominated the mixed martial arts scene.
That’s because the UFC is primarily responsible for the ever-increasing popularity of MMA, the fastest growing sport in the world.
However, despite all the success the Ultimate Fighting Championship has enjoyed over the years, its status as the premier mixed martial arts organization on the planet is far from secure.
The list of problems is long, and if the promotion’s brass continues to ignore them, it very well might lead to the demise of the organization, and, perhaps even, the budding sport of MMA.
Exodus of the Stars
Like all other sports organizations, the UFC depends on its biggest superstars to draw in new fans. Unfortunately for them, they’ve lost a couple in the past three months. Georges St. Pierre announced he’d be taking a break from MMA after his UFC 167 showdown with Johny Hendricks, and a horrific leg injury sent the most dominant champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history, Anderson Silva, to the sidelines indefinitely.
With their two biggest stars out of the picture for the near future, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the UFC’s brass to justify their pay-per-view prices.
For now, they can always spice things up when necessary with super-fights like: Jon Jones vs. Cain Velasquez, Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis, and, hopefully at some point in the future, Ronda Rousey vs. Christine “Cyborg” Justino.
If that doesn’t work, they can always copy Bellator’s tournament format which often leads to entertaining matchups.
Inconsistent Product Quality
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has had its share of underperforming fight cards recently. First, at UFC 169, a new record was set for the most decisions at an event in the promotion’s history with 10 decisions and two finishes. Then, the new record was tied two weeks later at UFC Fight Night 36.
The fact both fight cards had their share of questionable referee calls and judges’ scorecards didn’t make things more enjoyable for fans.
It’s not that surprising many were hesitant to purchase the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most recent pay-per-view, UFC 170, leading to dismal sales — approximately 300-400,000 buys — despite the fact it was headlined by the promotion’s biggest star (at least according to Dana White), Ronda Rousey. That’s a long way from the 1.1 million pay-per-view buys the UFC 168 card brought in to close out 2013.
Military Dictatorship Style Leadership
Another serious issue that needs to be addressed is the brash leadership style of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s high-ranking officials, particularly its current president, Dana White.
Sure, White has been instrumental in the rapid growth of the UFC, but he’s far from what one would expect in a CEO of a company striving to achieve mainstream status.
He curses like a sailor, he’s often hostile towards the MMA media, and he doesn’t seem to have much respect for, even, his top superstars.
When Anderson Silva failed to put on a show during his UFC 112 tilt with Demian Maia, White was right there to shame him.
When Jon Jones refused to take a fight on eight days’ notice, White was right there to throw “Bones” under the bus.
When Georges St. Pierre announced he’d be taking a break from MMA, the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw was publicly chastised.
Why would any gifted young athlete want to be part of an organization that continues to treat its biggest superstars like disposable commodities who are undeserving of any form of respect?
That reality will continue to hinder the UFC’s ability to attract tomorrow’s superstars.
Clearly, the UFC will need to address some major issues if it wants to hold on to its status as the leading MMA organization in the world. With smaller promotions like Bellator (who recently almost pried the second-ranked lightweight in the world, Gilbert Melendez, away from the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s grasps) constantly pushing to knock the UFC of its pedestal, the window of opportunity to address these issues continues to shrink.