Two MMA fight cards were supposed to take place on May 15th. Strikeforce Heavy Artillery produced one of the cards while the other came from an upstart promotion, with a very interesting marquee fight. Shine Fights promoted a bout between professional boxer Ricardo Mayorga and MMA veteran Din Thomas.
However, Don King’s injunction, along with the promotion making its first trip to pay-per-view, caused a literal nightmare. Shine Fights was forced to cancel the event due to losing their marquee fight in addition to having all promotional efforts hinging on the main event. Don King got his way and Shine fights were in a bit of hot water.
Many promotions have fallen, or failed to stand the test of time, in the sport of MMA. But how does this happen?
We all may remember promotions such as the IFL, EliteXC, the WFA and Affliction that are no longer around for various reasons. Many promotions have tried to grow too fast, eagerly looking to dominate the MMA business and conquer the UFC. This strategy has already proved costly for several promotions.
Some companies also make the common mistake of jumping to pay-per-view before fans are aware of their promotion, or the fighters on their roster. MMA fans must be comfortable with the production value of the show, the quality of the match ups, and the actual fighters. With the tough economic climate, it is even more evident that the ground-work should be laid for new promotions hoping to attract fans.
The last big mistake made is over-promotion of the marquee bout. We are all too familiar with boxing cards like Mayweather vs. Mosley. But can anyone really name the fights on the under card?
MMA can’t fall into the same trap as boxing by allowing all the marketing and hype to focus on the main bout. Affliction Trilogy provided a perfect example with the Fedor/Barnett mega-fight.
A routine drug test gone wrong created a domino effect, causing bout substitutions, fans demanding refunds, and eventually the cancellation of the event. Just days later, Affliction was a thing of the past.
In a sport where injuries are prevalent, and things are bound to go wrong, not having a strong co-main event is the smart move.
Shine Fights committed many of these damaging mistakes on their May 15th card. They could eventually become a strong promotion in MMA, with respected guys like Din Thomas and “Ninja” Rua fighting under their banner. Shine fights could take a lesson from the WEC and Strikeforce.
Strikeforce faced an uphill battle after EliteXC left a bad taste in our mouths. Strikeforce re-tooled itself and started small, choosing to build through shows every few months in order to put on interesting fights. Strikeforce attracted more notable fighters to its ranks, and eventually hosted more events.
Once their success became evident, Strikeforce turned up the intensity by negotiating with Fedor Emelianenko. The promotion now enjoys monthly events on Showtime and the CBS network. Strikeforce has also paired with Japanese promotion Dream to make more creative bouts that attract fans.
The WEC also made smart choices, deciding to focus on the lighter weight classes it had become famous for. The Zuffa owned promotion further gained fans and attention with its shows on the Versus network. WEC also had a powerful weapon in the popular Urijah Faber, who has since become the face of the brand.
Possibly the greatest decision that the promotion made was slowly gaining fans and attention. When the time was right, they could host a blockbuster fight card on pay-per-view.
Both the WEC and Strikeforce are a testament to patience and promotion in the sport of MMA. Shine fights, and other growing promotions, have the possibility to be a part of this great sport if they simply have insight and patience.
Shine has fighters, ideas and a unique and passionate team to put on great shows. As fans, we hope to eventually see Shine fights in the future. We'll also look forward to a time when we can see the promotion at full force, when they can truly shine.