There are simply too many UFC events these days.
So far, the UFC has put on eight pay-per views from the beginning of the year to July 21 and has five more planned through November. That’s 13 total, and quite frankly, that’s too many. And if you look at how many total events the UFC has held in 2012 compared to how many weeks have passed, the UFC is averaging an event every week and a half. In total, the company has produced 19 events in a 29-week period. Mind-blowing, eh?
This story’s been told a million times and though it’s similar to beating a dead horse, it doesn’t make it any less true. Before MMA became a mainstream sport, there was a time when the company held one pay-per-view event a month at the most, and the excitement and build-up made every event special.
Rarely do you have that these days, but that’s not the worst part about having so many fight cards a year. Oh no, the worst part is having events such as UFC 149. What a stinker that was. The reality is that the company is producing so many cards that if injuries occur, it’s unable to provide a stacked card like it used to. Why?
Well, the UFC has more priorities than just pay-per-view these days. Building a new fanbase on Fox and FX is just as important, and that requires star power such as Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Nate Diaz, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen. But hey, this is not a complaint for getting to see those fighters fight for free.
Rather, it’s a complaint for spending $55 on a card that has Tim Boetsch in the co-main event. But that’s the nature of the sport now. Some fight cards are going to suffer from injuries and be mediocre at best. But how can the UFC avoid this reoccurring problem? And will the UFC move forward with 16 total pay-per-views in 2013? Well, the UFC already had to move one of its pay-per-views from Montreal on March 24 because it was lacking “star power.” The event would later be moved to April in Atlanta, where Jon Jones defended his light heavyweight championship against Rashad Evans.
It’s no secret that the injury bug has had a tremendous impact on this year for the UFC, and it has caused the promotion to scale it back a bit. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the UFC shouldn’t have so many pay-per-view events. Maybe, just maybe, the buyrates would go up if the UFC goes back to the way things were with one pay-per-view event a month. Hey, it’s just a thought.
But if the UFC plans on expanding and having so many pay-per-view events, it’s going to have to create depth in the flyweight division, absorb Strikeforce and create a woman’s division. With so many fights scheduled, the promotion will have to rely on its lighter weight divisions to carry fight cards. The flyweights bring it every time and if the UFC uses Fox to promote these spectacular athletes, their popularity will grow and they should be able to headline pay-per-view cards with no problem, due to the excitement level they bring.
Creating depth might be an issue at first, but as this weight class gets more attention, the talent will prosper. But here’s something that’s baffling: the UFC held the semi-final bouts in the flyweight tournament on FX, so it would have made sense to put the final on Fox. The UFC had different ideas obviously, as Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez will fight for the title at UFC 152. Nonetheless, future cards will have to be headlined by lighter weight classes as the demand for events continue to increase with fights on Fox, FX, Fuel and PPV.
That’s a good reason to merge Strikeforce with the UFC. Let’s face it—fighters are in high demand now, and Strikeforce still has some big-name guys in Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, Nate Marquardt and Luke Rockhold that would prove to be exciting additions to the UFC’s weight classes.
As the UFC adds Strikeforce fighters to its roster, it might as well take in the women’s divisions as well. If Invicta FC 2 taught MMA fans anything, it was that there are plenty of impressive female fighters in MMA. And Strikeforce Champion Ronda Rousey has proven her worth on Showtime. Her fight against Miesha Tate drew an average audience of 431,000, so it’s likely she would do well on pay-per-view.
So, though the problems that exist from holding so many events a year is self-inflicted, the UFC has the resources to overcome them. Now it’s just a matter of using those resources.
Photo: Ryan Jimmo celebrates his win at UFC 149 (James Law/Heavy MMA)