Bjorn Rebney admits to being an avid UFC fan back in the good ole’ days, when “pay-per-views were significant” and every event had “big fights.”
But things have obviously changed.
UFC President Dana White’s bid for global expansion has significantly increased the amount of annual content the UFC pumps out. There are more fights than ever before, providing fans with continued, unlimited content.
The downside to more content is a lack of sustained star power bolstering important cards. Fans are no longer paying for the best the UFC has to offer. Instead, a whopping $50 is often dumped on watered-down cards with one or two big fights.
“I used to watch the UFC years ago, and I used to buy pay-per-views when they were significant and every pay-per-view had big fights on it, but that’s not the case anymore,” Bellator CEO Rebney said in the Bellator 120 post-fight media scrum, per MMAjunkie.com. “They do one every three weeks, and some of them, I’m like, ‘I wouldn’t watch that if it was on [FOX Sports 1].’”
On Saturday night, Bellator went all in for its first pay-per-view venture.
The biggest names in the promotion stacked out a Bellator 120 fight card that cumulated more interest than initially anticipated. This is the module Rebney has every intention on sticking with for future pay-per-view shows:
My feeling is you should do pay-per-views when you can do huge depth on the pre-show on Spike and huge depth on the pay-per-view, and we did that tonight. And when we have the opportunity to do it again, whether it’s sometime later this fall or next year – whenever it is – we’ll do it again.
It would be interesting to see if Rebney’s opinion would remain the same if he were on the other side of the fence.
The UFC’s most underwhelming pay-per-view card would still draw significantly better numbers than Bellator’s best. With no offseason in fighting, there will obviously be more shows as the UFC continues to expand into other markets. Perhaps White said it best during one of his daily spats with fans on Twitter. You don’t have to buy it if you don’t like it.
@mik3m518 then don't watch 43 of them dummy— Dana White (@danawhite) March 8, 2014
Fighters that wouldn’t normally get an opportunity to compete on pay-per-view are now able to do so, which in turn helps the UFC bolster its roster by building new stars.
Still, Rebney has a valid point about a significant amount of depth needed on a fight card to warrant a pay-per-view event. The UFC could look into more free events or decreasing the pay-per-view prices. Perhaps the $50 price tag should only be attached to major fight cards like UFC 168, which featured the highly anticipated rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva.
Quality will always trump quantity in the fight business.