Why the UFC Will Be More Popular Than the NBA and the NHL in the Next Decade

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIFebruary 20, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 16: UFC President Dana White speaks during a press conference promoting UFC 145: Jones v Evans at Philips Arena on February 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The UFC has the potential to become more than just a sports franchise if it continues to grow the way it has in the last few years. It can outpace other entrenched establishments such as basketball or hockey.

All it needs to do is keep reinventing itself and continue to change while still keeping true to letting fights organically tell a tale like they have since the dawn of man.

I wrote a while ago about how the UFC has reached the point where it will have over-saturated the market unless it changes how it is seen and revamps its product. There are simply too many shows and no offseason.

Every pay-per-view and every cable TV show sounds the same with the same announcers, the same style of music in the promos, the same rules and the same packaging. The UFC needs to do something that even the NHL and the NBA have done.

They need to add a flair and a twist to their product depending on the country they are in. With that, they can make their product fresh each time.

We have already seen the UFC start to do this by adding an Ultimate Fighter show for Brazil. By adding the show to other countries, the UFC could potentially learn to change their company just enough to sell it in a different light depending on the fighters who are in each PPV and what culture they embody.

The NBA and the NHL each have different cities for different teams, which leads to different jerseys and fanbases. These differences help sustain their marketability.

But each MMA star can have crossover potential in a way other sports don't. As much as MMA is a sport, it is about the singular man who competes and while there are rules that must be adhered to, no one needs to explain the concept of a fight.

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks looks on during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at Madison Square Garden on February 19, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by download
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

As long as the UFC learns to sell their fighters and their PPV's in a different manner each time, they can reach beyond the limitations the NHL and the NBA have.

The NBA has Jeremy Lin and the current epidemic of "Linsanity" sweeping the nation.

Wayne Gretzky is beloved in his native Canada when it comes to hockey.

Neither man is a worldwide phenomenon. There are exceptions like Michael Jordan, but for the most part, a player for both sports is limited in how big their star can grow. It all comes down to one thing.

Their sport and the rules that sport plays by.

Take someone who has never seen any sports and show them Jeremy Lin and while they might notice that he is an exceptional athlete, you would need to translate what can and can't be done in a basketball game.

Just the act of dribbling a ball and how many steps a player has to take each time before he is penalized for traveling would take effort.

No effort is needed to explain what an Anderson Silva knockout includes. Not on a basic level.

The same can be said about Gretzky. He scored a vast number of points in his career, but some of what he has done will be lost without the knowledge of what a goal is and how one is scored.

The same thing can't be said about Junior dos Santos' knockouts. The KOs scored in MMA allow it the same level of acclaim boxing once had.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Hockey great and former Sportsman of the Year Wayne Gretzky attends the 2011 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award presentation at The IAC Building on December 6, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Get
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The idea that two men who can't even speak the same language and can't interact with each other in any way can still get in a fight and prove who is the best in the world.

It is something that is innately within every human and the only thing hampering the UFC right now is a lack of competition. They don't have any rival promotions to innovate against and without it they are going to get stale.

But if they learn how to change their product and keep it novel, they can retell the same classic story that has been around since the dawn of time.

Two men meet in battle with only one left standing.

And no one needs a rule book to figure out what is going to happen there.


Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report.  He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com that focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.