Lead Jab – UFC Entertainment or Sports League?

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Posted by Mika Frankl

Now don’t be deceived by the title of this week’s article, I know every person training Mixed Martial Arts is an athlete. There is no doubt that an MMA bout is a sporting contest. What I am talking about how the UFC differs from other major sports leagues and in ways that don’t support their product as a league but more as a entertainment company much the same as World Wrestling Entertainment.

Not too long after any UFC event, one of the first thing mentioned is attendance and TV rating or pay per view buy rates. The total concern about incoming money after each event and that these are always headline articles speaks to several things – yes many do like keeping an eye and seeing how the sport is growing and if we are getting a return audience. It also speaks to a concern of money that always circles the UFC and it’s known that because the UFC is a PPV business much like the WWE, boxing, and unlike any other American sport. The UFC does give many free fights on Fox, Fuel TV, and FX. For the most part title fights are shown on PPV. This meaning in America the home base of the UFC we pay for title fights. I say America because it’s well noted that PPV does not exist in other countries, lucky us, but this is the way of life here. But UFC competing with WWE or Boxing for buyrates is a little out there. Boxing is built around the stars or as most of us know two stars – Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. To the determent of the UFC they have a show must go on mentality that even if a huge star like Welterweight Champion Georges “Rush” ST. Pierre is injured they can just make a interim belt. An injury like that to a champion in Boxing would just signal the cancellation of a event. As for the UFC and WWE competing, the whole scripted vs not did end all reason of comparison for me for a while. The fact that the UFC also wanted to separate its self from WWE and kept saying it made me believer that they were different. By not doing over the top entrances was a good start but people complained that the entrances need more spicing up. Main event fights on UFC PPV have added some flair over recent years.The WWE relies on promotion and hype as the UFC fighters call each other out they talk with action that was until guys like Brock Lesnar, Chael Sonnen, and Micheal Bisping took the mic ran with it and the attention their comments gave them have only grown these man into stars show that maybe the two are not so different. Both rely on evoking emotion from the crowd and drawing on good vs bad personas to sell an event. One can’t be blamed for seeing too many similarities between what should be easy to define.

The UFC differs from other sports leagues because they say “we’ll have to see what happens” more than any league. Not many times in major sport are you told if you win in a dominate or exciting enough way you get a chance for the championship. In not many sports does one team go in knowing a win gets a championship opportunity, while the other is just moving on with a win. The cases of Donald Cerrone vs Nate Diaz or Melvin Guilliard vs Joe Lauzon were like this. I didn’t get having a number one contender match with only one top contender. All other leagues have it that a chance to get to the big game goes both ways. I don’t see how the UFC think beating a non title contender makes you the number one contender. The Bellator fighting Championship, which is the second biggest MMA organization does a great job of using tournaments to determine number one contenders in a forum that is explained and in a format that make sense. In Bellator title shots are earned not given is the slogan. The way they do it proves the need for number one contenders matches. The NFL would not stop the Cleveland Browns from going to the super bowl if they won the games to get their. The UFC does not like to put fighters in big bouts on account of lack of marketability or lack or excitement but if you can bring attention with your words like Chael Sonnen a lot gets overlooked.

The last point to make on this topic is that every MMA media site has top ten rankings and pound for pound rankings. We know that pound for pound ranking are a hypothetical so that does not mater. Even a top ten of one weight class encompassing all organizations is a hypothetical list. The ranking that would matter is if the UFC did a ranking system to show who is where in association to getting a title shot. The reason why I believe we would not ever see a ranking system is because if their is a lopsided match this would just add a even bigger eye sore on the card like if we knew Chad Mendez was number seven and that Cody McKenzie was number thirty before there UFC 148 battle. How would that look for the UFC?

I love the sport of MMA. The UFC ,as an organization, needs to decide on to be more about ntertainment or being a legit sports league. The worst thing that I see about the recent trends is that more and more the spirit of competition and the spirit of inner sanctity of a warrior is being tarnished.