Where Will The UFC Be In 7 Years?


The foundation to any sporting franchise’s success is the ability to draw large audiences and advertisers. In order to achieve this requires a clever marketing department, some large personalities, and dare I say a dash or two of exciting talent.

When the UFC signed a 750 million dollar deal with FOX, Dana described the deal as his proudest moment in UFC history.  All Dana needed to do in return was to continue providing exciting action packed bouts to viewers.

Maintaining marketable talent within the UFC has not always been an easy task. When Brock Lesnar sold 1.6 million PPVs at UFC 100, many believed that this human beast would reign for many more years to come until Diverticulitis reared its ugly head. It was a complete blow for the UFC, losing one of their most marketable fighters. It also appeared to trigger an epidemic of injuries including the sidelining of GSP and many others. It was almost as if a curse had been spelled.

Within the UFC, there are only a small number of fighters that can sell large PPV numbers. I like to think of these individuals as an endangered species led by Commander-In-Chief Georges St-Pierre.

Over the years, the number of PPV sales has been steadily declining and many of the lower weight classes have struggled to match the sales of their bigger brothers. The increasing number of events, new weight classes, and a slowing economy are just some of the theories being hurdled around. Dana has always said that it is not a simple task getting people to stay home on a Saturday night when so many other competing sports and activities are available to the consumer.

In house fighting over pay disputes has not helped either with Rampage Jackson being one of the bigger stars to leave the UFC based on irreconcilable differences. With all the challenges that the UFC faces, it was no surprise that the UFC finally went out and found some beautiful and talented athletes to build a women’s division.

The future of the UFC is solely dependent on recruiting talented and charismatic fighters that can promote the business and put on exciting fights.  By the time the new FOX deal is up for renewal in six years time a lot of the most marketable veterans will have retired. Some of the big names include:

Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Mark Hunt, Nogeuria brothers, Frank Mir, Rich Franklin, Cung Lee, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Chael Sonnen, Shogun Rua. Vitor Belfort, Michael Bisping, Chris Leben, Diaz brothers, Josh Koscheck. Benson Henderson, and even George St Pierre.  

The acquisition of Pride injected some ready made stars to the UFC however the fruits of that acquisition is quickly coming to an end.  Even The Ultimate Fighter Series which has been running for more seasons than I can count is becoming stagnant and predictable to many viewers.  It has been the star manufacturing plant for many years and its ongoing success is paramount to building the fan base.

The UFC truly have an uphill battle in keeping fans swiping their credit cards in an increasingly competitive market. UFC events are not cheap by any stretch with many fans parting with $250 or more just to see a single event. Some fans have even argued that cards are thinning out fast.

So fight fans, I have three questions for you.

Do you believe that the best days are now behind the UFC? Would you like to see the UFC host a hybrid promotion that includes boxing and MMA on the same card to inject some new life (Roy Jones vs. Anderson Silva)? And has the Ultimate Fighter Series run its course?

  • Sad as it is the loss of Brock and Fedor started the downfall of MMA.

    • Anyone remember the passion, heat and length of the threads of who was better or who would win Brock vs Fedor, mma was never bigger then.

    • You on crack man its bigger than ever right now.
      Any time the ufc does a card outside the states it gets massive numbers.

  • You raise some very interesting and material questions, 321.

    Although top-dog right now, in 7 years who knows whether or not the UFC will still be as such.

    I think their biggest obstacle to maintaining their dominance lays in paying the fighters more and dramatically lowering or preferably getting rid of, the PPV.

    In terms of embedding boxing or kick-boxing within a UFC card, I think it could be worth a shot, but only under very specific limits and guidelines and even then it might not work. The only reason to do so would be to add some difference to a card for current fans and to try and bring in new fans, which helps the UFC, but does nothing for fans who are already following the UFC / MMA.

    I know that I'm not interested in watching a punch, clinch, break-it-up, punch, clinch, break-it-up, boxing event, for that's why I stopped watching boxing. It began to bore the living daylights out of me.

    Boxers or even kick-boxers, would have to bring a great deal of excitement to the Octagon to please a (live) UFC crowd and I don't believe they would tolerate or continue to buy cards, which featured the same stuff they've been walking away from (in droves) for years.

    TUF – needs a kick in the pants and the production team that inherited it from SPIKE, seems to have no imagination (other than improved lighting) and have failed to do anything new and interesting with the show.

    So, no I don't think the UFC's best days are behind them, but there are options in the rear-view mirror for both fans and fighters and they (the UFC) needs to stop thinking that their future is guaranteed and need to (also) appreciate that the fighters are the business and that they need to be better cared for financially.

    Boxing…possibly. A Silva / Jones Jr. match would certainly be of interest to the fans on a card, but I'm not sure about other bouts, particularly ones featuring boxers that (UFC) fans have never heard of, before.

    TUF – needs to change something with its format. More focus on the training, the techniques taught and actually fighting, would be a vast improvement of a show that's (now mostly) about BS antics in a house.

    Great thought piece, man.

  • @Brian…Can you imagine a Canada without GSP, a Brazil without the spider. Big shoes to fill. I think a one off boxing event would be fun but I think its better to keep the two seperate and not break whats already working. I can't wait to see what type of monstors emerge over the next 6 years. But have you noticed how the most popular fighters can torment the hell of out Dana and there is nothing he can really do about it…Rampage, Tito, Diaz,Randy and many others have had beefs but Dana only cuts the ones he knows won't sell any PPV. He is only as good as the stars on his roster.

  • Some solid points of discussion @enjoylife321… to keep it short, the UFC has enough budget to invest in new concepts and with the sport growing rapidly (internationally) and the UFC now spreading their wings a lot more into Asia and Mexico for example, not to mention all the up and coming talent that has been training MMA since day 1.

    I'm pretty sure in the next few years to come new stars will emerge. It's already happening now. I also think that now that the UFC has some "reality show" competition, they will revamp TUF. Before Fight Master there was no other show directly competing with them, so the necessity to step it up wasn't really there. They took a big step by having women coach and putting both men and women in the house. I think that's the first of many changes we'll see in the next few TUF seasons.

    Also having TUF in different countries and putting them up against each other and working up to the point that TUF winners from different countries throw down in a tournament as DW hinted for the future, is promising. I think that will be a game changer.

    • good points experience….10 years ago noone really cared about MMA including Steven Seagal and with the explosion of gyms one would think that the talent pool will be growing compared to before.

  • The UFC will be just fine in seven years, probably even stronger than where it is today. The novelty of the sport is wearing off and with many more PPV's per year consumers are being more choosy about what they want to see. However, with that being said the growth of international markets is just getting started (U.K., Brazil, Canada, Mexico, etc.). The number of cards per year means that we will get to see individuals rise and fall much quicker than they used to. Silva and GSP are huge draws for the UFC because they were able to create an aura of invincibility. I single fighter (like Jon Jones) creates a huge amount of attention because in one year he was able to clean out all contenders and define himself as the man to beat, now people want to see his skill, or if he can be beat. I think that some of the countries listed above will also start to create fight leagues to sponsor homegrown local fighters. None of these promotions will compete with the UFC, essentially, the UFC is the major leagues and smaller promotions will continue to grow and cultivate talent for the UFC to harvest.

  • in 7 years the ufc will be super boring with an athlete dominant roster. by then all the old school exciting guys will have retired. and textbook zero personality guys like rory and michael mcdonald will be champs

    btw someone give this enjoylife a job already the guy seems to really want it

    • Thanks Griffin for the endorsement. Unfortunately i'm unable to write regularly for lowkick so I just throw up the odd article in my downtime.

    • Griffin…I whole-hardheartedly 2nd that motion.

      Enjoy is the best. He insightful, funny, respectful and a mast of statistics.

      TTBOMK, he's too busy with his education to reign havoc upon the MMA world with with opinion, as based on his significant MMA acumen. 🙁