By Zach Arnold | March 5, 2016
You could not have dreamed up of a costlier scenario for UFC. They got schlonged the hard way and created this matchmaking disaster by maximizing risk and minimizing Return on Investment.
Nate Diaz submitting Conor McGregor. Talk about a Pyrrhic victory. UFC management may be gleeful that McGregor was taken down and had his dreams of boxing-style business dealings shattered but look what it just cost them in the long run. The cherry on top of this sundae is that the Diaz Brothers once again have real power in the sport of MMA. The greatest MMA characters in the history of Western Civilization and giant pain in the asses for Zuffa to deal with. I love it.
Instead of protecting McGregor and canceling his fight due to RDA’s injury, they pressed on with the PPV because they didn’t want to cancel. They booked McGregor against a naturally bigger fighter. Amazing.
If that gamble wasn’t one-sided for you, Dana White swore on his family that he would not book Holly Holm in a match other than a re-match with Ronda Rousey. Instead, Holm’s camp wanted to fight and Ronda needed a longer-than-expected break. Result? Book a “safe” fight with Miesha Tate and half-ass the promotion of it. The result? Miesha won the title and now UFC is chasing its own tail trying to figure out what to do next.
Buster Douglas trended on Twitter after both Conor & Holly lost. Buster Douglas is permanently etched in the minds of every sports fan some 26 years later. Holly losing was *very* bad for her but not a doomsday scenario for UFC given Miesha’s popularity and marketability. Conor McGregor is a doomsday scenario, however.
Neither of these risks by UFC management were necessary but they took them anyways and tactically backed themselves into a corner. Compare this strategy to what we’ve recently seen in Bellator.
Bellator has been booking MMA legends fights. They’ve booked freak show fights. Kimbo Slice is as big of a draw in 2016 as he ever was during the Gary Shaw days. Shamrock vs. Royce was miserable and Kimbo vs. Dada was historic for all the wrong reasons, including Dada’s post-fight hospitalization. But there were no titles at stake. It was simply booking fun fights. The risk was either extreme entertainment or embarrassment.
Bellator just signed Wanderlei Silva to a contract. Right before Bellator announced this signing, there was talk about Wanderlei showing up for the April RIZING event. The talk? About RIZIN promoting an MMA Legends series. Very similar to Bellator. With Wanderlei still on suspension from Nevada, it’s likely that he will fight in RIZIN sooner rather than later. The idea of an MMA Legends series sounds fun on paper but awful in execution. There are risks in promoting this concept but they are not multi-million arbitrary short-sighted risks like UFC is often wont to do. There’s a time for taking risks but the risks UFC often takes are real head-scratchers.
Best case scenario for UFC with the women’s title? Ronda Rousey (Hulk Hogan) losing to Holly Holm (Ultimate Warrior) losing to Miesha Tate (Sgt. Slaughter), with Rousey vs. Tate now having a shiny new angle to another re-match.
UFC was also trending for the wrong reasons after the McGregor fight. Mainly, Floyd Mayweather was trending because of another UFC/media-concocted storyline about a McGregor/Money fight. They deserve the scorn they are receiving online right now.