By Zach Arnold | June 30, 2009
1) Their new magazine
MMA Payout notes that UFC’s mailing list, combined with Men’s Fitness customer database, will be the backbone for launching and developing a customer list for their own magazine.
Prediction: UFC will develop a magazine that is oriented for the general public, not for hardcore fans. The company won’t go after other magazines who interview fighters since UFC would likely consider it free PR. As far as whether the magazine makes a profit, I don’t think it matters — as long as UFC can generate enough press coverage through their own means without spending too much money, it’s a win-win situation for them.
2) Dana White’s on-again, off-again infatuation with Vitor Belfort
He said on YouTube the day after he got Kimbo at the TUF 10 tapings that he was in Los Angeles for a meeting that would change the world. Then he said on the UFC web site that he wanted Vitor Belfort, despite Belfort being under contract. Tampering charges? How reckless was this? White’s now saying publicly that he has no interest in Belfort.
Prediction: If Affliction 3 bombs, my opinion is that Atencio considers filing a lawsuit and ending up with a settlement. This story also illustrates that not only is White still unfiltered (think: Youtube incident, Vitor issues, the whole issues with the video game), but that the company’s legal team doesn’t give a damn. They don’t exactly have Jerry McDevitt in their corner, however.
The mood with UFC, as demonstrated with the Jon Fitch video game situation, does seem reflective on how Lorenzo Fertitta operates — good and bad — as we’ve seen with the way Station Casinos was handled when it went from private to public and now back to private, along with the various union fights that have existed with SC.
3) Continuing fights against sponsors
It’s insanity. No other major league sport has gotten into as many fights so quickly (as I can recall) than UFC has with sponsors. As I stated before, all of this reeks of divide-and-conquer politics at its worst. Why is this penny-wise and pound foolish? What’s attracting new talent to MMA is money. Fighters are coming in because they sense they can make a career in this sport. If you start taking money directly away from fighters because you’re cheap or because you want 100% control over the athletes, then guess what will start happening? People will start leaving the business or not consider getting into it. As we’ve seen in Japan, when the money dries up so does the big-league talent pool.
Prediction: UFC will continue to push away or blacklist sponsors at an alarming rate. It will not catch up with them right now, but in a couple of years the organization will find itself developing so many enemies that UFC will find the people they shunned aligning with opposition groups. I also predict that if a slowdown in sponsorship money continues that there will not be as many blue-chip prospects coming down the road, despite the fact that the reason most people want to fight in UFC has more to do with fame than money.
UFC already has the best of all worlds — they have fighters as independent contractors and not employees, they don’t pay fighters outside of whenever the athlete fights, and they approve/disapprove of sponsors. It’s not a crime to make a profit, but it’s bad business when you become too cheap and it starts to negatively impact who wants to be in MMA and who doesn’t. If you assume people make rational economic decisions in terms of employment, then drying up how much money a fighter can make certainly will impact who stays and who goes.