The UFC is the biggest brand in mixed martial arts, with the best MMA fighters in the world.
From a business standpoint, the company does a lot of things right. Still, the UFC could learn from its sports entertainment counterpart, the WWE, which before the UFC, invented a successful genre and turned it into a billion-dollar enterprise.
The WWE has endured it all: success, scandals, rises, falls, and heavy public scrutiny.
These days, the WWE is such a well-oiled machine and television staple, it can survive any momentary lapse in ratings, public interest, or PPV buys. The UFC and WWE share some of the same audience. As the UFC continues its growth spurt, here are some things the UFC could learn from the WWE:
4. Market to Kids
You won’t find a lot of kids at live UFC events. That needs to change. The UFC fans who packed sports bars 5 years ago are getting older and will soon have spouses, many of whom most likely won’t want to spend Saturday nights watching UFC PPVs. The UFC must invest in kids and teens to build for future years. The WWE in the 1980s launched a kids cartoon, wrestling ice cream bars, and a slew of toys. The UFC needs to do the same and convince parents that MMA is safe, fun, and family friendly. A majority of the public still believes MMA is “cage fighting.” The UFC should want kids to walk around wearing Chris Weidman T-Shirts.
3. Allow Signs, Fan Interactivity At Live Events
One way to boost kid involvement is to make the events more fun. Yes, men and women are beating each other up inside the cage, but there’s no reason why the atmosphere needs to be for adults only. Let fans bring signs that say “Hendricks Won” or “Jones Fears Gustafsson.” UFC cameras can pan in to show those signs, which would spark conversation among the announcers. The UFC should also consider live interviews with fighters during its show. Why couldn’t Chris Weidman do a live interview inside the cage during last Saturday’s “The Ultimate Fighter.” The fans could roar and Weidman could get more camera time.
2. Embrace Its Legends Of The Past
There’s no reason UFC President Dana White should be at war with guys such as Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz. The UFC only stands to make lots of money by welcoming those legends. Pretty sure Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan don’t like each other very much. Still, McMahon is always eager to bring Hogan back if there’s a chance to make money. McMahon brought back guys who betrayed him: Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall all blasted McMahon at one point, but McMahon didn’t care. White needs to stop fighting these guys and bring them back under the UFC lights. He only stands to make more by selling their merchandise, and the UFC looks like the bigger, more professional entity.
1. Train Fighters In Interview Skills
Chael Sonnen has been knocked out in three of his last four fights, yet he’s one of the sport’s most exciting, high-profile names. Why? He can’t talk. Other fighters have great potential to make money if they can figure out to market their own brand. At the end of the day, the fans just want to be entertained. Why do Nick and Nate Diaz stand out? They say things that people remember. Fans will connect with fighters more if they feel like they know them and can relate to them. Fighters too often blow an opportunity to sell themselves or promote a fight. Look what Ronda Rousey did last week on the TUF finale. She had a great opportunity in front of millions of people to sell her fight and verbally rip Miesha Tate. Instead she ignored her, refused to acknowledge her, and missed a chance to create a moment.