We were all privy to last weeks ABC episode of the Wide World of Sports featuring Kimbo Slice, Dada 5000, Royce Gracie, and Ken Shamrock. Some say it was a debacle, however 2 million people around the world tuned in to watch that debacle. I must say at the very least, we were very entertained. Nevertheless, that does not stop the critics from complaining about Bellator putting these types of fights together and accusing Bellator’s matchmakers of making a mockery of the sport.
With the top 3 MMA promotions holding steady at 1. UFC, 2. Bellator, 3. WSOF, can UFC hold steady at number one with its current format? Bellator MMA President, Scott Coker has an out of the box, creative ability for lining up interesting fights. On the other side of the spectrum, WSOF President, Ray Sefo, has a slew of top ranked fighters. Is it possible for the UFC to lose their position as the top dog in the yard, losing their grip on the entertainment value of the sport.
The UFC has put great emphasis on titles and title holders. Conor McGregor, the UFC’s “go to man”, devalued the UFC’s 145, 155, and 170 lb titles at their PPV event presser late last week, when he said “I don’t give a F*ck about the titles, I’m going to make the McGregor Title”. In addition, McGregor was asked about fighting UFC 155 lb champion Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 200. His response was even more neglectful of the crown, saying “it’s hard to commit to Dos Anjos…we will see how it plays out”. McGregor systematically made himself more important than the title holder. Even Floyd “Money” Mayweather, puts emphasis on titles. This may have been a big mistake by McGregor and the UFC.
Next we come to the UFC’s assumption that McGregor will be the first to hold and defend two different titles in two weight classes. BREAKING NEWS…IT’S BEEN DONE. World Series of Fighting’s 185 and 205 lb. belt has been held by Renzo Gracie Black Belt, David Branch. After taking time off after winning the 205 lb title, Branch will most likely push to stay busy the next few months to prove his worth at the top of the MMA food chain. The Middleweight and Lightweight Champion has not lost since May of 2012, when he dropped a unanimous decision to current UFC light heavyweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Branch is now on a 7 fight win streak, finishing 4 of his last 7 opponents. Hence, Branch will be making history when he defends both titles later this year. Raising the value of himself, the titles, and the WSOF.
Lastly, with a ton of MMA fighters coming to the end of their contracts, it will be a free for all for whichever promoter wants to spend. Both Bellator and WSOF have open sponsorship and allow their fighters to fight on other cards in other competitions. The UFC may have backed themselves into a corner–with their current Reebok deal, Dana White’s failure to work with other promotions, and the overwhelming attention the UFC is giving Conor McGregor. The promotion is ignoring loyal company men who have represented their promotion well for many years. How long will this stay status quo?