For all the allure that the UFC had in its early stages, its brutality was not sustainable. This argument is long documented and hardly worth mention. At this point, Dana White and co. have been romanced by the big lights and others marveling at their relative resurrection of a business that had been reduced to ashes. For that, they should be lauded.
Unfortunately, they have begun to run their business as Boxing did and had done so perilously. With their blinders firmly affixed, their course has been chartered. Full steam ahead!
I had been a Jiu-Jitsu student prior to seeing the first UFC, so when I heard about it, I was frothing at the mouth to get my hands on it. I watched it with a group of friends and we lapped it up. The lack of discipline and weight class segregation eventually made it stale. After all, there’s only so many times you can watch Tank Abbott gas out after a minute. So with that, we had outgrown the UFC the same way my son has outgrown Clifford the Red Dog.
Then came the resurrection.
Dana White and co. brought the UFC to unrivaled highs. It produced weight classes and fought hard to gain the approval of state commissioning boards to give it credibility and a venue to work with. In addition to that, it became far more accessible (we no longer had to buy it on VHS) which, of course, was a lightning rod for its success. It is a lesson that has since been forgotten. Actually, the irony of abandoning what sparked success for the company is nearly palpable.
So what about boxing?
The UFC came to Boston a handful of years ago and I looked into going. This was at the apex of my interest. At this point, I would purchase maybe 2-4 pay-per-views events a year with friends. The tickets that I was able to find for this event exceeded $1000 and I can assure you that these were not prime seats by any exaggeration of the imagination, either. I would not have been able to hear Lucic insult the Canadiens had I been there for their recent Game Seven loss. Boxing, just with all gladiator sports from the beginning of time, have always been created for the pleasure of the ruler and executed by their subjects. Nowadays we just separate these people by giving them colored collars. Little else has changed. Well, the losers today are not dinner for the king’s animals, so we have that going for us. Before we get carried away, though, I recall watching boxing fights and seeing the celebrities fill the good seats. When you watch the pan at the UFC now, you see the same thing.
The fight pass is testing the law of diminishing return.
The fight pass is a snazzy new online pay service the UFC has created to test the dedication of its most dedicated fans. The UFC, from the mouth of Chief Content Officer, Marshall Zelaznik, states that the fight pass is a “complimentary product”. The problem with complimentary is that in implies addition opposed to subtraction to your experience, which truly the latter is what is occurring. Do not forget that its longest and greatest asset has always been its accessibility. Well, the prelims have now been removed from regular television and moved in exclusivity to the fight pass. It has now begun to test the laws of diminishing returns as well as other conventional financial analyses. Considering how tightly the UFC holds its revenues to its vest, it is hard to tell, but from what we do know;
As any criminal investigator will tell you; “the bones don’t lie”.
Pay-per-View buys have been down exponentially and this is after we consider the fact that there are no big draws in the UFC. They are struggling to reface its brand with the unforeseen departure of Georges St. Pierre. They are in a comparable position Democrats were in when Clinton left office; there was no standard bearer. So while maybe the UFC looked at this as the right time to launch the fight pass – I guess they did considering the rush job they put in it, I do not believe it was. The times in which I purchased the pay-per-view events, I was prodded to do so by the lead into it; the prelims. Without the prelims, I have not watched a fight since the fight pass launched and have quickly lost interest to do so. In full disclosure, I do still watch The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) show and enjoy it quite a bit. The only problem with this show is that it is, as they say in ‘Fight Club’ “single serving” shows. Even when these kids have completed the show, their success in the UFC is slow if at all and you’re not capturing PPV fans this way because the excitement that TUF may have generated has long since passed.
Boxing has gone the way of the dinosaur and for the UFC;
Forgetting the fans that got you to the top can be the same anchor for your fall and presumably, if the UFC maintains this model, you will only see the UFC fleetingly on ESPN only so you can say, “They still cover that?”