P.T. Barnum was and still is a promotional and entertainment icon in addition to being one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his time. Barnum was a brilliant man and he has been credited with many great quotes, but one has always stuck with me: “Always leave them wanting more.” Those are words the UFC should take to heart.

I consider myself to be one of the most fervent and ravenous MMA fans out there, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t getting a little burnt out on the UFC. Year to date in 2014, the UFC has held 20 events. The promotion has another event doubleheader on Saturday, June 28, which will bring its six-month total to 22 events.

That is an insane number when you consider that just five short years ago, in 2009, the UFC held 20 events total for the entire year. The UFC has another 22 events currently scheduled for the second half of 2014, bringing the projected grand total of events to 44. That’s 11 more events than the UFC held in 2013.

The pace the UFC is on right now is simply amazing, but the overall quality of the product it is producing is down drastically. Fight cards continue to become less and less appealing to the casual fan base, and that has shown in pay-per-view buyrates and the live ratings.

On one hand, it is great to see that the sport has grown so much in popularity. On the other hand, the UFC has begun to outpace its stable of viable talent. In addition, the UFC has oversaturated the market by offering so many events that fans no longer need or even want to watch every show.

MMA’s long term success hinges on what the UFC, as the world’s largest promotion, is doing. Right now, what the promotion is doing is force-feeding fans. The UFC is already to the point where fans are not tuning in, and the more events the UFC continues to force down the pipe, the more fight fans will continue to look elsewhere.

The UFC needs to take a hard look at what it is offering the fans. Without those fans, there is no pay-per-view revenue, no network television deal, no merchandising and, eventually, no UFC. MMA is such a great sport, and the UFC is great at promoting and growing the sport. It would be sad to see MMA take a major hit because fans are tired of being told they are getting steak only to receive a hamburger.

The UFC used to be a special event. It was a night of fights that you could not afford to miss. That is what the UFC needs to get back to. Fans should be clamoring for the next show, not debating whether or not it will be worth their time and money.

We won’t speculate on the specific details of the UFC’s deal with Fox and the Fox family of networks, so there’s no telling how many events the UFC needs to hold each year to meet its contractual obligations. However, let’s suggest a target number of events that the UFC should aim to host each and every year. That number is 25.

Hosting 25 events a year would equate to 12 pay-per-views and 13 Fox/Fox Sports shows. That’s an average of two events a month with one special three-event month. At $50 a pop for pay-per-views, the UFC would still be asking the fans to shell out $600 a year to watch the sport, but because there would be fewer events to choose from and the fight cards would be stacked, fans would be more likely to buy all those shows.

Now, for simplicity’s sake, let say that UFC champions fight twice per year. That means that on the low end the UFC will promote 18 title fights every year. By only hosting 25 events, the UFC would only have seven events a year headlined by a non-title fight. That would also mean that every pay-per-view and every major Fox card would be headlined by a title fight. Fans love title fights.

There would be major drawbacks to hosting fewer events as well, though. Most notably, there would be a slower pace to the international expansion of the UFC brand. Fewer events equates to fewer opportunities to bring the UFC to international markets. But, then again, fewer events means better fight cards, which means more fan interest, so it would not be a total loss.

The UFC is walking a thin line right now between keeping fans interested and providing them with too much content. The promotion needs to always remember that in most cases less is more, and as P.T. Barnum said, “Always keep them wanting more.”

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.