UFC has peaked?! Preposterous!
A recent article by Gregg Doyel for CBS Sports online titled “UFC won’t tap out in fight for major sports status, but it has peaked” has incited quite a bit a controversy and rightfully so.
Mr. Doyel’s opinion of UFC as a sport is that it will remain a niche sport and that it has reached it’s peak.
(Apparently claiming that growth has been stagnant since 2009.) While it certainly can be argued that the PPV model is a bit of a hinderance for growth as a mainstream sport (not many people in this economy have $50 to spend per PPV event) the simple transition to more free/live events on networks like the upcoming Fox Sports 1 and current events on FX will literally open the flood gates for UFC.
A few other things may need to be modified for broader acceptance, i.e. the safety of the sport and the gore that can be exhibited with elbows to the head that cause massive bleeding. However, these matters can be easily addressed with slight changes to protocol (i.e. light elbow padding) in the same way it was addressed years ago when it was a bare fisted no holds barred event.
To even engage Doyel on his argument would be a futile effort since there is so much evidence to the contrary of his claims. So in short we are going to show just a few simple stats pulled from FaceBook. (Keep in mind Facebook as a measure of community interest and activity is an excellent bench mark, with it’s 1 billion strong user base no other single social or media network can compare.)
So, UFC has peaked and it will always remain a niche sport, never to compete with the likes of NBA and NFL? Let’s look at the numbers and see what they really show.
Below we have stats from today as of 1:26 PM PST on each of the FaceBook fan pages for three respective sports: NFL, NBA and UFC.
Taking a look at the numbers it’s pretty evident community activity with UFC is very strong. Over 10 million active fans and over 300 thousand active conversations. Compare that with NFL (the supposed staple of a mainstream sport). NFL has only 7 million fans and only just over 160 thousand active conversations. Considerably less than UFC. NBA has a larger community than both but consider that Basketball is less aggressive than both MMA and NFL. Thus it’s natural there would be more fans… However, look at the simple fact that one of the most aggressive and supposedly controversial sports (UFC) has over 10 million fans (3 million more than NFL) on Facebook…. that says quite a bit about potential growth. The fact is, what was mainstream is changing and evolving…. UFC is growing faster than any other “mainstream” sport. That fact is unavoidable…
Sure there are ups and downs with trends… Good days and bad…. However, the overall growth has been tremendous, and even in our small community at SciFighting we see an active, excited community who loves Mixed Martial Arts. We are happy to have our fans and we believe there is plenty of room for growth in MMA and UFC.
Also one final point… Mr. Doyel’s comment on Dana White “swallowing his misogynistic pride” and courting “the next big thing in MMA” (that being female bouts and endorsing Ronda Rousey) is completely and utterly out of line. Dana White is a business man, and a very good one at that However, he is a human being as well, as all of us are. UFC has gone through an evolution… At one time it seemed inappropriate to place women in a position to fight in a no holds barred competition… You can claim it is sexism, you can claim it is chivalry. However, the simple fact is that the fans weren’t ready for it and Dana White was wise to wait and watch the smaller fight promotions companies’ activities and ultimately timed the debut quite well.
At SciFighting we give Mr. White kudos for his foresight and his open mindedness. He has proven that he pays attention to the market and is willing to make changes to please the fans and broaden MMA/UFC’s horizons.
To Mr. Doyel… let’s just wait and see where things are a year or two from now. We have confidence that MMA is definitely on the upswing and we have yet to see it’s full potential!