Why the Super Fight League Disaster Will Scare the UFC Away from India

Steve SadokaContributor IIIApril 9, 2012

The Super Fight League is a disaster. I made my opinions clear in a previous article and a few people did not agree with them, but SFL 2 proved me right.

The SFL is doing so badly that it has already lost 99 percent of its viewers, and if it wasn't giving away tickets, there would be no one watching the live fights except the judges and commentators.

If you knew anything about the people involved you would not be surprised. Sanjay Dutt has been arrested on terrorism charges and was suspected of being involved in the Mumbai bombings which killed over 200 people.

No one in the U.S. would stand for it if someone involved in the UFC was caught up in the World Trade Center bombings and Dutt could be one of the reasons people in India do not want to support the SFL.

Ken Pavia is famous for being taken to court by the UFC for stealing trade secrets, and how can you take anyone seriously who says crazy stuff in interviews like this one which is from The Score newspaper:

“The first event sold out, no seats were available the day of the event,” Pavia told Mauro Ranallo on The MMA Show. “We were on the front page of the Mumbai Times — the No. 1 circulated English newspaper in India — two times the week of the first event. The second event this weekend is sold out. We have seven events the rest of the year, a reality show, and 12 next year. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The WWE is big out here but it’s starting to wane now that (the Indian fans) have realized it’s fake, so we’re looking to capitalize on it.”

India Super Fight League’s Ken Pavia: We have so much untapped potential in our thumbs

I watched SFL 1, and if it was sold out then a lot of people who bought tickets decided not to go (which is weird). I also watched SFL 2, and if you believe that was sold out, then I have an exciting investment opportunity I would like to discuss with you.

I don't want to come across as churlish, but the Mumbai Times is not the No.1 circulated English newspaper in India. This is not important, but when someone gets three things wrong in one paragraph it does not do much for their credibility.

Pavia also claims in that interview that 450,000 people watched SFL 1, which is very impressive, but it seems only 3,000 people watched SFL 2, which means the SFL lost almost all of its viewers. I thought the first show was bad, but never in my wildest dreams did I realize that it had been this bad.

As I said in my previous article, first impressions count and the SFL has put so many people off MMA that it is going to be much more difficult for the UFC, or any other company, to put on fights in India in the future.

Some Indians have decided it is dangerous, others that it is fake and most of them just don't understand any of the rules. The 450,000 people who watched SFL 1 must have all hated it. Why else would they have decided not to watch SFL 2?

On top of all the other things the UFC was going to have to do to get into India, it is now also going to need to make people forget about the disastrous SFL and keep an open mind about MMA. The SFL owners have got a dime or two and could afford to keep the fiasco going for as long as they want which is not good news for the UFC.

Every time the SFL puts on one of their Bollywood style shows, it will make more people think that MMA is also a show which should be thought of in the same way as a concert or a movie instead of an actual sport.

A lot of people in India don't even think MMA is real. What is happening is even worse than I first predicted because it would be better if no one knew about MMA then having all these people not like it and think it is fake because their first exposure was seeing an Indian beat a Sri Lankan who had no MMA training at all for the SFL.

I can only imagine how much money the SFL must have lost. There is no way the meager ticket sales could have even come close to paying for the price of having LMFAO and Jennifer Lopez perform at SFL 1.

SFL 2 is the first time I have heard a fighter introduced as having a background in "amateur rugby," and he was supposed to have taken the fight on short notice but still proved to be more fit and strong then the Indian who was supposed to beat him.

To guarantee the Indian fighters did get some wins the SFL paid two wrestlers from the US to train them and then selected opponents for them who had never even trained MMA. The commentators did not even try to pretend and Phil Baroni introduced one tomato can from Sri Lanka as being 'an office clerk who had never trained MMA.'

And as people are going to accuse me of hating on the SFL, there were some improvements with the dreadful Indian commentator cut and some B-level fights on the card. If the SFL benched the Bollywood dancers and singers, stopped spending big bucks on pop stars and did the same thing as Legend or URCC or Dare or any other successful Asian organization instead of trying to become bigger than the UFC overnight it could be a success.

The 450,000 viewers which the SFL has lost, could have been put off MMA for life, but if they had seen the UFC  they might be fans for life. Getting so many people to watch SFL 1 was unreal, but the SFL dropped the ball big time by putting on such bad fights.

The SFL is a disaster not just for the people involved but for the UFC as well because it has damaged the image of MMA, just like I said it would. If the SFL had impressed those 450,000 Indians, there would have been room in the market for both the SFL and the UFC and Indian MMA would be booming.

Because the SFL put everyone off so much that they don't want to watch MMA anymore, the UFC must be reconsidering whether expanding into India now is such a good idea after all. It just goes to show how, in the wrong hands, an MMA organization can do major damage to the image of the sport. 

If it is in some seedy bar with only 200 paying customers in attendance, then the damage is limited, but when an amateurish MMA organization is in national newspapers and on national TV the damage will last for years and years and years.

The UFC needs there to be local shows in countries to raise the profile of MMA and to provide talent for it to use. The SFL could have been a good thing, but it has been so mismanaged that it is ruining the image of MMA in India and could put other promoters, such as the UFC, off ever coming to India.