*Blog courtesy of MMA Recruiter*
In 2005, the MMA rocket took off and has been cruising ever since, getting faster and faster each year. In 2008, we all thought ‘how is the sport going to have a better year than this?!’ In 2009, we thought the same. As 2010 winds down, it’s only natural we look to 2011 and ponder what’s in store for MMA.
One thing to take note of is the improvements the sport needs to make in order to reach the next level of mainstream acceptance. As MMA, and the UFC in particular, reach unprecedented levels of success, the holes in its game become more apparent.
I racked my brain for the most important changes that need to be made and three immediately came to mine.
1. The UFC Needs A US National Television Deal
MMA has been seen on US national television before and, with the exception of the Fedor-Rogers event, it was a bust. Initially, we saw the ultra controversial reign of Kimbo Slice in Elite XC. Then on to Strikeforce, where we were treated to the infamous “Nashville Brawl,” which no one knew how to handle.
It was great to have MMA seen on that kind of platform and, like I said, the Fedor-Rogers event was fantastic. However, the promotions that hosted these events came off looking very jumbled and unaware of how to handle the responsibility.For someone who had never seen an MMA event before, the Elite XC/Strikfeforce shows would have come across as quite puzzling.
The UFC knows how to present television. They have had years and years to get into the groove they are now in. Whether or not you enjoy the fights of a particular card, one can never question how they are presented.
It’s been long rumored that Dana & Co. have been trying to secure a national television deal. If so, they need to hop on it. The sport is swelling, and this period of enhanced interest needs to be taken advantage of.
CBS didn’t quite know what to expect with MMA (credit them for taking the risk) and what they got was questionable content. If CBS or NBC gave the UFC the green light, the material they would received would exceed their needs. There is no scenario where it wouldn’t be a huge step up for the sport.
2. Dana White Needs to Relax
It may seem like I was trying to bury Elite XC/Strikeforce in my prior point, but that certainly isn’t the case. Strikeforce, Bellator, etc. are very much needed for the sport to continue to grow. Dana White doesn’t seem to, or doesn’t want us to know that he does, understand this.
Any business needs competition to make them strive to be better. Any sport needs different tiers of competition. Hockey isn’t just the NHL, football isn’t just the NFL, baseball isn’t just the MLB. You see where I am going. Unless Dana wants to go Vince McMahon on MMA before it even peaks, he needs to see the Bellators and Strikeforces for what they are – the minor leagues. Guys like Scott Coker is are sharp; they know their brand is the minor leagues and would never try to go head-to-head or dollar-for-dollar with the UFC. They’ll stick with perfecting their product.
For Dana to go out on a consistent basis and blast the lower tier promotions does nothing but hurt his image, and the sport overall. Chalk it up to his fear of MMA becoming the murky cloud of titles and rankings that boxing turned into or just his desire to be the unquestionable ruler of the world, but Dana White is hell-bent on the UFC being the be-all end-all. Mr. White needs to just chill and realize that these kinds of things are inevitable and that no one is going to come close to touching the UFC. The UFC is the ‘big time’ but MMA needs its minor leagues.
Also, while we’re on the topic… Dana, please quit blasting The Reem.
3. Judging Reform
I didn’t think I could have been more peeved with a decision than when Melvin Guillard was erroneously awarded a victory over Jeremy Stephens in September. I was wrong, very wrong. We all know what happened with Nam Phan and Leonard Garcia… I don’t ever condone wasting a beer by throwing it at your television. But… I did that night.
There isn’t much more to say about this issue. It seems damn near every fan, fighter, and corporate big-wig has been campaigning for serious change in MMA judging. Will it happen? The eight ball says: Outlook not so good.
As an MMA fan, and an aspiring MMA journalist, I have enjoyed the ride we went on in 2010. While there are changes that need to be made, the sport of MMA continues to improve and bring us the purest athletic competition on Earth.
2011, here’s to you!