It seems that nothing can stop the UFC juggernaut.
Pride, WEC and now Strikeforce have been bought out by the organisation that is seeking total control of the MMA landscape.
And I, for one, see this as a good thing for the sport.
In the vast majority of professional sports, there is one dominant organisation that all of the world's best talent strive to compete in.
The NBA, NFL, AFL, NHL and MLB are all the undisputed top leagues in the world in their given sports, which means that the champion sides are obviously also the best in the world. For fans, this allows clarity that is not possible when there are a number of top competitions.
Soccer is the only major sport to not fit this mould, which FIFA addressed years ago by introducing the UEFA Champions League for the best teams in each competition to enter annually.
Boxing is an example of a sport that lacks this strength. The WBA, IBF, WBC and WBO all hold world title matches regularly, which means that at any given time there can be as many as four “world champions” in any given weight class.
This leads to confusion over who the top fighters really are, which—to the credit of the organisations—is generally resolved with a cross-organisation event, with multiple belts on the line.
However, cross-promotion is something that Dana White has refused to consider for the UFC. This is in all likelihood because he doesn’t want to share the profits with a smaller organisation, but I think that it also benefits MMA.
Having one organisation at the top of the tree means that cross-promotion, multiple belts fights are unnecessary. This is a better scenario because fans don’t need to wait for a cross-promotion match to see who the world champion is.
This is not to say that there is no place for other notable organisations to operate. It would be a poor result for fans if the UFC bought out and merged with all other professional organisations because fighters who were cut would drop off the radar of fans and would not be able to find quality opponents to face, which would leave them unable to prove themselves worthy of another shot in the UFC.
Keeping Strikeforce around as a type of second division would be a way to avoid this, as well as leaving other notable organisations such as Bellator and Dream to prosper. If Dana White and Co. mean to manage MMA in this way, then it shouldn’t matter if all these competitions are Zuffa owned or not.
Although the UFC claim to have the best interests of MMA at heart, it is fair to say that money plays a bigger role in the way they operate.
This may mean that they take their expansion too far, buying out and merging with every professional organisation that they can. This would be a poor result for the long-term future of mixed martial arts and its fans.
There needs to be some variety and opportunities for non-UFC fighters to make names for themselves. If the UFC have the best interests of MMA as their priority then the sport should go from strength to strength, but if making a dollar is put ahead of the sport, then MMA may have some problems in the future.
Overall, there are more positives from the dominance of the UFC than negatives, by a long way.