UFC 177’s mishmash of a card actually ended up providing some “unexpected” entertainment after a series of mishaps left the promotion with few options to provide an attraction to replace the main event drop out (Renan Barao). While Dillashaw vs Soto did prove to be entertaining and engaging, the odds on the betting tables were telling a story that this would hardly be worth the bother. Even though the odds did hold up and Dillashaw retained his title, things could have gone very differently.
When you go to place a bet on a fight it’s a given assumption that you’re gonna risk something to gain something. It’s really the nature of the beast. But when you’re guaranteed entertainment and it’s only a stroke of luck that actually helps a promotion keep their promise then perhaps too much is being risked vs the possible reward to be gained. Let’s put it another way. How many people went ahead and took the chance on 177 being worth the 50 -60 USD PPV admission? Not to mention those who might have been inclined to attend in person and pay whatever the gate fee was for that event.
If the UFC was successful with 177, it was pure luck. If Soto were a true contender for the title, then why wasn’t he immediately given a shot at it in the first place? Or at minimum, why not give him a shot at a fight on the main card versus the undercard (which is where he was originally scheduled to appear). No, this doesn’t sound like prudent planning or assured success but rather last minute moves to scramble to fix an event that was almost doomed to fall flat on it’s face. That all being said, yes the UFC did put on a good show and people were pleasantly surprised. But then what’s the real take away? Is this accidental success supposed to reassure fans that they will always be entertained by every PPV the UFC puts together? Perhaps, and perhaps it is indeed exactly what fans took away from the experience. But for the UFC, the lesson should be to seriously evaluate their match making and start creating matches that people care about throughout the entire event. You can’t continue to hang your hat on a single main event and expect all the stars to continually align every time in order to assure a PPV buy in.
This might all be mute if it was on regular cable, or even prime time TV. But that’s not the world we live in. Or is it?
Now that you mention it, there is a promotion that comes to mind that has their events broadcast on cable tv with no PPV fees. They don’t over promise but seem to deliver a pretty decent lineup of fights. What ever the UFC would have you believe. The fact is Joe Soto fought and lost in Bellator before he went on to fight and lose in the UFC. Not exactly what we would consider the “best” MMA promotion skimming cream of the crop. Oh and what about Ben Askren? He seems to be pretty content over at One FC, but the UFC didn’t want Bellator’s top Welterweight fighter. Why?
Lots of people (promotion executives included) have claimed that Askren was a one dimensional fighter. That he just didn’t bring enough excitement into the cage. Well that’s an odd argument, considering his “one dimensional” wrestling base was pretty consistent with another top tier Welterweight that the UFC backed for years. That’s right, Georges St. Pierre!
Oh and let’s not forget Ronda Rousey. Amazing as she may be at talking up a huge storm of support for herself and the UFC at press events. The fact is, she is still a very one dimensional fighter. She continually wins every bout with the same move, over and over and over again. Why aren’t people complaining about that? Perhaps because it’s just more about internal politics than it is about bringing entertainment and a cast of characters you care about into the living room.
Again, enter Bellator. And why should you be looking at Bellator now? They’ve had over 120 opportunities to impress and to many they just haven’t delivered enough to draw them away from the allure of the UFC.
Well, first off, times have changed. The PPV model is starting to take it’s toll. In fact, instead of lowering the price of the PPV events as supposed popularity of MMA has spread, the price has gone up. Then instead of providing some free access to preliminary cards through Facebook or UFC’s old model, now they require a Fight Pass subscription to make you pay even more for what they were once giving away. This is a counter intuitive model to grow your business. Then when you pair that with inconsistent and unreliable cards, then you’ve got a real recipe for disaster.
So why should you care about Bellator now? Well for one it’s under “new” management. And that management knows how to bring about events and recruit talent that can compete with the UFC. Remember Srikeforce? Yes that’s the same management we are talking about. Look at the top fighters in the UFC today. Where did many of them come from? Strikeforce. That’s right, we aren’t kidding. Have a look for yourself!
- Dan Henderson
- Daniel Cormier
- Gilbert Melendez
- Ronda Rousey
- (yes the ink wasn’t even dry on the contract before the UFC snatched up Strikeforce and began integrating their talent into the official UFC ranks)
- Miesha Tate
- Liz Carmouche
- Gegard Mousasi
- Nick Diaz
- Cristian Santos
- Although not yet signed, she’s just begging the UFC to give her a shot at Rousey.
- Jake Shields
- Cung Le
- Tarek Saffiedine
Where would the UFC be without these names today? And who was the promoter that brought all this talent together in the first place? None other than Scott Coker. The new president of Bellator. Just 60 some odd days into his job there and the professional MMA community is buzzing with excitement about the prospects he could bring to the table. But it’s not just about Coker as the new president it’s also about Spike TV, MTV Networks and the whole Viacom powerhouse.
Bellator is the only promotion that is wholly owned by a broadcast network and something tells us that they are fully committed to the property. Don’t even think about the prospects of a sale to UFC because that (according to our sources) couldn’t be farther from the plan for the promotion. With the production efforts of an entire television network established purely for the likes of you, me and everyone else who loves what we love you have to think they just might have what it takes to put together a story that not only continues past and through the events that will be put on by Bellator but they also have the potential budget from their parent entities to be able to recruit the funding necessary to lock in the top talent.
Things are about to get a lot more competitive in the world of MMA and if the UFC is keeping their eyes open they might wanna take a second look at those cards and then take an even harder look at why they matter and what makes the audience care about the fighters on them. Bellator and Spike have had the ingredients and now the finally have a chef that very well could deliver success just as he did before in Strikeforce.
So to all you Bellator nay sayers out there who also complain about the UFC’s recent missteps. Keep your eyes peeled. The games, really are, just about to begin!