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Thread: Escaping the money trap

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    Lightbulb Escaping the money trap

    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.

    git.

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    What the hell are you banging on about?

    The UFC & Pride come together & thrash out a deal that brings the world of mma the most talked about "fantasy" fight in it's history.

    And that's a bad thing?!?

    If you're saying that the only reason for this is so that the UFC can become more corporate & swallow up the smaller mma promotions, then maybe you have a point. However what would the point of that be?

    It's a crying shame that Dana White is so threatened by other promotions that he was to go to the extent of throwing out an invited guest before UFC61 cos he runs a rival company. If that was the reason he got evicted. But the "smaller" shows are vital to the growth of mma & I'm sure Dana knows that.

    But with all that aside if it means that we the fans get more fights between promotions then let the good times roll my friend

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    What the hell are you banging on about?

    The UFC & Pride come together & thrash out a deal that brings the world of mma the most talked about "fantasy" fight in it's history.

    And that's a bad thing?!?
    No, temporarily it’s a good thing. However, in an ideal world we would have seen this fight, and many other desirable fights, some time ago. We are ecstatic primarily due to the amount of time we’ve waited for this fight IMO, and I think we’ll return to waiting (maybe permanently) after the alignment of interests between Pride & UFC disappears again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    If you're saying that the only reason for this is so that the UFC can become more corporate & swallow up the smaller mma promotions, then maybe you have a point. However what would the point of that be?
    $. Is it a trick question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    But with all that aside if it means that we the fans get more fights between promotions then let the good times roll my friend
    I’m looking forward to the good times rolling, of course, but why do we need to suffer the ‘mediocre times’? It’s because the elite fighters are committed to fighting for one promotion or the other, and interests usually clash to prevent the big fights happening. The politics this creates is what causes the outrageous distribution of wealth between different fighters and to the promoters. There must be a better way for the fighters, the fans, and mma in general – that is what I’m thinking of. If the big fights continue to happen then that would be great (I doubt it though), but for me there is a sour taste left in the mouth when I think of where all the money is going. The undercards barely eek out a living, the top fighters make very good money, but there’s still tens (soon to be hundreds) of millions of $ to account for - it smells like boxing.

    I should have expected your sentiments writing my post during a time of celebration, but surely you would prefere the ideal scenario to one where we feel f'in lucky when we get the best match-up?

    git.

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    So basically unionize the fighters?????

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    But what you're saying is the same in EVERY sport.

    The end of the day every professional team is assembled to make money for the owners of the team, be it basketball, football, whatever. By saying everyone should be allowed to play with whoever they want is perfectly ok, but it'll never happen.

    Why would say the UFC allow Tito Ortiz Vs Ken Shamrock fight on another company's card?

    Also it wasn't a trick question. Dana, for all his faults, knows that without these other promotions the talent would dry up & therefore the UFC go out of business. So unless he's in it for a quick buck & can't see the point of killing the competition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kickass32
    So basically unionize the fighters?????
    Not really. A union is for employees, and would be a good idea (that is if the promoters couldn't prevent it). However, what I describe is more of a promotion company for freelance fighters - just a global and ethically sound one. If fans, fighters, and pundits all pulled together it could immediately be in a position of absolute strength (and democracy).

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    But what you're saying is the same in EVERY sport.

    The end of the day every professional team is assembled to make money for the owners of the team, be it basketball, football, whatever. By saying everyone should be allowed to play with whoever they want is perfectly ok, but it'll never happen.
    I don't agree that it is the same in -every- sport, and I don’t think a pool of fighters is generally a ‘team’ or should be owned – it is just a cage that is owned. Maybe you are correct in most sports to varying degrees, but that is probably a symptom of the evolution of a professional sport (ie it is not this way out of necessity, or out of it being the 'best' way - merely because it is the natural capitalist way). I could elaborate here but it is not worth me doing so because...

    Just because it is that way in other sports, it doesn't mean we must accept it in mma. I mean, hell this sport's barely been born - the direction it takes is not set in stone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    Why would say the UFC allow Tito Ortiz Vs Ken Shamrock fight on another company's card?
    They wouldn't, because they 'own' them. They could still own them with the system I suggest, just they would be ineligible for the 'real' belts - which they couldn't win anyway (imo) but also they would lose potential peer, fan, and pundit respect by not being NPO. Besides, UFC could bid low and still buy that fight over other companies lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    Also it wasn't a trick question. Dana, for all his faults, knows that without these other promotions the talent would dry up & therefore the UFC go out of business. So unless he's in it for a quick buck & can't see the point of killing the competition.
    Let's say that Dana is happy for all small promotions that start up to succeed (I’m not sure – he has tried to kill off at least one small promotion I know of). He certainly doesn't want more large ones, he wants to keep them in their place:

    Currently there are 2 big ones, Pride and UFC, with approximately equal levels of talent. Logically it follows that their 'world championship' belts are actually only 1/2 the truth (sometimes more, sometimes less in fans eyes like Fedor/Sylvia, but on average 1/2). Now if just one more promotion gets big, each belt is worth even less. We're then in boxing territory almost exactly, and there will be even less big fights and even less validity to each belt. Dana wishes to avoid this, although in fact it would be best for the sport (competition, more room for pro fighters, more fans, growth etc.) only thing is we would then need a single world belt in each division, and a single governing/match-making body (NPO).

    Anyways, this has mostly been tangents.... do you think my idea would be good, and do you think it could work?

    git.
    Last edited by Hypergit; 07-13-2006 at 11:26 PM.

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    In a utopian world yes the fighters would always get the best deal for the fight. Unfortunately companies like Pride, UFC etc sign up fighters based on how much revenue they will bring to the promotion & fighters sign for the guarenteed salary.

    Title belts don't always mean as much as a lot of people think. Frank Shamrock Vs Cesar Gracie & Royce Gracie Vs Matt Hughes sold the most seats in the US (so I believe), yet neither had a belt on the line.

    The are some promotions that are more fighter friendly (WFA for eg) but I cant think there'll ever be a time when promoters stop signing fighters on long term contracts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    In a utopian world yes the fighters would always get the best deal for the fight. Unfortunately companies like Pride, UFC etc sign up fighters based on how much revenue they will bring to the promotion & fighters sign for the guarenteed salary.
    I agree with what you say here, but I don’t think it needs to stay that way (with NPO, promoters would still be paying more for more revenue, just in a far fairer way for all). I mentioned a ‘snowball’ effect in my first post. What I meant was that a successful NPO launch would rapidly persuade the vast majority of fighters that NPO is better for their long term security as well as their general earnings & respect. Soon, very few would commit themselves to a single promotion, even though I’m sure the promoters would still try to tempt them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    Title belts don't always mean as much as a lot of people think. Frank Shamrock Vs Cesar Gracie & Royce Gracie Vs Matt Hughes sold the most seats in the US (so I believe), yet neither had a belt on the line.
    regarding Hughs vs Royce - after the November UFC, we will see that (kinda obviously) the fans would prefer elite match-ups/unifications.

    Regarding belt importance - if Chuck loses his belt to Babalu, would we still be desperate to see him fight Silva? Sure – it is an elite match-up thus would still break all records etc - but would it mean as much as with both belts on the line? Not imo. Having been starved of the possibility of bona fide world champions, perhaps we disregard how great it would be to have one champ per weight, ie. Title belts mean -more- than a lot of people think.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvin
    The are some promotions that are more fighter friendly (WFA for eg) but I cant think there'll ever be a time when promoters stop signing fighters on long term contracts.
    I also can’t see it happening. I’m sure there are reasons why no one would have the balls to attempt NPO, or why it wouldn’t work. We can’t explore those reasons and circumnavigate them without first stepping through such pessimism. It is clearly the ideal scenario for fans, fighters, the sport in general so, erm…, why not eh?

    git.
    Last edited by Hypergit; 07-15-2006 at 10:23 AM.

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    Before I finish on this subject I'd like to mention Matt Lindland.

    Matt Lindland was booked to fight at Cage Rage 16 & they advertised the fight with him being once a top contender at UFC an-all. His match was a big selling point with Cage Rage (a growing promotion). However a few weeks prior to fight night he bailed on them cos he got offered a better deal fighting in the US.

    I can't blame him from doing it cos he's got mouths to feed, but as Cage Rage used to sign up fights based on the honour of the fighters word they didn't have a leg to stand on. Now the are introducing legal contracts for their fighters.

    Anderson Silva was another of their fighters & was their World MW title holder. He has now signed to the UFC leaving them without one of their most exciting fightes & biggest draws.

    So with that said you can kind of understand why promoters use legal contracts to keep their assets (fighters) in house. It gives them & their fans a little bit more security.

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    This is one of my favorite debates in the short history of the new version of this forum. You two are doing an awesome job.

    "Anyways, this has mostly been tangents.... do you think my idea would be good, and do you think it could work?"

    Great idea, wouldn't work. It's hard to keep up with all the different tracks I got to cover in explaining it, and seeing your post-style I know I'm going to be quoted so I have to be careful what I say. I have a lot of questions between the differences in this NPO and a union, as your arguer pointed out. It seems pretty much the same to me.

    Anyways, UFC is in position to ignore an NPO, no matter how many "big-time" fighters join up with such an organization. They have several television and PPV outlets and as they're doing already, they could, and will-be regardless of this topic, building their own stars to avoid situations like this.

    Tim Sylvia can be their Heavyweight champion because as far as 90% of people in America aware of the sport knows, PRIDE's Heavyweight division or Fedor in particular don't exist. And to any new fan UFC gains along the way via television, PPV, or media - it will be the same for them.

    They'll let their Middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante go, their Lightweight champion Jens Pulver go, their biggest star in Tito Ortiz go, one of their best pound for pound fighters in B.J. Penn can hit the road. They control this thing.

    They get away with it because it's a new sport that has yet to be fully established. They can kind of tell people what to think. I mean, like Ivan Trembow was saying in his article I posted earlier (that I think this thread-starter replied to so he knows the reference) mainstream media outlets like the Boston Globe, New York Post or whoever they're all printing whatever Dana White or the UFC says. Why? They don't know any better. The mainstream world is just starting to get familiar with the sport. It'd actually be better to say the mainstream world is starting to realize this thing is a sport.

    Seems like I'm off topic, but my whole point is an NPO thing wouldn't work because UFC wouldn't have to comply with it. In their main market, they are mixed-martial arts. They are the sport. Just like NFL is football even though there's other leagues out there, UFC is mixed-martial arts. Until something like an NPO ...or UFC just decides on their own to treat their company like a sport with no flaws (I can't just say "sport" because all sports have their own corruptions) they pretty much control how this thing works. It's their way or the highway. We're pretty much here to eat what we're fed, and I don't see a lot anyone can do at this point to change it.
    Last edited by Matt Boone; 07-21-2006 at 01:38 AM.

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