As International Fight Week commences in Las Vegas, it seems to be an appropriate time to discuss the current state of MMA. In this piece, we will cover topics such as the disasters of the not-so unified rules, the lack of promotion for UFC fighters, Bellator’s deceptive rise, and of course, a brief look at the Mayweather vs McGregor fight.
The new MMA unified rules have taken effect, but it would appear that the rules are anything but “unified”. Between the disasters with NYSAC, to the doping issues in Dallas, not even the referees have been able to keep all matters straight. Knowing full well that MMA is not federally sanctioned like other sports, this may be the proper time to push for federal oversight, as well as a real unified rules system.
This most likely not happen soon enough to fix the issues at hand, but it would make the sport better in the long run. The other option is to refrain from making fight cards in areas that do not honor the new unified rules. WME likely will not follow this suggestion, simply because their main concern seems to surround making money back on a $4.02 billion purchase.
Most have probably noticed that there seems to be quite a bit of complaining coming from MMA fighters these days. Some of it is residual from the UFC’s Reebok deal, but essentially every week, we are hearing somebody new speaking to the media about a lack of promotion. While these fighters do make a point, I feel that they do not realize that the 52 scheduled events this year can prevent them from properly advertising one fight card.
Many of today’s fighters grew up watching legends such as Chuck Liddel, Randy Couture, and a younger, and more dominant Anderson Silva, and they also remember the attention that was given to them on a national scale. The 52 planned events equal out to one event per week for an entire year. When you have that many events, it is nearly impossible to promote every single fight card on a high level without causing confusion among casual fans.
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, not every fighter is Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, and not everyone has the earning potential that they do. Fighters such as Amanda Nunez and Demetrious Johnson deserve the extra attention, but there are a large number of fighters that don’t. With over 500 fighters on the UFC roster alone, spotlights will pass over a select few, while the rest are left wanting more.
One promotion that would appear to having a stellar year so far is Bellator. By signing top-five world ranked fighters, and luring them away from the UFC, Bellator MMA has given the illusion that it’s talent pool is getting better and better. Rory MacDonald is the one quality fighter that Bellator has signed to a division that lacks any real talent for him to contend with. While MacDonald is going to make a great champion, other prospects have already proven to be duds on an already-lackluster roster. Some may say that Ryan Bader winning the championship disproves my theory, but anybody who watched that bout was probably excited for it be over, considering the extreme lack of action.
Some also may recall Vitor Belfort making statements about creating a legends league for older fighters. In my opinion, Bellator already has a legends league, and it’s their light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. Recently, Bellator hosted the second PPV in the history of their division, and the main event was Chael Sonnen vs Wanderlei Silva. This could have been an interesting match up, if it was 2007.
There was nothing about that PPV that was intriguing, and Michael Chandler’s unfortunate injury/lack of stool just adds to the mediocrity. My advice to the Bellator promotion is to go back to what made Scott Coker successful in Strikeforce, which is growing quality talent and building from within, instead of overpaying overrated talent from the UFC.
Lastly, let’s briefly discuss what will most likely be the biggest fight of all-time, and just so happens to be a boxing match. I personally never believed that this fight would happen, nor did I take it seriously when the media outlets started talking about it. After all, here we are, just under two months away from watching a boxer against an MMA fighter in the ring.
I will not give you my specific opinion on this fight at this time, because I will discuss this deeply in the near future, but let me just say that if this had not been such a down year for the UFC, this fight would not be happening. The year of 2016 was packed with huge cards and memorable fights, whereas 2017 has had one or two big fights so far, and the new ownership is seeming desperate to make a splash. Obviously, this fight is a no-brainer for both Floyd and Conor, but it could quite possibly bring down both Boxing and MMA in the eyes of fans. Right now, all we can do is strap in and enjoy this whirlwind ride, and hope that we aren’t left picking up the pieces when it’s all over.
What are your thoughts on how this year in MMA has been going? Please comment and give your opinion. Check back later in the week for The Athlete’s Hub UFC 213 Pick ‘Em article, and stay tuned for my official Mayweather vs McGregor fight breakdown.
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