Zach Arnold is prepping another doom and gloom piece on the inevitable destruction of the MMA scene as we know it. No one takes a step back and looks at the overall picture quite like him so I urge you to check out the whole thing.
A lot of people could find themselves unemployed very shortly. In fact, the theme of the article I’m writing revolves around the possibility that five promotions could be out of business within the next 12-18 months. When you consider that Elite XC has basically (in my opinion) killed off several promotions with their failed attempt at a farm system, the damage done to the MMA industry is widespread and global. Money marks aren’t just going to suddenly pop up and prop up this high-risk business.
My greatest fear is that the MMA boom is dying and that the business in the next year will resemble what professional wrestling looks like right now with WWE as the only major player. Dana White can continue to say that UFC will be the biggest global sport within the next 8 years, but history indicates that UFC will be dominant- however, only in a WWE-type mold and not anything else. That’s great for UFC and probably simpler for your casual MMA fan who doesn’t want to get burned out with multiple promoters and garbage, money-losing shows getting booked. However, this is a terrible predicament for fighters and people inside the business who are trying to hang on for dear life and make a living.
If there’s one thing that makes me blow steam out of my dickhole like a kettle, it’s comparisons between pro wrestling and MMA. I forgive Zach and Dave Meltzer for it because they’re so dreamy, but it’s not gonna stop me from saying they’re wrong when … well, when they’re wrong. In this case I take issue with the idea that only having the UFC around will spell the end of the boom.
The big difference between MMA and pro wrestling is that minor league MMA is big and only getting bigger. Regional MMA shows sell out arenas. Non-WWE wrestling is lucky to fill a third of a high school gym. There are tons of regions across the US and Canada which have strong local promoters putting on regular shows and making money. As time goes on and the sport continues to grow, these promotions will only get more and more popular. Ask Stephan Patry and Mark Pavelich if their numbers are going up or down, and if they think the success or failure of non-UFC MMA companies is going to affect them.
I fully understand the idea that competition always benefits the consumer (and fighters). Without it the UFC will only become bigger dickheads than they already are now, and their product more exploitive. But I don’t think that the end of competing companies marks the end of the MMA boom at all. A world where the UFC is top dog and everyone else is a de facto farm league doesn’t signal the decline of the sport, and it doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of opportunities for other people to make money on the lower rungs.