Following a tough year for business in 2014 for the UFC, it appeared as though they were taking steps to rectify the issues that plagued them.

In the first quarter of 2015 they faced significant amounts of diversity, but they were able to keep some very good events in place through it all. The majority of the problems in the first quarter of the year came after the fact. Jon Jones’ failed pre-fight drug test did them no favors, and then both Nick Diaz and Anderson Silva failed their own drug tests. It drew a lot of negative publicity, and removed Diaz and Silva from any potential short term fights that they had planned. Yet, they were still able to draw good pay-per-view numbers for the respective events.

Just one month into quarter two, the UFC is facing some bigger issues already. UFC 186 went from a great Pay-per-view to a catastrophic failure on paper. Though the event wasn’t to bad to watch, it wasn’t event close to what it once was. The pay-per-view buys are projected to be very low, and the gate was less than $700,000. They actually had to close off sections of the arena to prevent it from looking too empty.

With UFC 186 in the past it felt like it was a bump in the road. Something that has happened in the past, and will inevitably happen again in the future. Either way, fans and media where excited for the next pay-per-view. The buzz was already starting to snow ball around the event one month before hand. The main event was to be Jones fighting Anthony Johnson, with a co-main event of the long awaited match up between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort. Unfortunately, for the UFC Jon Jones has once again found himself in legal trouble.

Jones’ alleged hit and run accident is a public relations nightmare in itself. Combined with Jones’ checkered legal past and failed drug test for Cocaine the UFC took action and suspended him indefinitely. They also stripped him of his title, to allow them to continue to move forward and give Jones’ the time to straighten out his life. The UFC did there absolute best with the situation, and the event remains largely intact with two titles on the line.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, news broke that Khabib Nurmagomedov was out of UFC 187 as well. Over the past few years Khabib has been developing into a star. His dominance inside the Octagon, international appeal, and new found ability with the English language all add up to exactly what the UFC needs right now, another big name. He was scheduled to fight Donald Cerrone for the number one contender spot in the light weight division. With another injury to Nurmagomedov’s knee it’s unlikely that he will be back fighting any time soon.

The rapid changes are nothing new, but Zuffa, LLC (owner of the UFC) has been able to turn it into a very successful business model over the years. As with any business it’s all about growth. In many ways the organization is subject to the same “you are only as good as your last fight” rule that their athletes are. The UFC needs to put on big shows, and draw big numbers consistently to establish to earn the faith of the financial institutions that back them. Though Q1 was successful, it was clear that there were many events that could have, and almost did change everything. Now with Q2 facing even larger issues the future is uncertain.

FrontRow Brian recently shared on twitter that there are rumors once again that Zuffa, LLC is in talks to sell the UFC. Taking into account the last year, it isn’t a far-fetched rumor. They have admitted to considering sale in the past, and found a way to keep it going. It’s been a long road for the Zuffa, LLC since there purchase of the UFC and you have to imagine they are getting tired of the ups and downs. It’s a challenging business model to find success in, and the athletes are largely unreliable. Time will only tell.

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.

  • Sam

    Grammar check your articles – some bad errors in there.