By Zach Arnold | February 6, 2012
There are quite a few takeaways from this past weekend’s UFC event in Las Vegas… and they’ve already been debated ad nauseam online. One topic that hasn’t been discussed much is the fact that the Las Vegas shows are becoming more and more deserted on television for UFC undercard fights.
We know the prelim fights are a great source of content for UFC programming on the Fox family of networks. However, the whole point of having a prelim show is to sell PPVs. It doesn’t look very good if most of the seats that are on camera are empty and there isn’t an energetic crowd to cheer fighters. Yes, it’s every fighter’s dream in the States to fight for Zuffa but that doesn’t mean that it feels great to have maybe a couple of thousand people at most watching you in a huge arena.
Las Vegas crowds are notorious for not showing up to see all the fights. The same is often said for Los Angeles sports crowds showing up ‘fashionably late.’ However, the problem of having empty seats for a lot of fights is a trend that is recently growing for Zuffa. Look at the San Jose show last November. If the purpose of UFC being on Fox is to reach a new audience of sports fans, guess what — a lot of those fans will look at the fights with nobody watching and, if they are on the fence about ordering a show, probably will take a pass. If you’re a baseball fan, you’re more likely to stick with a game if there are 40,000 people in the stadium as opposed to a quarter-filled Dodger Stadium game. If you watch college football bowl games, you’re more likely to stick with a B-level bowl game if there’s at least 2/3rds of a crowd as opposed to the ridiculous amount of games that have maybe 30% capacity. It’s a visual turnoff. I don’t think having all the empty seats on camera serves Zuffa well.
Today, there’s news that UFC is going to have two shows within 45 days of each other in Las Vegas (late May and early July). Vegas is proving to be a very soft market now for the company. So, the question I posted online last night was this: how can they fix the problem of all the empty seats for the undercard fights? Excluding Fox using some sort of CGI magic to fool your eyes on screen and put imaginary people in seats, I don’t know if there is a solid answer.
Someone proposed to me the idea of treating the undercard and main cards like a baseball doubleheader. You have undercard tickets, main card tickets, and then a standard full-event ticket. The idea would be that you sell full event tickets and on the day of the show whatever seats you have unsold, you can sell undercard tickets at a discount. Once the undercard fights are done, those fans go out and you can open the seating back up for the rest of the ticketholders. It’s not a likely or workable solution but I can understand where the person is coming from.
Someone else suggested that fans who pay for cheaper tickets get moved down to the floor for the undercard fights in order to create a better appearance on camera. That, to me, doesn’t sound workable because high rollers will be coming in right before the main card starts wondering why the hell someone is in their floor seat.
All I know is that the more Vegas shows UFC runs, the more empty seats they’re going to have to contend with. It doesn’t make UFC or the casinos paying the site fees look great from an image perspective.
I am completely amazed at how much acrimony there is on both sides of the coin for the outcome of the Nick Diaz/Carlos Condit fight. I’m sure UFC is not thrilled with Condit winning and they’re even less-thrilled that he did it using a point-fighting strategy. Instead of people wanting to see Condit vs. GSP and being enthusiastic about that fight, I sure don’t feel much excitement for that fight coming at the end of this year, do you?
I do agree with a few writers who pointed out on Twitter that there is an odd, quirky behavioral pattern for MMA fans who want everyone to look at UFC as a sport but yet feel the need to punish a fighter for performing like an athlete would with a smart game plan as opposed to just ‘putting on a good show.’
Question: How much did Carlos Condit decrease the amount of interest for his upcoming fight against GSP in your mind? (1-10 scale, plus give me your reasoning.)
The last takeaway from UFC 143 is that Josh Koscheck has split from American Kickboxing Academy.
(You can click on the links down below to find out more on why he left the team.)
The way UFC has booked the Welterweight division, it is a mess. Johny Hendricks blasted Jon Fitch into oblivion. Josh Koscheck didn’t look great against Mike Pierce. In fact, so much so that Dana proclaimed that Pierce won the fight. You have Jake Ellenberg vs. Diego Sanchez coming up in a week and, should Ellenberger win that fight, he is the next man up to face Carlos Condit or the Condit/GSP winner.
Who does Josh Koscheck face next? Jon Fitch? Nick Diaz?
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This week’s MMA Link Club featured stories
Five Ounces of Pain: Ronda Rousey trashes Carlos Condit’s fight performance against Nick Diaz
She does love her some Nick Diaz and MMA’s bad boys.
Judging by Nick Diaz’s reaction to his unanimous decision loss to Carlos Condit at UFC 143, you’d have thought he’d just been robbed on live TV. You’d have thought he’d returned home to find that judge Cecil Peoples had made off with all his most prized possessions, from his road bike to his Tupac CDs. You definitely wouldn’t have thought that he’d merely lost a close decision in a close fight, though that’s exactly what happened.
“I don’t think the judges like Nick,” he said. “He comes off, he talks in the ring… Carlos was running at one point, and Nick slapped him in the face said, ‘Quit running.’ We were there for a dogfight. Carlos said he’d provide for the fans a dogfight, a great fight where they were going to go at it. That was not a dogfight. It takes two to make a dogfight. One guy running away is not a dogfight.
MMA Mania: GSP is a -350 favorite to beat Carlos Condit
And I’ve got the odds of this fight going to a decision as a PICK ‘EM and the over/under for PPV buys at 600,000 because of the sour taste in the mouths of a lot of fans after UFC 143.
I don’t blame Greg Jackson & Carlos Condit for their game plan, either, but it’s about as friendly as watching the old school New Jersey Devils trap-scheme from the 90s.
5th Round: Cyborg divorces her husband
Bleacher Report: Was Carlos Condit’s run from Nick Diaz bad for the sport?
Make no mistake—Condit’s performance was masterful. Diaz is a fighting machine, an angry man who pursues you to the bitter end. At that end, he was still coming after Condit like it was the first round. Carlos matched Diaz’s cardio and passion with his own. It was amazing to behold. But it’s hard to call what Condit did “fighting.”
Middle Easy: 27 times a champion — Renato Laranja’s greatest hits
He don’t want no heefer. Only the devil does!
The Fight Nerd: War Machine heads back to the slammer
MMA Payout: Rampage Jackson enters the phone app market
So, that’s what he’s up to… because ever since that loss to Jon Jones, it’s as if UFC has decided that he’s in a witness relocation program and can’t be promoted for his upcoming fight in two weeks.