By MMA analyst Joseph Lupoli
So, Dana...how's life in UFC land?
It seems the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manuel Marquez Championship fight exceeded UFC 103 PPV numbers. Are you surprised? Of course you aren’t. And why should you be?
After all, UFC 103 featured no title fights, plus the card was on the tail-end of a barrage of UFC events that you packed in over the course of the last several months. But I’m aware of your competitive fire, and I know what you’re thinking.
Both you and I are disgusted over the fact that Floyd Mayweather can publicly disrespect MMA, and then go out and make millions by turning his fights into track meets—jabbing and running his way to boring 12-round decisions. Meanwhile, we MMA fans know that even the most lackluster MMA matches in UFC history were far more compelling and entertaining than nearly all of Floyd’s fights.
My question is: would you like to see the UFC outdo boxing for good and propel its way into the casual MMA fan’s living room? The UFC has most of the best fighters in the world. And the fact is I truly admire your work ethic and what you’ve done for the sport of MMA. Because of that, I’m going to offer you a possible solution—a counter attack that’s not complicated. Let’s take a look.
In January of 2001, the Fertitta brothers, along with you, the organization’s president, purchased the UFC. Almost immediately, the three of you collectively aimed the UFC toward mainstream recognition, partly by reconstructing the organization’s production design. Naturally, your marketing team researched until they found where the real money was, and then zeroed in on it: the 18 to 34-year-old demographic fan base.
And now that the UFC’s target audience has proven itself to be dependable and secure, your organization is faced with yet another obstacle: pro boxing. Yes, pro boxing is pinching the UFC PPV numbers—by how much is anyone’s guess. Who can say how many more boxing fans that also follow MMA would tune into a UFC event if a pro boxing championship fight was aired on the same evening.
Of course, we are both aware that the disparity in media coverage between pro boxing and MMA is one the UFC's biggest setbacks. And this is exactly why MMA needs more big time organizations, especially here in North America. Why?
This isn’t Japan. MMA in America has major sports competition, including pro boxing. Thus, it’s important to note that there's growth and stability in numbers, not in isolation. Sure, cross-promoting might sound like a bad idea now, but just think: what happened when the NFL took the risk and merged with the AFL? Answer: the NFL became richer! And did the NBA lose money when they fused with the ABA?
Unfortunately, the UFC’s aggressive advertising—not to mention your own media tirades, is what’s holding you back. Another problem is that you would rather squash what you perceive as potential MMA rivals. Well, instead of sabotaging other MMA organizations, why not allow some of them to help push the sport as a whole toward mainstream Utopia?
Riddle me this: Why shouldn’t Brock Lesnar fight Fedor Emelianenko? I’ll bet if those two locked horns, the UFC PPV numbers would make Bob Arum choke on his pheasant under glass! I mean, look at the big picture here!
Why can’t you work out a one-fight revenue sharing contract with Scott Coker? So what if you insulted him and his MMA organization. Scott doesn’t care. He’s is too busy allowing the Fedor vs. Rogers match hype itself! Come on, Dana, Brock vs. Fedor is a gold mine waiting to happen!
Okay, maybe you’re not sure about that proposal. Then here’s another suggestion to digest. Have you considered widening your UFC target consumer base in order to augment your PPV numbers…but you quite weren’t sure how to effectively achieve this?
It’s simple—almost too easy. Just tell your marketing personnel to tone down its caustic heavy metal music theme that encases the UFC’s garish laser-light production theatrics, and screaming fight announcers, to a more mainstream-friendly presentation.
Why not let only the fighters in the octagon display the sport’s violent aspects to the fans? Do you really need to have your graphic artists and media advertising personnel manufacturing a hostile atmosphere? Isn’t there enough testosterone-laden aggression within the octagon? MMA isn’t Pro Boxing or Pro Wrestling. There’s no need to demonstrate an abrasive, "in your face" approach to this sport.
Remember those original, UFC tournament events? Back then the fights were far more violent than they are now, and that’s why the UFC was banned by Congress. Yet, I found calmness in the UFC’s production lure. I also noticed that the fight announcers and color commentator’s (Jeff Blatnick and Jim Brown), lack of aggression to be more appealing in comparison to what the organization offers now.
You know what they say, Dana, “Life is simple. It’s people who complicate it.” The quickest way to move the UFC forward is by taking the high road. Lay off the hard-sell fight hyping, your cursing tirades, the cheesy advertising gimmicks, and think, "The Martial Arts mean respect." Then people outside the current UFC age bracket might want to take a closer look.
...In other words; reel in more fans by introducing some sophistication and superiority to your product.