White's reaction could determine MMA's future
Dana White may be the man most responsible for the meteoric growth of the UFC. It has a national television contract, it does ever-larger pay-per-view sales, it routinely sells out major venues and it has one of the most passionate fan bases in sports.
Much of that is due to White's grit, guile and cunning.
But White, the UFC president, has a challenge before him, the likes of which he has never faced in his seven years at the helm of the world's most successful mixed martial arts promotional company.
Though White hardly seemed upset by UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture's announcement Thursday that he is retiring as a professional fighter and severing all ties with the company, how he handles the situation will determine whether the company will continue its rocket-like ascent toward mainstream acceptance or whether it will return to the netherworld of niche sports status............
I am absolutely sickened by what's been going on. I have the sick, desperate, fearful feeling deep in my gut that tells me something really bad is going to happen.
Couture has already left, and I don't blame him. He is 44, and the only logical fight for him IS Fedor. Fedor signed w/another company, so Couture has no reason to stay, and adding to that decision is the lack of respect and pay, which I also understand. However, he can't go to the org in Russia and fight Fedor because he's still under contract with the UFC. It doesn't matter if he quit. There's a (i would guess, any halfway smart business person would have this in their contracts) non-compete clause that doesn't allow Couture, or any other UFC fighter for that matter, fight somewhere else while they're still under contract. When that contract is up, he'll be free to go. I've heard it was 9 months, and I've heard it was longer. I have no idea when the contract will be up.
The UFC could afford to pay their fighters more. They're making a fortune in PPV sales, and the fighters definately deserve more, they're the whole reason we all watch this great sport. If they don't start respecting the fighters more, many more will leave.
In the UFC's defense though, Couture did sign that contract. He didn't seem to have a problem with it then. Many fighters feel blessed to have an opportunity to fight at that high of level, and on national television (on ppv and reruns on spike). They're paid enough that they can make a good living at fighting, and possibly running a school/training center outside of fighting.
If things don't start changing, many more fighters will leave the UFC. True, Pride paid some fighters better, but they also went under, and many fighters have stated that Pride didn't treat them well, at all. However, a good business person, and say what you want to about Dana White, but he is a good business person, could easily afford to pay fighters more, and still be reaping vast amounts of money. The popularity is still continuing to grow at an unbelieveable pace, and more and more people are starting to buy the PPV's and go to the events, and buy UFC gear.
For some reason though, I think something bad is going to happen. Besides the bad news of Fedor not coming to the UFC, and now this news with Couture, I think more will follow, and that pisses me off. There's no sense in this. Pay them more!! Things are going to go back to the way they were: "I wonder what would happen if this person would fight that person." And we'll probably never know.
I agree! i said it already, It looks like the UFC is in self destruct mode. They have the resources to really take care of thier fighters and secure theyre place on top of the game for a long time. And by doing so they would help MMA all over North America prosper, but they just arnt doing it.
I think people are letting this get way out of hand.
If the UFC does self destruct, which I think is almost impossible at this point, it would be because of the fans, and the fans only.
Fighters come and go.
Couture is one of the most popular fighters in MMA history, but is his retirement actually going to get any fans to NOT watch?
The fighters complaining about their salaries...were they forced at gunpoint to sign their contracts?
They used their brain to make the choice to sign their contract...then they moan about it later.
I have seen the "supposed" pay of UFC fighters and some of them get nothing...$2,000 to $4,000 per fight. That is pretty sickening in the face of how big the UFC has become and home much money they make.
That problem can and WILL be solved eventually. When enough fighters DON'T sign the "meager" contracts...you will see their pay start to rise.
That is the reason I say the UFC's own fans are the only ones who can destroy the UFC. I don't believe the fans will stop getting their monthly PPV, or stop buying the DVDs, or stop watching The Ultimate Fighter, UFC Unleashed, UFC Wired or The Ultimate Fight Nights and Finales.
Focus on the positive and positive things will happen, focus on the negative and we may lose something we have waited so long for and fought so hard for. By the way I live in a state where there is no MMA allowed, due to the state athletic commission and state legislators.
Maybe we as fans know too much about the inner workings and happenings of our favorite stars and heroes. Maybe we shouldn't be so "included" in those inner workings.
We need to support the UFC. Most of the problems should work themselves out, but only if we as fans continue to support the UFC through thick and thin...AS WE DID IN THE PAST. Without that past support the UFC wouldn't be where it is today.
I have been a fan since day 1.
I have gotten every UFC PPV that has been available to me (back in the "banned" days NY state wasn't allowed to see about 10 of the PPVs).
I have supported them through thick and thin and I will continue to do so.
I would hope you all do as well.
I will always support the UFC no matter what.However,as a fan I'm partialy responsible for that "big" return they have recieved.While I want MMA to be huge,I don't want it to be plaqued with the same BS that has popped up in other sports.
White makes it out to be their way or the highway.Well,some fighters are saying fine and finding other outlets to fight through.The UFC's attempt to merge them with PRIDE and hold massive super events went down the drain.The deal with Fedor went down the drain.Couture left.Henderson is now speaking out about the UFC pay.White is too stuborn to sign Barnett.Other promotions are still popping out like zits on the face of the UFC.
I think the people at UFC thought that by buying out PRIDE the competition would become zero to none.Yet as of now the possibilities for more big promotions to rise seems more promising now than ever.
I think all you guys made very good points.2007 has been like a crazy "what if" year for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.In fact,I dare say this may be the first time what has happenend outside of the cage my be just as shocking and exciting as what happenend inside the cage.
Despite shocking scandals,corparation buyouts,and all the other craziness that has surronded MMA this year,I hope 2008 can get a little back to basics.I don't see that happening though.