This week there are two UFC fight cards in a span of four days. The world’s largest MMA organization is bringing the fans 24 live fights capped off with one between two potential UFC Hall of Famer, and yet the promotion doesn’t expect fans to pay a dime for any of it.

You would think that this would be somewhat of a dream weekend for the fans and even the MMA media, but the opinion is a lot more mixed than you might expect. Many fans and media members are complaining about the quality of the cards and saying that it is too much in too short of a span. To those people, I have but one piece of advice: just sit back, relax and enjoy the fights.

Yes, UFC Fight Nights 31 and 32 are not UFC 167 and UFC 168 on paper, but the company isn’t asking you to shell out 55 smack-a-roos for it. You won’t find me complaining about coming home on a Wednesday afternoon and being able to go on Facebook to watch some UFC-quality MMA. This isn’t just the hardcore fan in me talking. There is a ton of good business sense in the decision.

The number of fight cards is absolutely necessary. The UFC has a huge roster, and it needs to get these guys fights. Fans sometimes fail to remember that these are men and women that are trying to support their families. Not all of these fighters are making Jon Jones or Anderson Silva money. They might be making $10,000 or less to show. These guys are fighting, at the most, three to four times a year. Yes, there are chances at bonuses, but traditionally Zuffa doesn’t tend to hand those out to guys on the Facebook preliminary portion of the card.

If you do the math on how much money these guys are making, plus the money they are paying their coaching staff, they aren’t making a whole lot in one year’s time. Fans want the best fighters in the world inside the Octagon, and the UFC needs to have this many cards to get these guys fights and opportunities to make money. If the fight opportunities are reduced, what is stopping a guy from heading over to Bellator and entering a tournament with the shot of making a grand in two months’ time?

Fans already went nuts on Twitter when the company released fighters like Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami in order to trim the roster. It is a good possibility that if the UFC just ran an event or two a month, it wouldn’t have the space to bring a Strikeforce guy like Jorge Masvidal over or have an Ultimate Fighter reality show that brings in prospects like Michael Chiesa and Kelvin Gastelum. Simply put, if you want to have all of the best fighters in the world under one roof, there have to be enough cards so that all of those best guys can fight.

Having these cards on free television is also a great way to build stars and a fan base. It gets the younger fighters exposure and could bring in an entirely new audience. Johnny “Tough Guy” might not be amped to turn on Fox Sports at 5:30 p.m. to watch Dennis Bermudez and Steven Siler throw down. But what happens if Bobby “Middle Schooler” gets tired of cartoons and flips it on and sees an amazing fight? Right then, the UFC makes a fan for life. That is what the company needs to do. With these shows that creep into Wednesday afternoons, the promotion isn’t just building the next generation of fighters, it is also building the next generation of fans.

There is also the common complaint of “Why should I watch this? I don’t even know who any of these Brazilian guys are.” Well, what better way to become familiar with these fighters than to watch them fight? Zuffa is doing a good job of putting these Brazilian fight nights on free television. It gets these guys a showcase in an atmosphere that they are familiar with and doesn’t put a burden on fans to pay to see fighters that they’ve never previously seen in action. It also doesn’t hurt that the crowds down there are always amazing; that only helps in building these stars.

The two shows this week might not pull amazing ratings, but fans and media alike shouldn’t be discouraged. Not every single casual fan will watch these cards, but someone who isn’t even a fan might just turn it on and become hooked. Every one of those instances is worth even more than a pay-per-view buy.

In the end, there isn’t anything to complain about with there being a lot more free MMA. Fans don’t have to watch. However, if they choose to, it won’t cost them a dime. Tim Kennedy and Rafael Natal might not wet your whistle, but any pairing of these young guys could put on a classic. You don’t want to be that guy who has to hunt down the fight of the year on YouTube because you didn’t really want to see a particular main event.

Photo: Rafael Natal (L) attempts a spinning back fist (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.