ProElite Folds, Where Does MMA Go From Here?

Michael BairCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2008

EliteXC and its ProElite parent company have folded and ceased operations as of today. The November 8th show featuring Nick Diaz v. Eddie Alvarez and Joey Villasenor v. Robbie Lawler has been canceled according to both Yahoo! Sports and

This comes on the heels of the latest installment of CBS Saturday Night Fights, which drew 4.56 million viewers but brought about allegations of fixing of Shane Petruzelli’s knockout of ProElite cash cow Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson.

Showtime, owned by CBS had entered negotiations to purchase ProElite and funded the October show, but pulled out when the fixing allegations arose.

ProElite had accumulated $55million in debt and it was common knowledge that the company would either be bought by Showtime or fold by years end. The fixing scandal has sent ProElite to U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

So what does the fall of ProElite mean to the landscape of MMA?

Word is that handfuls of agents representing ProElite fighters were blowing up the UFC phone lines on Monday. Talented fighters such as Jake Shields, Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler are likely to be welcomed.

But many other fighters could possibly end up in the Affliction or Strikeforce promotions, which look to be continuing their pushes with the help of Fedor Emelianenko and NBC respectively.

What about EliteXC top draws Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano?

UFC President Dana White has gone on record numerous times bashing Slice and has said he has no interest in promoting women’s MMA, but the money involved in promoting both Slice and Carano could make him reconsider

White has shown himself very opinionated with extreme bias towards the UFC and promoting his organization, but he has also proved himself to be an extremely talented businessman.

White took the UFC from a company in ruins purchased for $2million dollars to a multibillion-dollar enterprise in just seven years.

His business sense could make him eat his words here.

The end result of the matter is a very exciting and interesting period for all MMA fans.

While the end result is yet to be seen, I personally have a goal for MMA as a sport at this juncture.

While many MMA fans are not fans of Dana White and the UFC’s practices, I feel that the best scenario for MMA fans and fighters would be that the UFC become dominant and expand as a promotion.

While many say that this would be bad for MMA, I beg to differ. I use the dominant sports leagues such as Major League Baseball, the NFL and NBA as an example.

If MMA is to grow to be a mainstream accepted sport and grow into an economic force on par with major sports leagues today, a major promotion, which at this time appears to be undoubtedly the UFC, must emerge.

The reason the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR and NCAA have become so successful and so profitable has been that they have reigned supreme. Fans only need watch the MLB, NFL, NBA or their college counterparts to follow the landscape of the sport.

If the UFC were to emerge in this same fashion, it would greatly benefit MMA fans as with the vast pool of fighters today and future fighters that will no doubt arise given MMA’s surge in popularity, weekly fights could be aired on free television, which Dana White has stated is a goal of the UFC.


Small local promotions would still exist as they do today, functioning as a minor league, seasoning fighters for the “big show.”

When I say I wish for the UFC to emulate the major pro leagues, I mean this in every aspect.

The UFC has made great profits lately that will no doubt grow, and it is time that fighters receive a proportionate monetary take. This can be achieved in the way other major sports leagues have, through the unionization of fighters.

A fighter’s union would help ensure that fighters receive fair pay and receive benefits such as healthcare and pension in the same fashion other pro athletes do.

An MMA fighter puts significant risk into their occupation and the UFC benefits greatly from their efforts and it is time that the UFC recognizes that and makes commitments to the fighter commensurate to that work, risk, and sacrifice.

In an ideal situation, the UFC’s dominance and continued growth could greatly benefit MMA fans through a lone organization to follow, leading to the best fights being staged and a surplus of quality matchups to watch.

If the UFC were to become a virtual monopoly on MMA such as other pro leagues are in their respective sports, it could mean fight cards on a more frequent, possibly weekly basis and eventually (hopefully) mean the elimination of pay-per-view fights.

For fighters it could lead to much more financial security and benefit and ensure that fighters are properly compensated for putting their health and livelihood on the line in a fight.

I do not know that MMA will be able to grow much more if it continues to have various promotions in the public eye or goes to a more boxing-esque practice.

I say all of this with a very idealist hope and I accept that this vision is a dream that is not likely to be realized, but it is my belief that this would be the ideal destination for MMA at this crossroads it has come across.

I welcome all comments and criticisms and look forward to everyone’s input.