Bigwig current affairs website Slate.com just put up an article on the UFC and its ‘dangerous downturn’ since signing a new broadcast deal with FOX. A lot of the standard tropes floating around the MMA scene are in there: declining PPV numbers, sagging ratings, too many events with too few stars, et cetera. They go so far as to call the UFC’s success a bubble and wonder when the Fertittas are gonna sell the promotion and cash out.
There’s not a lot of new stuff in there for the fan who’s heard all this and more since the 2006 – 2009 boom petered out, but it’s still worth reading just to get all the warning signs in one place. Well, almost one place. Slate doesn’t mention how ticket sales have slowed down, or how popular fighters are competing less often for more money and are becoming increasingly difficult to manage.
Is it time to set your dick on fire and run around the room screaming that the sky is falling? Maybe not just yet. Most of the UFC’s problems can be pinned on the gypsy curse that started picking cards apart in 2009 but really got going in 2010, mercilessly raping main events for the past two years. The article cites Dana White saying “Eight out of 12 main events fell out. That’s 67 per cent!”
But that doesn’t change the fact that the slump is real. The how and why are only important in the context of trying to fix things or understanding what went wrong when conducting a final autopsy on the sport. Unfortunately, it’s gonna be tricky for the UFC to figure out how to keep guys on the roster from blowing out their knees or separating their shoulders.
Thus far the UFC’s answer is to sit tight, trust the formula, and wait out the injury bug. Let’s hope that works, because there’s not a lot of evidence from the UFC’s paint-by-numbers approach to their business that they have the dynamism and creativity to turn things around otherwise.