The UFC has seen many title belts change hands in the past year. From long reigning champions like Jose Aldo, Ronda Rousey, and Jon Jones (note that Jones has not yet lost his belt in the ring) to up-and-coming champions like Rafael dos Anjos, Luke Rockhold, and most recently Robbie Lawler. Some people view this as a problem for the UFC because MMA has long been a sport buoyed by superstar individuals, but take a look at the counter argument.

Obviously MMA, like most any professional sport, benefits from superstar athletes carrying more than their fair share of the PR and notoriety load. It ends up being easier to build up other athletes by putting them in the limelight when a star is headlining the card. The other side of the coin, however, is that people watch this sport particularly because regardless the level of knowledge or experience one possesses, any individual match can be entirely unpredictable. All it takes is one punch, kick, slip & fall, cut over the eye, broken foot, or common cold, to completely swing a fight in any direction.

While the UFC as a promotion is by no means starved for super stars in this current era, many outsiders are coming to the sport and wondering what the quality of competition is at the moment and will be going forward. Many of these people have been brought into the fray out of curiosity after the notice of the large sale of the promotion (the $4 billion sale finalized after signature event UFC 200). They hear stories and see videos of Ronda Rousey taking down opponent after opponent in less than a minute to retain her title. The memories of Anderson Silva’s long run are still fresh in their minds. When one takes a step back and realizes that the athletes that knocked those legends off their perches not all that long ago have already been knocked off of the top of the mountain as well. And coincidentally, so have those who followed. Meaning that two of the most watched divisions in recent history have seen unprecedented turnover at the top of the rankings. This means that the casual fan does not have time to learn the ins-and-outs of each new champion before they are no longer the champion. That can disenchant fans from taking the time to learn about them in the first place, preventing them from becoming super-stars and causing a vicious cycle. The UFC may end up having a bigger super-star problem because, well, they have a super-star problem.

Now, in all reality, that’s not a fair way to look at it. What this could, and in all likelihood actually means, is that the talent in MMA is getting better. The pools of quality coaches, camps, and athletes are getting deeper around the world. The fact that when someone takes a title belt there is someone of quality waiting for them posing a legitimate threat, just shows that the sport is successfully growing in the right ways.

What does that really mean? It means that die-hard MMA fans have even more athletes to learn about and highlights to watch. For the casual MMA fan? It means that they have a better chance at knowing someone who is involved at a high level, because the sport is growing in new regions, gaining traction across this country as well as the world. Seeing that growth, which is leading to parity, should only help the sport and other organizations not named UFC, and that is something that needs to be celebrated instead of being looked down on. The more stories there are to be heard, the more people that are getting involved for the right reasons, the better off the sport is for the long term.

About The Author

Staff Writer

Mike is a long time MMA fan that is currently a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Judo. He has a degree in Sport and Exercise Science: Teaching emphasis, along with 8+ years of experience coaching and competing in folk-style and freestyle wrestling, as well as 23+ years competing in and teaching Olympic-style and traditional judo, and 5 years as a practitioner of boxing and kickboxing. This all gives him a unique perspective as a fan of the fight game.