In 2011 the news broke that the UFC had finally signed a deal with a major media outlet, Fox . The deal would bring the UFC into homes via Fox, FX, Fuel, and later Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. “Hard-Core” MMA fans had been waiting for main stream recognition ,and at last it had arrived. The acceptance by the executives and the proof of the fan base had finally come together to form the alliance that we now have between Fox and The Ultimate Fighting Championship. The future was bright and there was only one place that things could go from that point forward, and it was up.

Though the UFC is but only one of the many promotions within the sport of mixed martial arts, it is no doubt the largest. Often times within the sport certain athletes are so dominant, it seems that they are untouchable. The top ten in every division are without question world class athletes, but the few that become champions are on another level that is distant from all of there competitors. The same is true amongst the promotions and the UFC is the reigning, defending, undefeated champion of the business world of MMA. Now with the backing of a major network, it seemed nothing could stop them from further elevating their brand, product, and the sport as a whole.

For years, the UFC had been having tremendous success and incomparable growth, but the Fox deal changed things almost overnight. Many that had followed the sport for years expressed joy at first. After all, their beloved sport was being accepted in a way it had never been. Yet, just like a band that you follow from the underground scene to a record deal some fans began to show signs of distaste for what the UFC product was transforming into. So much of the UFC’s success had been based upon their ability to build up a fight. Having a fight once a month, or even once every three weeks provided the UFC ample time to build up their cards and evenly distribute their roster. Now, with the demands of more shows due to the Fox deal, the landscape has changed and the shows began to come almost weekly.

The fans weren’t the only ones expressing their distaste for the change. The MMA media too, began to voice concerns around the quality of the fight cards due to the amount of shows that the UFC had to maintain due to their deal with Fox. Another contributing factor is the UFC’s goal of being a truly global product. Putting on shows in markets that they are developing from the ground up such as China, Sweden, and Mexico, the roster began to have fighters that simply wouldn’t have made it into the UFC if it wasn’t for the UFC’s goal of building local superstars. This also lead to the web based UFC subscription “UFC Fight Pass” which allows the UFC to put on shows in obscure markets without concerns of pay-per-view numbers or television ratings.

So, here we are in present day with a UFC event nearly every weekend. It seems as though the UFC is getting better at distributing the roster to create cards that don’t lead to fans and media members shrieking quite as loudly. Not only are they distributing the athletes amongst the cards more appropriately, but they are also choosing the platform of broadcast better. Overall, the UFC still has the best fighters of any promotion bar none, but the product has changed significantly and it’s yet to be seen where it ends up. Instead of having every event being something to gather your friends together for, sometimes it’s ok to watch it the next day. Instead of every event being something you think about for months, you don’t always know what’s coming up next weekend. It’s a big difference in how the sport has been consumed in the past versus how it is consumed today.

We find ourselves in mid October 2014, and for the first time in a long time we just had a weekend without a single UFC event. In recent weeks and months we have had double headers and pay-per-views galore. At first it seems, what is a fan to do? Then you quickly realize you can pay attention to the other great promotions. and the major media sources reflected this with headlines that were not grounded in the UFC. This is good for the smaller promotions, but also for the sport. Not only that, when looking ahead the next UFC event is UFC 179, which is headlined by Aldo and Mendes on October 25th. It feels like an eternity to wait for a great fight, but it’s only three weeks between this fight and the last event. Fans and media will be salivating come fight week and that’s good for the UFC.

So, overall more people know about the sport and the UFC, both domestically and internationally. Fans may not like the quality of some of the smaller cards, and the media may not like having to cover so many events, but it’s overall a good thing. There will be bumps in the road and the UFC will have to adapt, but due to prowess of the executives at Zuffa, LLC (proprietor of the UFC) the growth seems to remain exponential. No one knows where the sport will end up in the future, but it may be wise to have a little faith in the organization that has taken a sport that was illegal in the United States 20 years ago and turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry with global reach.

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.