UFC 205 finally took shape last week, as the stars of the promotion align in New York. November 12 will see a historic event in Madison Square Gardens, the iconic venue which has played host to so many great shows over the years. This is set to be a huge event for the UFC, as they front the new era of MMA in NYC. After years of battling against the state, the UFC and mixed martial arts as a whole scored a crucial victory this year. It’s no surprise that a lightweight title fight featuring the champion against the UFC’ biggest current star is the main event in the Big Apple.
There’s a whole lot more at stake than what meets the eye at UFC 205, though. Obviously making a good impression in New York is key, but the future of the sport potentially hangs in the balance of the main event. Money or rankings? That’s a very potent question that’s arisen frequently in recent months. When entertainment is held over perceived ‘legitimacy’ in the rankings, is MMA a sport? Let’s be honest, we know it’s not the Olympics, but many fans have been discussing how the sport is now becoming more like pro wrestling.
Money Makes The World Go Round
The UFC being a privately owned business means one thing will take primacy over every aspect–the bottom line. It’s just a fact, that’s not a slur on the promotion, but its basic business. The pairing of UFC featherweight champion against Eddie Alvarez for the 155-pound belt speaks volumes about the UFC’s future intent. Straying away from the rankings for a few fights here and there might not seem like a needle moving decision, but truly, it absolutely is.
McGregor’s last two fights, one win and one loss against Nate Diaz, sparked massive debate about his keeping of the 145-pound strap. Finally, when the dust had temporarily settled on the beef with Diaz, it was widely assumed that McGregor would face interim champion Jose Aldo for a rematch at UFC 205. You know what they say about assumptions. Instead the money fight was selected, whether you agree with the base motive or not, it’s still a great fight. That said, and as previously mentioned, it holds massive ramifications.
What happens if Conor McGregor beats Eddie Alvarez? Here’s a few speculations…
Rankings in The Bin
Hold your horses, we aren’t predicting an immediate abolishing of the official UFC rankings. That said, most pivotal moments in history are made up of multiple and much smaller catalysts. Although it may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, McGregor’s attempt to become the first ever two-belt (at the same time) champion holds a lot of weight.
Once it’s set in stone that the rankings mean nothing, and let’s be frank–they are reasonably pointless already, the original intent of making MMA compete with NBA, NFL etc. is gone. When you consider that guys like CM Punk can literally walk in to a UFC fight present day, imagine what it would be like if only big talkers and celebrities were to fight in the UFC. OK, so it’s a little dystopian, but you get the point.
McGregor Makes The World Go Round
Further in to the rabbit hole we go, and don’t take the heading as literal. Picture this-the biggest MMA promotion that is essentially run by the fighters. This is great in some respects, and terrible in others. The athletes themselves calling the shots ala-Conor McGregor could lead to those big paydays that a lot of guys deserve. At the bottom end of that possibility is the talented fighters who aren’t also outspoken or theatrical.
Say goodbye to your Jose Aldo’s and Frankie Edgar’s, the future of the UFC could literally look like the cast of a reality show with Reebok fight kits on.
Free For All
There’s been a whole lot of debate about MMA against other sports lately, in particular boxing. Seeing as money is the main motivation, and intrigue means eyeballs means $$$, cross promotion could well be a possibility. Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor? Sure, why not, let’s remodel this whole game so that it literally revolves around one gigantic ball of dollar bills. Then again, what if we were already deep in to the era of money fights, and we didn’t know it yet?
The more things change, the more they stay the same
Essentially unravelling most of the arguments in this article, that one simple statement does make sense. Hey, we know money is the foundation of all things business, but in sport can’t we have the best of both worlds? Well, yes and no. When exceptions are made for guys like McGregor, can the UFC justify not making them for everyone else? It’s an extremely tough argument to make for either side, and one that might never be resolved. For now, let’s enjoy the huge UFC 205 main event that’s coming up, and hope the fallout doesn’t lead to more (interim) champions and top contenders quitting the sport.