“Hey Brett, you get your AARP membership in the mail yet ’cause I’ve been waiting weeks.”
Even the most hardcore MMA fan — you know, the guy who doesn’t see the point in any other sports existing since he has discovered the perfect one — has to admit that the similarities between mixed martial arts and professional football are many. From an athletic perspective, both are high impact and involve physically dominating your opponent. From a viewers perspective, both are hard hitting, fast paced, and exciting. From a mental perspective, both require a solid gameplan going in and quick decision making that could change the outcome in an instant. From my ex-girlfriend’s perspective, I have a “teeny weeny” and I’ll never be able to satisfy a woman. From a business standpoint, both sports heavily target the male 18-34 demo and have each has been successfully branded – the NFL with football and the UFC with MMA. Wait — one of those doesn’t fit quite right.
If I didn’t beat the idea hard enough already, MMA and football have a lot more in common than one might think. With that, I’ve got a proposal that could actually rock the foundation of the sport (not maybe-possibly-fingers-crossed-Tom-Atencio-style rock the foundation of the sport). Are you ready for it? I hope you’re sitting because this is going to blow your mind. Here it goes: MMA during the Super Bowl half-time show.
Are you let down because you don’t think that pitch lived up to the high expectations I set for it? Shut it. I bet you didn’t live up to your father’s expectations and I bet he eventually got over it (even though he reminds you what a disappointment you are at Thanksgiving dinner every year). Stop crying and eat your stuffing.
The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event in the United States. MMA, and the UFC in particular, has been exploding in popularity over the past few years which is the reason you’re even reading this web site right now. The UFC has historically ran a show the Saturday night before the Super Bowl and the card has always been stacked — Liddell v. Couture III in 2006, a card featuring Anderson Silva, Rampage Jackson, and Cro Cop in 2007, Lesnar v. Mir and Sylvia v. Nog in 2008, and now GSP v. Penn II in 2009. While this has become the company trend, it’s unclear as to how much running a show the night before the biggest football game of the year actually helps business. Airing a heavily promoted fight during Super Bowl half-time is a completely different story.
Ideally, the network would come to an agreement with the UFC and set up an Octagon in the center of the field. Since that doesn’t seem likely any time soon, this would instead need to be done as counter programming. WWE had a lot of success with it back in 1999, airing a match between The Rock and Mankind that pulled in 5 million viewers on the USA network. Last year, Spike aired Major Leage Chowdown: Ham n’ Eggs, which was essentially a televised abortion. Needless to say a UFC fight would be a big step up in quality for them. Also, this year network giant ABC is counter programming the half-time show with a MXC ripoff called Wipeout. I am positive the UFC would score higher ratings than Wipeout. If not, the armageddon is imminent.
The UFC would just have to spend some money on a commercial or two during the first half of the Super Bowl to guarantee viewers and the sport would get the largest exposure to the American audience we could ever hope for. If Affliction is taking a financial loss on their shows that are essentially viral marketing for their awesome t-shirts, then the UFC can shell out some cash for a giant MMA advertisement in the form of a sweet fight.
Plus, let’s not forget that the Super Bowl half-time show is usually a steaming pile of dog shit anyway. N’Sync, Britney Spears, U2, Shania Twain, Jessica Simpson, Janet Jackson (I see nipple!), Justin Timberlake, Sean “P. Diddy” “Puffy” “Cambodian Breast Milk” Combs, and Fucking Prince have all graced the half-time show with their presence. I would much rather see Georges St. Pierre v. Anderson Silva or Brock Lesnar v. Fedor Emelianenko than any of that shit, and I bet America would agree with me.