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The difference between UFC & Bellator gambles? UFC’s cost them millions of dollars

By Zach Arnold | March 5, 2016

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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.

Topics: Bellator, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 16 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

16 Responses to “The difference between UFC & Bellator gambles? UFC’s cost them millions of dollars”

  1. Tradition Rules says:

    I was waiting for Miesha to go for what I call the Dominick Cruz take down…which was the the takedown she pulled off the won her the fight.

    I watched this whole analysis on youtube about hoe Cruz gets so many take downs…..the same one type, for the most part….and. he he sets it up with his footwork and strikes. Anyway, I was thinking that this would be the best way for Tate to take down the larger stronger Holmes. I wasn’t so surprised she won, but WAS shocked at how little the UFC promoted the co-main event.

    Oh, I get why Connor vs Nate got the main billing, for a few different reasons….they booked Connor to the moon, and they could keep it a fiver rounder, since the woman’s co-main event was a title fight, it would stay five rounds. But it seemed like a total after thought.

    Early into the first round, I thought Conner was going to loose, mainly because, *I FELT*, he was wasting too much energy doing fancy/flashy kicks. He even said post fight, he wasn’t efficient enough. Since RDA was not his opponent, did he not take the need to win seriously enough? Like now it didnt matter any more?

  2. King Famous says:

    I love weigh in day. That is when you see see what is what. Meisha has grown into a very tough champion who used great ring smarts when it came to her victory. Respect to both her and Holly who didn’t need the trash talk but put on a great fight.
    You could see on Connors face once he got in there. He bit off more than he could chew. Nate showed great hand timing, grit and straight up skill. Connor looked like a fish out of water on the ground against Nate. But what did you expect? Nate is a superb boxer and a bi black belt. That is the opponent you want your cash cow to fight just because he says he will fight anyone at any time?

  3. rst says:

    To be fair, Nate did seem like the safest option out of the options available if Conor would stay on the card.
    Pretty much every MMA journalist was picking Connor, and the peanut gallery who were picking againt him in the comment section just didn’t like him.

    Sure they could have played it safe and fenced off the golden goose, but thats not why I watch MMA. Although I agree this is not the outcome they were looking for, I dont think its necessarily a doomsday scenario.

    Connor took a unnecessarily dangerous fight and won the battle but lost the war. That showed guts and He landed a few punches of his own along the way. He’s got a few reasonable excuses to justify this loss. And he’s a hell of a talker. And he’s still 145 champion. They still have to take that away from him by force.

    • Zheroen says:

      > And he’s still 145 champion. They still have to take that away from him by force.

      I think it’s likely the fact that McGregor can no longer safely make 145 lbs. (especially with the IV ban) will probably result him vacating the belt and permanently going to LW anyway. Where his power clearly isn’t all that, since Nate Diaz (who is basically a LW) took his best punches.


    Its official, the great white hype has completely washed out. RR,CMc,PVZ,SN,HH, exposed crushed humbled.

    you know the Fertittas were laughing it up scheming to put “that stoner dude” in as a last minute replacement, thinking for sure he would be all stoned and lazy and get trashed by the great one. Who’s laffin’ now?

  5. klown says:

    I enjoyed both main events last night. Classic style match-ups, great fights, long live the rear naked choke.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    Who isn’t happy for Miesha Tate? She was smiling ear to ear while doing the post fight show on FS1. Many people counted her out from ever being a world champion (including myself) and she proved us wrong.

  7. David M says:

    Conor was as humble in defeat as anyone I’ve ever seen. I’m looking forward to seeing him decapitate Aldo again, or do the same to Frankie. I wrote some thoughts on the fight and the aftermath:


    UFC 200 “the rematch!!” 4 title fights 2,000,000 ppv buys

    Mac Gregor v Aldo II
    Diaz v Anjos II
    Holm v Tate II
    Lawler v Condit II
    Gus v Rumble II
    Hunt v Jr Dos santos or big ben II

    Bisping V Hendo II
    Cowboy V Alvarez II
    Diego V Pearson II
    Gomi V Lauzon II
    TBA v TBA
    TBA v TBA

    • DIAZ'S PACKED BOWL says:

      First two fights…
      Sage(if he can borrow the car that night) v Babareno II
      Id like to see things start off with a bang, so
      AA v Hapa II
      Mir v Duffee II

      All these fighters are available, a few might get knocked out and put on the shelf. Ufc should make as many of those matches now and swap the ones they can’t with a few filler fights with cheap fighters.

      Lawler v rda or nate is are stupid fights.
      No one wants to see that.
      People want to see Nate v rda, that’s what Connor said.
      Lawler v Nick later this year is the money fight.
      winner of tate v holm v RR is the money fight

  9. david m says:

    I am surprised they are doing Conor v Nate II, but I guess on paper it is the fight that will draw the highest buyrate. Frankie and Jose can’t draw, neither can Dos Anjos. If I were UFC though, I would be weary of this fight. Nate Diaz is now a legit star; he can main event a PPV against Lawler or RDA and it would do a decent buy rate. Conor similarly is a massive star, but if he loses two in a row, who knows if he will still be popular. Why not separate them into a Conor v Frankie fight for 145 title and a Diaz v RDA fight for the 155 title? If Conor and Diaz both win it sets up a rematch for 155 title, and if RDA beats Diaz, it sets up a fight between Conor and him for the 155 title. Just seems like a risky long-term proposition to put them against each other at this point.

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    Nate Diaz has bashed the idea of him fighting Conor for a second time. It has almost been universally panned by UFC fans who follow the sport.

    The fact that they haven’t announced it yet makes me think they are at least having some reserves about it.

    A good UFC 200 card would be….

    FW Title: Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar
    WBW Title: Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano
    LW Title: Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Nate Diaz
    Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne

    5th fight doesn’t matter at that point. This would be a stacked card that doesn’t have a “huge” fight but has a lot of star power and a lot of great match-ups. It will both sell well and keep the hardcore fans happy.

    • DIAZ'S PACKED BOWL says:

      Hunto is a must add to 200. He’s f’n awesome!
      Cat has been off the radar so that would be lame, holm v tate is the right $ fight. It would be sheer madness to risk the belt leaving the rr mt hh trinity!
      Diaz smashes Connor even worse
      Dos anjos smashes Alvarez
      holm v tate
      Hapa smashes cain
      hunt v overeem/dos santos/AA/Big ben/can

      Mousasi on the under card

      pretty good card so far…

      • DIAZ'S PACKED BOWL says:

        Looks like UFC has shot their wad already.200 is looking pretty run of the mill, so far. Hendricks Gastelum? Thats not good at all. 198 so far is a better card.

        Danas big plan was to have all the biggest draws on 200 like CM and RR v HH and connor to generate the big big $$$.
        But now its just Connor getting his as kicked by Diaz again.


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