With Seven MMA Cards in August, Who Feels the Pinch?

Ken FossAnalyst IJuly 21, 2009

As a rule, I don't like to rain on parades. I usually like to attend them (and get the free stuff people hand out).

After all, parades (like MMA events) are supposed to be symbolic to the systemic growth of your power, a declaration to your citizens (or in this case fans) that your organization is "too big to fail." And thus you can rest easy.

Well, we've come to find out that it's not that easy. Chasing the elusive growth in any sector is difficult and ardent competition has been and will continue to be the reason we don't drive American Motors or fly TW Airlines (or in this case watch Pride FC).

Competition is great for us, the consumer. After all, we get spoiled rotten.

Eventually though, we hit a ceiling, and as the financial windbag Jim Cramer likes to say, "Pigs get slaughtered."

That's the situation I fear our sport faces.

Can MMA really survive with two companies vying for pay-per-view dollars, three more looking for cable viewers on channels north of one hundred, and one more seeking subscription dollars in the same month?

It just seems bad for business, now that UFC has mainstream eyes on the buy rates for UFC 101 after UFC 100 turned in well north of one million buys.

They're looking to see if it was just a fad, a momentary surge generated by their centennial.

It's in the UFC's best interests to put up numbers to prove them wrong.

Especially if Dana White wants to make good on his bold statement that the UFC will be bigger than soccer worldwide, anytime in his lifetime. 

Can he really do that by putting on two $50 shows in the same month? Forget about the competition for a moment.

Can he expect a country deep in a recession to fork over north of a hundred dollars this month? More likely, households will buy one and not the other.

Is Dana White really that asinine in his efforts to push the smaller companies out?

On second thought don't answer that.

Then factor in Affliction: Trilogy. The bi-yearly organization has decided to avoid being crushed by UFC 100, delaying its summer card until August.

Will August be any kinder?

Moreover is this the swan song for Fedor in Affliction?

Will he find any worthy challengers in a weak Heavyweight division to keep him relevant in the MMA landscape?

The card is thick with almost were, could be, and should have been great fighters, but Fedor is the only real thing they have, can they afford to lose him?

Frankly, without a great buy number, can they even afford him?

Then we get to Strikeforce's suicidal card. Four title belts on the line on subscription movie channel Showtime.

Headlined by Gina Carano vs. Chis "Cyborg" Santos for the newly minted Women's title (the specific weight limits not yet announced, my guess is 135 pounds-145 pounds) at 145 pounds.

Considering how women's MMA is taken in the chauvinistic caveman minded 18-34 year-old execs and fans (which happens to make up MMA's target demographic) it means that unless your name is Loretta Hunt, you should be very nervous about this card.

As happy I am to see the ladies get the publicity for a change. I think it would have been more intelligent to wait 'til September to put the bout on CBS, because if this fight tanks, so to does the women's game.

We move on deeper to WEC 42's card, currently situated on upper-tier cable outlet Versus, for what should be the final time, no other card has been scheduled and I believe there contract runs out this month.

I really question if the move is a wise one.

Will people feel that just top heavy featherweight and bantamweight divisions will sell to a PPV audience? I really doubt it without major overhaul.

It will be really telling to see how this card rates without a full week of media blitz in advance of the matches, because this card is about as good as Sengoku 9. I doubt it comes close to Faber v. Brown II.

Speaking of Sengoku 9, the company isn't concerned with American eyes at the moment, looking at the American audience as gravy.

It needs to establish itself in Asia before looking to global domination. They were probably floored when the Cuban network asked to air their events in the U.S. live.

So, for this discussion, the card in which their featherweight tournament is finished probably doesn't need to worry so much about the short term.

With a sport like this in the early stages of acceptance, can—and should—we really risk over-saturating the market before its ready to take on the masses?

Or is this the step that's taken to grow the sport in the future—are we sacrificing short-term gains for long-term success on the road to global dominance?

We'll find out either way.