Dana White recently said that the UFC would like to have more fight cards in other countries, as a way to increase brand awareness and to give fighters more chances to fight. He even brought up the idea of having two shows at the same time in different places. He said this could lead to regional champions, so you would have a European champion, an Asian champion, and so forth.
My first thought on this is that it sounds great, as it would lead to more fighters and better competition. However, there’s also a real possibility that it could breakdown quickly, because it would be extremely complicated to implement. The first question would be how to separate everyone. Do you do it by continent? That would lead to an overabundance of fighters in certain regions, as I’m sure the Europe or Asia regions would dwarf the Australia region.
There’s also the problem of how to handle who would receive title shots at the UFC champions? The idea of having regional champions is interesting, and I’m in favor of the UFC running more events, but I think it’s just too complicated to actually work as intended. It’s a great goal to have, but it would require so much work and risk that it’s probably not very feasible right now. It’s a good long-term goal to have, and it is do-able, but they need to start laying the groundwork now.
I mentioned this idea to some people I know, and the topic of brand dilution came up. It’s much the same way that the NFL wants to move to an 18-game season and how they’re on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and sometimes Saturdays. It’s about how much is too much? The NBA and NHL seasons are hurt by being 82 games long, and MLB is almost intolerable because of its 162 game season. How does this apply to the UFC running more events?
The different weight classes prevent this from being as big a problem for the UFC. There are eight weight classes in the UFC, and while that’s not quite like having eight leagues, it does lessen brand fatigue. Of course, there are still people out there who think the lighter fighters can’t compete with the heavier fighters, but once they’re introduced to more of the lighter fighters they’ll see that their fights are generally much more exciting.
I’ve heard it said that the heavyweight division is the crown jewel in fighting sports. I disagree. In boxing and MMA, the heavyweight division is cubic zirconia compared to the emeralds and sapphires of the other weight divisions.
The biggest stumbling block to running more shows is that people will get sick of MMA if they see it all the time. That’s where the regional part comes in. A large percentage of the fights that the UFC runs would take place in a country other than your own. Let’s say that the UFC has five regions. The goal could be to run 30 events a year in each region. The majority of UFC events would be in another country. This would allow the UFC to run many more events, with a lesser chance of brand fatigue for each region.
It’s good to hear this from the UFC now, as it gives confidence for their long-range goals. This won’t happen anytime soon, but it should happen eventually. Hopefully the UFC has done more than just think about it, though. This idea sounds very pie-in-the-sky, but with a lot of hard work, it can be reality.
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