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The advantage of owning a bunch of promotions

One of the biggest issues with the way the UFC is doing business now is how they let go of so many promising fighters who end up floating their competitor’s boats. Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, Joe Riggs, Jeff Monson, Ken Shamrock, Shonie Carter, the list goes on and on and on and on … and on! Half the time, when you see some recognizable names on a non-UFC card, that name came from the UFC.

Sure, you can definitely argue that the UFC is the premiere league and as such it should only have premiere fighters. But every time the UFC lets go of an established fighter who is underperforming, they’re giving ammunition to their competition.

So what to do with all these guys? You do what ProElite is doing and shuffling them around the different organizations it owns. Look at Ninja Rua … after losing to Robbie Lawler at the last EliteXC show, there wasn’t much left for him to do in that organization. But rather than drop him, ProElite has moved him over to Cage Rage where he can rebuild some momentum and be available to EliteXC when a smart matchup presents itself.

The UFC needs the same thing. And no, they don’t have the same thing in the WEC. They could, but Zuffa brass is too proud to call the WEC their feeder system and are trying to establish it as something else. What, I don’t really know. Maybe it’s true that they’re just blocking another promotion from landing on Versus, and Versus wouldn’t bite if the WEC really became a minor league for the UFC.

The UFC has proven over and over again that they’re willing to spend tens of millions on marketing but aren’t interested in investing in fighters who may just need a bit more time and experience to become stars. Or fighters who may never be able to hold the belt but are still hard working, skilled, and exciting fighters.

There’s already 1001 examples of guys being let go by the UFC who are now the crown jewel in their respective promotions. It’s only going to get worse down the road if the UFC doesn’t figure out some way to keep these guys under contract for themselves.

  • Lifer says:

    “They could, but Zuffa brass is too proud to call the WEC their feeder system and are trying to establish it as something else.”

    Also, how would the fighters feel if it was labelled as such?

  • garth says:

    well, the fighters are fine in orgs like KOTC, CRFC, NAGA, etc, and those have only an informal feeder status. The way dudes line up for the Ultimate Fighter I’d imagine they’d be happy to be seen as effectively AAA level. Additionally, for 135 and 145-lb fighters that’s as high as it goes.
    I think the idea of WEC as triple A is great. I really, really never understood the idea of claiming to promote another show against your own. Of course, it’s all bullshit, they are being used as a feeder/holding tank for fighters, but what, are they being clever or something with the separate league talk?

  • kermit_01 says:

    I agree to an extent that it would be smart for the UFC to scoop up some small promotions so they can have a place to stick people who are tanking with out letting them out of their contract or shit canning them.

    However the argument could be made that if you make a televised fight in the UFC you are now a well known name. However some of those people on occassion just simply suck and deserve to be relegated to fighting in the local bingo hall.

    The list you gave are all guys that have well known names, but each of them had hit rather low points when their UFC run ended. I’m sure the money to keep Ken in the UFC would have been carzy high for a guy who had lost 7 of his last 10 fights when he left the UFC.

    The other guys are all well known, but even Lawler for example had a record of 4-3 in the UFC when he left. The only name he beat that I even remember was Chris Lytle and I only remember his name because he was on TUF. The only real names he faced he lost.

    So in his case a B league might have worked, but then theres the issue of money. If guys working TUF contracts in the UFC are making beans how can you justify the kind of money someone like Lawler or Diaz would want to fight in a B league?

    I think eventually you’ll see a feeder company, but the UFC needs to crawl out of the RED a bit more before it moves into something like that.

  • ProElite is doing a good job scooping up some established promotions and moving their fighters around so they can face whoever makes the most sense rather than who is under contract with a specific promotion. Their business strategy is putting on some good fights.

  • Beau says:

    UFC is starting to do what you just said. They sent down Jens Pulver and they were going to send down Chris Lytle until he got that fight against Alves. The idea of promoting WEC as a rival is a good one because it makes the fights more meaningfull. They should just start sending guys who were close to the UFC titles but just couldn’t get there. Then they would have legit champions who would have a shot against the UFC champ. A good example would be Babalu pre-choke. He’s really good, but not good enough to beat the top tier guys. But if he was WEC Light Heavy champ you’d probably consider it pretty legit and tune in to see him defend his title. There are lots of guys from each weight class that would fit the same bill.