It’s hardly a secret in the MMA world that the UFC is off to an incredibly rough start in the first four months of 2017.
Last weekend’s UFC on FOX 24 showed some signs of a turnaround as the best card of the year thus far, but even that packed, exciting event needed a late rally to avoid becoming the lowest-rated FOX-aired UFC event of all-time. Many blamed a lack of effective promotion, but regardless of a reason, a huge opportunity was missed at a time when the sport needed a shot-in-the-arm type of card.
Add that to the fact that the promotion overbooked the last few months of last year, and you have a messy situation where new owners WME-IMG are attempting to implement a still-developing strategy without much – if any – true top-level star power behind it, the one thing that drove the promotion to its biggest ever year last year.
All of the aspects working against WME seem to be coming to a head right as they’ve attempted to cut costs drastically by laying off fighters and employees, and it has obviously made them look like they don’t know what they’re doing. Whether it’s the often-criticized Reebok deal, hiccups with USADA, or just the strange booking strategy that seems to favor so-called ‘money fights’ like the upcoming Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre middleweight title fight, it’s clear the new owners have a lot of work to do to continue the success of the Fertitta brothers.
Their insistence to cut fighter costs and pay them a low wage after they let the cat out of the bag by paying $4.2 billion for the company will be an ongoing struggle for them, and it’s clear that their new strategy – or lack thereof – has taken the wind out of the sails of many an MMA fan in the early days of this year.
What do you think? Do you still love the UFC like you used to, and do you think WME will be able to turn it around?