We'll have to get used to seeing more cards with nobodies and up and comers.There here's a good article about him from www.sherdog.com
In 1998, SEG, wheezing parent of a bastard sport, slotted a whopping three shows to exhibit for the entire year. Their world tour started in Louisiana, made a stop in Alabama, and ended up on display via a smoke-strewn arena in Brazil.
Not even the most generous of frequent-flyer mileage would’ve added up to much.
In early August of 2006, the UFC has already closed the book on nine shows, with up to seven more projected by the end of the year. Another half-dozen events from rival organizations will get queued up on the pay channels.
What a difference time — and management — can make.
The explosive growth of MMA, fueled by a national television presence and an influx of new promotions, seems destined to satiate even the most ravenous of fight fans. But instead of the expected salutations, the diehards are instead griping about diluted cards and swollen cable bills.
With so many events and so few athletes with ready-made personas, cards have become rife with newcomers. Anonymous faces are nothing new in boxing, where only the main event is expected to draw attention. But mixed martial arts followers have long enjoyed the myriad of talent on any given night, where even some un-televised preliminary match-ups stirred up more interest than the headliners.
August 26’s UFC pay-per-view card is expected to have a minimum of seven debuting or low-visibility athletes. While it’s entirely probable that they’ll deliver fireworks in the ring, their lack of exposure means that fans have yet to develop an emotional interest in the outcomes. Instead of sharing the marquee with Chuck Liddell (Pictures), compelling mid-card fights like Diego Sanchez (Pictures)-Karo Parisyan (Pictures) are being shuffled into main events on free TV.
The perception is that the UFC is presenting a sub-standard product, which simply isn’t true. What is true is that, with up to a dozen more cards to fill, they don’t have an established talent pool big enough to draw from.
One solid card circa 2003 is now being divvied up to create enough substance for two or three cards for the ’06 circuit; the remaining slots are being farmed out to up-and-coming athletes who may lack the braggadocios behavior of their more renowned predecessors.
It's certainly a disturbing strategy, considering the UFC has imported only one A-list fighter in Anderson Silva since their success on SpikeTV in early 2005. Previously, it made perfect sense to continue bringing up homegrown stars on a budget until their visibility increased. Now it has — with multi-million dollars gates and mid-six figure pay-per-view buys.
Sad, but true: Couture is retired; Liddell is 36.
What exactly is the plan for when the current crop of box office draws fades out?
A fight is nothing more than a narrative, a dramatic conflict played out in 15 or 20 or 36 minutes. Without knowing anything of the participants, it’s difficult to garner interest. While the UFC’s Web page has made great strides in delivering personality profiles, their ambitions might best be extended to streaming video packages of rookie fighters usually reserved for moments before a bout.
(The Internet is little more than a publicity machine that runs day and night. Might as well maximize its usefulness and give the crowds something more to cheer for than a hometown or a cool tattoo.)
That fractured picture applies to MMA as a whole. With a crop of new promotions, often backed by deep pockets, elite competitors are being distanced from one another. Quinton Jackson (Pictures) would’ve rounded out the UFC’s 205-pound picture nicely. Instead, the WFA snapped him up.
In pursuing Wanderlei Silva (Pictures), the UFC is taking great strides in avoiding that isolation. But the picture seems clear enough: as long as PRIDE continues hemorrhaging employees, other investors will continue to snap them up for their own feeder showcases against mediocre talent.
(In most cases, the upstart shows will fold, victims of limited brand awareness; if someone has $40 bucks to drop on a fight, they’re likely to go with the proven product.)
In the interim, both casual and learned fans will be bombarded with multiple shows per month. The “itch” to see someone getting knuckled up that once lasted several months can be sated within the week, so long as you don’t mind a series of unfamiliar faces on the receiving end of a hematoma.
Can there be too much MMA?
That’s purely subjective, but one thing is clear: if you had told one of those combat-starved fans in ’99 that “too many fights” would eventually be broadcast, you’d likely wind up starting one for yourself.
For comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Sherdog.com incorrectly reported Liddell as being 37.