So we are finally going to see one (or hopefully some) of the fights we, as MMA fans, have been wanting for years. Everyone seems pretty happy about that and, of course, we’ll be happy for as long as it continues.
Should we be happy though? IMO our joy should be more than offset by distrust for the direction MMA is heading in. Indeed, the only reason we are happy at all is because we’ve been deprived of the majority of the best match-ups for so long. Dana is transparently aiming for an oligopoly situation (UFC + Pride + insignificant minnows) having realized that a monopoly is not possible. The co-operation between Pride & UFC surely will last only for as long as it takes to achieve such a scenario, then we will be back to a situation devoid of the appropriate match-ups.
At this point I was intending to look at the similarities between boxing and MMA. In fact, I struggle to find any differences. MMA has fallen into the same ‘money trap’ that boxing is still unable to climb out of. In each discipline (boxing & MMA) there are a small number of major world titles, and many minor ‘world titles’. Anyone with a belt will claim to be the champion and promote themselves accordingly. Fights between belt holders happen so rarely that ‘undisputable’ world champions are a totally implausible dream. Fans (and fighters?) are made to feel lucky whenever the fights they desire occur. It is a situation that seems bad for everyone in the sport except the elite promoters and fighters, who get stinking rich.
Solutions? I can’t see any quick fixes at all. The one idea that came to me is far-fetched and probably can’t happen for one reason or another. Perhaps someone else has some ideas? Anyways, here it is:
A non-profit organisation (NPO) is created by a group of influential people (ex-fighters etc) committed to the bettering of MMA. All salaries are transparent with no bonuses – indeed, it is critical that the company be designed to eliminate the possibility of corruption at every level. Furthermore, NPO could be run democratically, with all registered fighters and fans being able to vote on important issues. NPO would have the only rankings and belts recognised by fans, pundits, and fighters as genuine. To launch NPO, all major fighters must be convinced that it is morally and financially the best option for them. They will commit themselves to being matched through NPO, who would also arbitrate any disputes over rules, purse ratio, etc. The fights will then be sold to promoters using a closed bidding system of some type. They are bought on a single fight basis, with little or no contractual clauses possible. Of course, promoters would be able to create their own fights with fighters unsigned to NPO, and could award their own belts, but these fights would not be seen as more than entertainment or reputation building by the fans, who all know that NPO creates the genuine match-ups. The system would have a ‘snowball’ effect whereby successful non-NPO fighters would realise they would be financially better off with NPO and would also be in a better position to achieve respect and status.
This only came to me this morning, so I’m sure there is much I have missed, doesn’t work, or is simply wrong. All critique etc is very welcome, as is alternative suggestions and additions. Also, I don’t claim that this is an original idea (I’m sure others have suggested it) but I haven’t yet seen a discussion on the details and politics of the possibility.