The UFC has grown exponentially over the past decade. From a reality series to hosting events on a global scale, the organization is definitely successful on many levels.
The UFC's business model is great, and it has made their organization and its fighters a significant amount of money and recognition. However, there are a few ways to make the UFC better.
1. Have fighter introductions for every card.
For those who remember Pride (RIP), watching the intros with the orchestra and the big drum and Lenne Hardt (American female announcer) brought the house down before the card even started.
It got fans pumped and ready to watch the fights. Pyrotechnics, big screens, and the fighters coming out one by one and lining up was beyond phenomenal.
The UFC should follow suit and do introductions as they were done in Pride to generate excitement for the card, which may draw in new fans to the organization and sport.
2. Form a fighter's union.
For such a large, financially stable organization, the UFC has surprisingly low payouts given to their fighters.
Brock Lesnar, arguably the UFC's top draw, made $400,000 for his win over Frank Mir at UFC 100. Georges St. Pierre, the second largest draw, made $200,000 plus a $200,000 win bonus for his dismantling of Thiago Alves on the same card.
Granted, fighters only compete in a handful of fights every year, and have incentive-laden ways to earn money (Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night, Submission of the Night, and win bonuses), but these men should earn more than what they are paid now.
Paulo Thiago making $16,000 (which included an $8,000 win bonus) for his win at UFC 106 is simply unacceptable. That amount probably covers only one-fourth of what a training camp costs to prepare for a fight.
Would Kobe Bryant or Peyton Manning settle for $5 million a year, let alone less than $1 million annually, to play their respective sports? Didn't think so.
The four major sports organizations in the United States have a players union who looks out for the welfare of their athletes. Why shouldn't the UFC? It would be in the best interest of the fighters and their well-being to be represented by a union and to earn what they rightfully deserve.
3. Implement a Cruiserweight Division.
The Heavyweight division, which ranges from 206-265 pounds, has a weight difference of 60 pounds, which is the same as the weight difference of the other four UFC weight classes combined.
Fighters who are in the middle of this weight class simply cannot compete with the bigger fighters who fight at close to 265 pounds (Lesnar-Couture is a great example, with more than a 40-pound difference between the two fighters).
With a cruiserweight division, the heavyweight division would be split in half in terms of weight, and would consist of fighters weighing 206-235 pounds. This would be fair, given that fighters in this weight range have a better chance of competing for a belt against fighters their own size than in the heavyweight division.
4. Institute a Grand Prix.
Back along the Pride theme, Grand Prix was, for lack of a better term, awesome. Fighters battling in a single elimination format over multiple events (sometimes multiple times in one night) tested the true determination of a fighter.
UFC should implement an annual Grand Prix, rotating between weight classes, to determine who really is the best fighter in that weight class. As with Pride, the Grand Prix belt cannot be defended, and does not serve as the UFC belt-holder for that specific weight class.
As a matter of fact, this would be an excellent way to determine the first Cruiserweight champion.
5. Sign Fedor.
I know, I know...UFC tried to sign him, parties didn't get along, not treating fighters properly, Fedor backed out, etc.
I give Dana White all the credit in the world—he tried extremely hard to sign Fedor, and gave him plenty of great opportunities to sign with the UFC (could compete in Sambo tournaments, immediate title shot, etc) but it just didnt' work.
The main holdup was a co-sponsorship with M-1, which Dana said no to. If this was the only reason Fedor didn't sign with the UFC, then Dana and the Fertittas should consider co-sponsoring Fedor fights only.
Fedor would be a huge draw for the UFC. You sign arguably the greatest MMA fighter in history, people will watch, and the UFC will make more money than they already do. It's a win-win for all parties.
In addition, if Fedor comes to the UFC, current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi could follow suit, which means that UFC would have all of the best fighters in the world in one organization.
So there you have it: five ways to improve the UFC. Whether any, all, or none of these methods come to fruition, it is definitely interesting to think what the UFC could do with any of these actions.