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One Ring...ERRR...Cage To Rule Them All!!
I have always had a problem with monopolies. Stop...That’s not true. Monopolies are fine. I have a problem with quasi-monopolies. Monopolies that keep saying that they are not really monopolies, when they actually are. Enter Dana White and the UFC. Dana has the whole MMA on lock and in this case it’s a terrible thing. It is not about the quality of the product. Dana has a knack for giving the fans what they want. It is very rare that Dana gives us a weak card. The fights are competitive and I honestly believe the best fighters in the World are in the UFC. However, Dana makes the fights, decides who stays and who is fired, and how much the fighters are paid. You see? And that’s where I have the problem. For the amount of income generated, it seems that MMA fighters are grossly underpaid. Headlining pay per view fighters basically make about half a mil and the bottom feeders make 25 to 50k a fight.
This is the anti-thesis of what professional boxing is doing. In boxing it’s out of control in the other direction. Belts do not matter anymore, and the fighters make their own fights. If a fighter doesn’t want to fight someone, he just vacates the belt. HE is the draw, not the sanctioning body.In the UFC, the sanctioning body is the draw and the fighter is basically a piece of meat. Chuck Lidell and others have tried to speak on this and have generally been ignored. In the UFC, you are one brutal knockout away from having no say. I thought when Chuck Lidell was bitching about how little he was paid considering the revenue of his fights that was going to get Dana to address it. Then he got knocked out in 15 seconds by Rampage and the whole argument reset.
Now here is the part where the internet marks start talking about Strikeforce, Pride and King of the Cage….err…right. There is absolutely no one in league with the UFC and their dominance on the MMA field. Dana has all of the best fighters. He has a stranglehold on the whole thing. If you have good fighters in your promotion, Dana will just take them. If your fighter stays true and stays with you, bad stuff eventually happens (Sorry Strikeforce….Fedor is probably at the end of the road). We will not even get into how hard Dana was laughing when Fedor lost after turning down the King’s offer to come to the UFC.
So, if you haven’t fallen asleep yet, you’re probably wondering what is wrong with the current state of MMA? Well, since you asked, nothing. If you want MMA to be out of the fringes…threatening, but never quite getting into the mainstream, then keep King Dana running the show. However, if your goal is to grow the sport, Dana is going to have to come up off of some of those profits and give them to the fighters. This will entice more fighters to come and bring more interest. Now, because of the popularity of MMA with the youngsters, Dana may be able to grow the sport based on some cool factor.
Kids are growing up wanting to be rappers and MMA fighters these days. John “Bones” Jones is the first generation of MMA fighters who just did MMA. Not boxers or wrestlers that converted, but a guy that went into straight MMA. However, cool factor will only get you so far. Dana will get more fighters and more interest if he raises the pay and creates a board to select fights and rankings. He will have to relinquish some control, yes, and probably lose the authority to hire and fire individuals to the UFC. Now that more and more states are allowing sanctioning of MMA fights you are going to have more and more fighters in the mix. Dana must evolve if he truly wants to grow the sport.