WHAT’S NEXT FOR MMA?
With the folding of EliteXC, we check in with resident MMA expert Don Abato for his take on what happened, and what comes next in the world of MMA.
1. Is this good for Dream, Affliction, etc?
It’s good for Dream and Affliction if by good you mean dish out a ton of money for some big name who isn’t a lock to be dominant in your show to begin with. I’m pretty sure Dream and especially Affliction would love to add another high priced person to the pot when revenue, ppv buys and ratings aren’t coming in.
Outside of one maybe two personalities, EliteXC really doesn’t have a fighter who can be considered elite level.
I’ve been saving this one just for Zoner, Dream is almost a nightmare in Japan. Tito Ortiz and his ridiculous contract are just what they need. Hey, Wall Street shouldn’t be the only institution to eff-up financially, corporate MMA should join in the fun too.
In the case of Affliction, you can’t even consider it a full blown promotion till VP Tom Atencio actually get another show under his belt. Till that happens, call them “Deflection” instead because they keep redirecting the date of the sophmore effort.t
The benefactor could be, and I hear the evil laugh coming from Zuffa HQ in Vegas, The Ultimate Fighting Championship! This is the picture right now, a roster of free agents roaming a landscape where there aren’t too many options and just one big house, the U-effing-C. Dana gets his pick of the bunch, and said fighter comes for a bargain. Remember, EliteXC has no, I repeat NO superstar personalities and a handful of top ten fighters. The market sucks, and Dream and Affliction aren’t in positions to toss around a lot of money to ring in a lot of new recognizable names.
2. What happens to the stable of fighters? Does Kimbo take a big paycut? Does Gina just fight in Strikeforce? Will guys like Lawler and Nick Diaz go back to UFC? Head overseas?
Get a lawyer dude. It will be a case by case basis depending on the contract. Keep this in mind, EliteXC has several UFC castoffs and the “brawl” company isn’t in the business of overpaying for talent not possessing the last names of Liddell, Silva, Couture, St. Pierre, Penn, etc. There is probably no one outside of Jake Shields on the radar for the biggest promotion in the universe. The question is actually what are folks like Tito Ortiz, Roger Huerta and Brandon Vera going to do once their deals with UFC run out? Or in the case of Tito Ortiz, who can he con into a multi-million dollar guaranteed deal?
Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler, despite decent exposure on network television, aren’t locks for the “U” either. Dana White is “Hater” number one when it comes to Nick’s vulgarfests. Lawler isn’t as big as he should be. Sure he’s the champion, but despite his exciting style he didn’t grab the imagination of casual fans with his performances in May and July. Robbie wouldn’t really energize the middleweight division because it’s not a given he can get by the Dan Hendersons and Nate Marquardts of the world.
Strikeforce benefits to gain the most. It’s not a competitor of the UFC since the focus in on the West Coast region. Lawler and Diaz bolster weight divisions where there’s a need for challengers to Cung Le(185) and Josh Thompson(155). Everyone expects Gina Carano to come back and fight for the San Jose based promotion, which could really bolster its national popularity. But they gotta get her some meaningful competition, and it isn’t there right now.
Who’s Kimbo, his 15 minutes ran out several hours ago? He has become a liability and I think the sport of MMA is ready to wash its hands of him. Fact is he’s damaged goods and brings a cageful of problems that just isn’t worth the time. The Japanese are crazy enough to invest in sideshows, let him become their problem. The next Bob Sapp he very well could be.
He’d probably follow a lot of his fellow castoffs. Lightweight Eddie Alvarez is a hot comodity in Dreams, and Joey Villasenor, Ninja Rua, Paul Daley, Malaipet and James Thompson and many othersr have international experience or made their names outside of the US. Going across the pond or the Pacific is likely the top option for most of Elite’s roster.
3. Will anyone else dare step up to challenege the UFC ever again?
Better question: CAN anyone challenge the UFC? Right now Strikeforce has the correct business plan: grow the brand andfanbase regionally and promote the right kinds of fighters. It’s the model Monte Cox is trying to follow with his Adrenaline MMA organization. Forgot about them didn’t you. Strikeforce isn’t trying to compete with UFC, instead it’s focusing on itself.
4. How did they lose so much money when they were on both cable and broadcast TV?
How cool would it be if ProElite, the company behind EliteXC, could lobby and get a bailout package from Capitol Hill? After all, ProElite is based in LA and California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House. But Congress can’t help every idiot who makes some pretty liberal spending mistakes. I mean c’mon, they went on a MMA spending spree buying King of the Cage, Cage Rage, ICON Sport and Spirit FC(did I miss any). They dug themselves into a $55 million dollar hole. Last I heard CBS paid nothing close to that figure when bring the show onto its airwaves. Jeremy Lappen, Gary Shaw and his kid pretty much tossed all the money out of the window. Good job on that by the way.
Being on TV isn’t enough. Allow me to put on my consultant hat (everbody loves consultants) as I preach, but they failed in building the “brand” of EliteXC despite network exposure. First, the production of the three shows was inconsistent. It went from spectacle and over the top pageantry to dry and lacking energy. They basically gave an exit for fringe viewers in the July show. Second, horrible advertising campaigns. Third, and most important, investing in the wrong people. The face of the company was a scam artist. The result, a fighting organization deep in the hole financially and under scrutiny that has the entire sport under the microscope with few positive memories on a list of infamous events threatening the credibility of the sport. Would you buy stock in ProElite Inc. (PELE.PK) knowing how deficient the decision-making is?
MMA companies cannot and should not be publicly traded, they need a single brain or team of MMA-literate people interested in the sport and its athletes first and money second. If you aren’t pushing the growth of the sport and taking care of what makes it go (people) then you’re asking for failure. Boxing and wrestling promoters and venture businessmen only see an untapped industry with lots of potential and unmade millions. Newsflash, MMA isn’t a simple sport to understand so you have to ensure you’re running a quality operation with dedicated brand-building. EliteXC did neither, instead deciding to play up the spectacle angle and over-the-top packaging. All they produced was window dressing without educating the masses.
Sure, UFC cares about the brand first, but Dana White understands you have to have exciting matchmaking and give the fans the fights they want to see. He also understands you get behind the right types of athletes who will usually bring positive attention. Bring up Rampage’s rampage or Sean Sherk’s steroid scandal, but he understands no sport is immune to scandal. At least Dana cares about responsible branding. What kind of an idiot tries to put all its marbles behind a street thug who is the embodiment of everything the superior MMA combat athlete is not.
The result, people walk away with images of James Thompson’s exploding ear, King Kimbo giving the country a big letdown in his network debut performance, Gina Carano’s pretty face, and the Kimbo fight that inspires chants of “fixed fight” from the mainstream media. Can you honestly tell me anyone walked away with a better understanding of the submission game or the knowledge to indentify the basic techniques and which disciplines/fighting arts they came from? Or did we get a couple quick bucks? Good job on that.
5. Will the public miss MMA on network television?
No! Neither will the network execs. And to all the baseball talking-football handicapping-basketball adoring tunnel-visioned mainstream sports media… that’s just the way they like it. And the Summer Redstones of the world walk around with their heads held high and snootier attitudes because they knew this was wrong and would tank all along, further supporting why they are so smart and we’re all stupid.
I just want to thank all involved parties for the great representation and introduction of the sport of mixed martial arts to the mainstream public.
[tags]UFC, EliteXC, Strikeforce, Dream, Affliction, Adrenaline MMA, MMA, Dana White, Jared Shaw, Kimbo Slice, Tito Ortiz, Roger Huerta, Brandon Vera, Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, CBS[/tags]