Saturday, November 14, 2009

By MMA analyst Joseph Lupoli

Virtually all MMA fans know who Dana White is—and the controversy which follows him everywhere.

Like him or loathe him, it appears that Dana is here to stay...maybe. And while most MMA followers are aware that Dana played a big part in salvaging the UFC organization from bankruptcy, thus turning it into a mega-million-dollar industry, many MMA fans avoid paying to watch UFC PPV events in favor viewing other less expensive MMA organizations.

One thing is for sure: The UFC is the most recognized Mixed Martial Arts title in the world. And, for the most part, they have the best fighters in the world.

But the UFC is far from being glitch-free. And I wonder whether or not Dana is aware of the problems regarding regulations and business ethics - or if he even cares.

Here are five MMA questions I would ask Dana White.

(1) Will you ever relax the contractual obligations of your fighters?

The UFC fans have been denied intriguing match-ups between UFC fighters and those from other top-tier MMA organizations.

For instance, the UFC has some sure-bet monster heavyweight new-comers who, after a few more fights, might be serious contenders to defeat Fedor Emelianenko. I see huge PPV windfalls for the UFC, but only if Joe Silva can bring championship match-ups that the fans really want to see.

Why not permit limited and structured cross promoting, especially in leu of the rash of injuries suffered by his top cash-cows? Does Dana White really want his organization to lose credibility by hyping a main event consisting of a 46-year-old Randy Couture, who has lost one-third of his fights, vs. an often defeated, 45-year-old Mark Coleman?

(2) You’ve taken a position that women won’t ever fight in the UFC – what will it take to alter that position?

Creative marketing ploys and investments would make female MMA fighters UFC-worthy, make no mistake. Look at it this way: Dana can market a 39-year-old guy (Chuck Liddell) who lost four out of his last five fights to headline a UFC event, yet he denies women even the chance to showcase their skills in the octagon.

Does continuously tapping the till of the UFC's stable of washed up fighters, but denying spots for highly motivated & well-trained MMA female athletes represent Dana's idea of long-term success?

The thing is, while MMA is gaining mainstream popularity, its fans are becoming more sophisticated and demographically broader.

(3) As front man and part owner of the UFC, every move you make is scrutinized by the media. Are you comfortable with the image you’ve created?

Whether Dana's public outbursts and expletive-laden tirades are part of a “tell it like it is” persona he continues to cultivate as a deliberate marketing ploy, his behavior will be the moving force for the 30-and over consumer bracket to turn their collective back on the UFC product. Most younger UFC fans seem to have no problem with Dana's now-signature controversial rantings. In fact, many actually embrace and justify his foul language and attitude. But I wonder...when social activist groups publicly object to bald-faced verbal abuse aimed directly at them, are they are being overly sensitive? Are they even entitled to challenge Dana's right to freedom of speech, or in many cases, slander?

(4) Which MMA rules and regulations would you change… which would you eliminate?

I wonder what, if anything, Dana would change to benefit the UFC as a whole. He seems satisfied that the UFC rules are effective regarding the fighters’ safety. And even though marred by the States Athletic Commissions inaccurate scoring system, Dana is probably too rigid to consider adjusting the UFC round structure similar to that of former Pride FC.

I’ll bet a ten-minute first round and a five-minute second round would spruce things up. And, what the hell—toss in a third five-minute round for championship fights. Here’s a regulation change: An occasional UFC tournament format, instead of the same stale fight-card structure? Get creative, man!

(5) Many MMA fans think the UFC is becoming too boxing-like in both atmosphere and guiding principle. Why do you think that is?

Some UFC fans think it’s time for a super heavyweight class. Brock Lesnar’s size pretty much started the ball rolling on that one. I believe that the UFC already has too many weight classes—that the game is watered down enough as it is. As a whole, UFC fighters feel less inclined to work the ground game than they used to. And since the fans are paying to see slugfests and knockouts, of course Dana, the referees, and the ringside judges want the same thing as well.

The problem is, MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts, not pro boxing.



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