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Thread: Does the UFC Need to Decide If It Is Sport or Sports Entertainment?

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    Default Does the UFC Need to Decide If It Is Sport or Sports Entertainment?

    Does the UFC Need to Decide If It Is Sport or Sports Entertainment? | Bleacher Report

    I'll forgive you if you've never heard the term "sports entertainment."

    Sports entertainment, after all, is a little ditty composed by Vince McMahon back in the 80s used to describe his then-World Wrestling Federation. Instead of calling themselves professional wrestling—a term McMahon detests to this very day—he opted to use the much more vague-sounding "sports entertainment," thus comparing his product to the high-brow forms of entertainment coming out of Hollywood.

    But despite the name change, the point of pro wrestling is still the same as it ever was: build up stars to the point where people at home are willing to pay to see them, at the arena or live on pay-per-view television. That sounds a little bit more familiar, doesn't it?

    We've gone through the historical connections between sports entertainment and mixed martial arts in the past, so I'm not going to rehash it all here. And besides, all of that information can be found in my colleague Jonathan Snowden's book Total MMA, which is a highly-recommended read.

    But suffice to say that there are plenty of similarities between what Vince McMahon does in order to build up his monthly pay-per-view events and what Dana White does in order to build up his UFC events.

    And that's okay by me. As long as the UFC is a company driven forward by pay-per-view success, it's going to be reliant upon building up pay-per-view stars. There's nothing wrong with that. And lately, it seems like the UFC is just a little bit better at being the WWE than the WWE itself is.

    I'm not trying to offend the delicate sensibilities of my hardcore readers. This is just the way of the world.

    Look at Nick Diaz inexplicably getting a title shot "because Georges wants it and Georges is a good company guy who never asks for anything." Look at Chael Sonnen bypassing roughly four different light heavyweight contenders who were all promised title shots but then overlooked when it came time to make a decision that might help save The Ultimate Fighter's flagging ratings. And look at Ronda Rousey being given what might be generously called an easy fight in order to cushion the landing of her first UFC pay-per-view main event.

    It's money, and money talks. Again, this is the way of the world, or at least the way of the UFC (and WWE): If you don't put people on your shows that folks will pay to see, well, you're not going to have your own shows for very long. Just ask every other MMA company that could not (or would not) figure out this very simple formula quickly enough to stay afloat.

    But here's the real question: Can the UFC continue operating with this model indefinitely? Cable-industry experts I've talked to believe they cannot, and not because they're doing something wrong. Rather, it's because the future of cable, home television, the Internet and the intersection of those moving parts looks very different than it does today.

    The future of the UFC, I think, resides on network television. Seven years from now, I think you'll see all of the UFC's biggest and baddest events airing on Fox. Of course, that idea hinges on the UFC signing a new rights deal with FOX that pays them a whole heck of a lot more than they're currently getting. After all, the current deal is pretty nice, but it pales in comparison to the rights packages typically paid out for other sports.

    But what happens if the UFC can, from television rights deals, get the kind of revenue they're currently generating on a yearly basis on pay-per-view? Then pay-per-view falls by the wayside, and the UFC becomes a more traditional sporting company.

    And if the UFC is more of a traditional sporting company, they're going to need to ensure that they don't do things that make traditional sports fans give you quizzical looks. Things like Nick Diaz getting a title shot coming off a loss and a suspension for a drug-test failure or Chael Sonnen getting a title shot coming off a loss in a weight class he hasn't competed at in years. These are not the kind of things that make sense to your typical sporting fan.

    Hell, they don't even make that much sense to me, and I fully understand why they're doing it.

    My point in all of this is that there is a very fine line between delivering big fights that the fans want to see and going over the top, pro-wrestling style, in a way that will keep actual sports fans (and their much-coveted wallets) away from your product in droves.

    It can't be easy for Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta or anyone else at the Zuffa offices to make these kinds of decisions. Especially not today, given the Red Hot Chili Peppers played the Zuffa Christmas Party in Las Vegas last night, and those parties are known to look like a war zone when they're completed.

    White, Fertitta and company do a good job of balancing entertainment and sports, but it's something they need to be even more vigil about as the UFC heads into its second year with broadcasting partner Fox. Because if the "sports" falls by the wayside in favor of big and bombastic "sports entertainment," well, there may not be a future at all.
    I posted the article above in response to a comment from our esteemed (sincerely) contributor MickeyKnox:

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyKnox View Post
    We already knew the number one contender was not going to get the shot so this is not a surprise. The UFC is just entertainment. It's not like someone said this is supposed to be a real sport or something so who cares? It's just a big show. It's not a sport.

    I'll always watch fights but my hopes I've had for the UFC to become what I imagined it could be are gone for now. Hopefully things will change for MMA fans but i'm not counting on anything the UFC says anymore until I see it. It takes away interest against my will.

    If MMA was 110% entertainment, i'd feel like keeping up with fights and watching them live wouldn't really be as important as they've always been to me. If UFC was purely entertainment, it won't last forever. People who only give a shit about seeing violence move on from it sooner or later after you see the same things over and over again. It's people like some of us on the board who could watch this shit forever as long as it has the sport aspect attached to it.

    /endsorevagina
    A year ago, I would have defended the UFC as sport, or at least well on its way to becoming a legit sport. But considering how Zuffa booked Chael Sonnen for a LHW title shot, and how they handled the GSP-Diaz-Hendricks love triangle, they've fallen off and regressed back to spectacle. I think today's the day when I start to re-emphasize the distinction between UFC and MMA. MMA is a sport, UFC is sports entertainment.

    All hail Bellator.

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    The decision has already been made. It's been very intentionally following the sports entertainment model for the last 4 years, and as much as I'd like it to be, it is no longer a sport.


    MMA is a sport. The UFC is sports entertainment.

    MMA encompasses everything: Pro, amateur, WMMA, unified or non-unified rules. zuffa tries to distill all of that into one easy-to-digest package for the masses.

    rh
    All manner of men came to work for the News: everything from wild young Turks who wanted to rip the world in half and start all over again -- to tired, beer-bellied old hacks who wanted nothing more than to live out their days in peace before a bunch of lunatics ripped the world in half.

    Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
    The Rum Diary

    Yeah, Bye.

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    It's evident that the UFC has already chosen the path that has more financial gain and is easier to market.

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    A year ago, I would have defended the UFC as sport, or at least well on its way to becoming a legit sport. But considering how Zuffa booked Chael Sonnen for a LHW title shot, and how they handled the GSP-Diaz-Hendricks love triangle, they've fallen off and regressed back to spectacle. I think today's the day when I start to re-emphasize the distinction between UFC and MMA. MMA is a sport, UFC is sports entertainment.

    All hail Bellator.
    This needs to be said to Dana White, shit is becoming a joke. These matchups might make big money in the short term, but i think in the long term damages the legitimacy of the sport and people will start to see through it. Match ups like these will hurt the UFC in the long run with the purists.

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    Even if all of this was said to dana white, he'd just laugh as he got in his Ferrari and drove away. I don't think he gives a fuck about legitimacy. He gives a fuck about keeping the books in the black, and tomorrow may never come.

    rh
    All manner of men came to work for the News: everything from wild young Turks who wanted to rip the world in half and start all over again -- to tired, beer-bellied old hacks who wanted nothing more than to live out their days in peace before a bunch of lunatics ripped the world in half.

    Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
    The Rum Diary

    Yeah, Bye.

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    yea i agree he's too concerned with making money than making MMA a legitimate sport smh

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    I guess it's more sports entertainment at this point. TRT, PEDS, alot of silly rules and the judging system. Meh more casual fans then hardcore that need to be catered too. Still better then Wrestling and boxing so i'll get my fix.
    My wife said the other day I haven't woken her up cheering in awhile. NHL's been fuked for years, can't stand boxing anymore and stopped watching wrestling when I got older, I can honestly say I don't get excited about MMA as I use too.
    Last edited by Qball1974; 12-18-2012 at 08:41 PM.

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    Yeah its taking a turn for the worse. I condemned SF when giving title shots to people coming off of losses and so I have to condemn the UFC for doing the same damn thing. Hendricks knocked my boy Kampmann into lala land (gawd damn thats hard to say) and earned his title shot. Diaz lost a close decision to Condit and claimed he was retiring and then pissed hot for weed. He doesnt deserve a shot at the belt.

    The UFC is coming off more like sports entertainment, definitely.

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    I find a lot of these replies a bit absurd. To discredit the UFC as a sport. In the end it's still Mix Martial Arts. How they proceed to show it like is different i agree. However do not take away from these athletes and the sport. Everyone is always so concerned about title shots and everything. Would you rather it be like Boxing where they have 150000 titles and every fight is for a championship. To be honest I really don't care if a match is for a title. As long as I get to see some good fights thats all that matters. That article is a bit off though because WWE didn't start to be called sports entertainment until the 90's. but anyways

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    Quote Originally Posted by rivethead View Post
    The decision has already been made. It's been very intentionally following the sports entertainment model for the last 4 years, and as much as I'd like it to be, it is no longer a sport.


    MMA is a sport. The UFC is sports entertainment.

    MMA encompasses everything: Pro, amateur, WMMA, unified or non-unified rules. zuffa tries to distill all of that into one easy-to-digest package for the masses.

    rh
    They may follow that business model, however, what happens in the cage doesn't follow the sports entertainment model at all.

    UFC is sports. The day UFC starts predetermining the outcome of the fight, then it will be considered sports entertainment.

    I understand the hate on the UFC for it's matchmaking, but that doesn't change what happens in the cage and that's all that matters.
    Goodbye Mr. Burton

    All in the reflexes
    Anderson Silva 5: TRT USERS 0 Hendo - Forrest - Nate - Chael... twice

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