The other day in an interview with “MMA Junkie” and on the topic of Bellator, UFC President Dana White was rather dismissive of the promotion, their new business partners Viacom / SPIKE and the products that they produce, which are namely “Bellator MMA” and a new reality show called, “Fight Master”.
Dana said of “SBV”, that they had a “me too” attitude and approach to the sport and were Johnny-come-latelies in promoting it. As such, they are in the business for the love of money and not the love of MMA and subsequently, will never be as good as the UFC at promoting it.
White’s opinions of the multi-billion dollar corporation and their move into the sport of MMA proved to be even more cavalier when White stated, matter-of-factly, that his competition was the NFL and the other big 3 sports, not Bellator. That SBV as an MMA entity and promotion were of no real consequence to his business model.
As it stands, that’s all well and true.
However, is it a foregone conclusion that the UFC is destined to have the whole of the MMA pie to itself or is Dana getting ahead of himself, here?
Viacom has a lot of money as well as brains behind it. It is also and easily, the larger of the two corporations. The new promotion brings with it a viable and credible brand (Bellator), presents it on TV free and in a simple round-robin format. Also, their opposite number to Dana White, Bjorn Rebney, is a bright, articulate, soft-spoken, professional business man with a passion for MMA.
As well, the collective has the added benefit of being able to draw upon the experience and expertise of the production team that first launched TUF; the successful results of which have been borne out in SBV’s new show, Fight Master.
All-in-all it seems like a pretty good poker hand that White is negating.
So here’s the question, what cards can SBV play given that it’s not that weak?
One card they could play would be to raise their purses on (both) their Bellator MMA and Fight Master events. Although 100k is a lot of money, it’s not “jump” money. I think if SBV raised the purses on both of their shows to half-a-million dollars that many of the UFCs best fighters, ones who are not making that kind of cash in the senior promotion, would leave and sign with SBV.
On the issue of money as a motivator, lest we forget that Jon Fitch averaged (roughly) 180K a year over 8 years and made (roughly) 1.3 million with the UFC, in doing so.
In light of those numbers and what else we know about fighter compensation in the UFC, my guess would be that a significant number of their roster would be interested in taking a shot at the SBV lotteries.
If SBV could woe enough of the UFC’s ranked fighters away from the promotion, then Dana would need to be worrying more about SBV than demonstrating to the big 4 that MMA has arrived and at their level.
What are your thoughts? Is Dana rolling out the victory cake too soon or do you think that the UFC has nothing to worry about regarding SBV?