There are very few things that I would ever disagree with Dana White about when discussing the UFC. But the President of the UFC was proven wrong in a big way this week as the UFC laid off a slew of workers, fired high-level executives, and now have released 13 fighters.
Cutting the fighters is a good sign that the fight promotion will reduce the event schedule for the upcoming year. White has always dismissed the possibility of oversaturation in the MMA world.
He would note how no one talked about having fewer baseball games or football games would be a good thing. And he saw his sport as no different.
White’s feelings were that a rabid fanbase would turn out for live events and watch televised fights as often as the UFC could run them.
He was wrong.
Too much of a good thing can ruin said good thing.
The UFC layoffs and likely fewer events in 2017 are of course results of a huge corporation, WME-IMG, buying the fight promotion. Big companies are always looking to make profits, so layoffs are common. Inefficiencies need to be eliminated in order to maximize revenue. That means if you worked for the UFC and didn’t have a clear duty that no one else could take over, you were on the chopping block.
WME-IMG didn’t want to see any half full arenas either and damn sure didn’t want to see TV ratings slump due to subpar cards.
That’s what Dana White didn’t get. Fans do want to watch MMA as often as they have time to do so. But they want quality fights, not just thrown together cards to fill space.
Not only was Dana White wrong about there never being too many UFC events; the premise of his theory was off.
Baseball does have too many games. MLB’s 162 game schedule makes a single game not very important at all. It’s too much, especially in a society that is running at breakneck speed now.
And even the NFL can be oversaturated. TV ratings have dipped this year and could be partly because of too much football everywhere you look.
The RedZone has cannibalized single game viewing. You can watch commercial-free, sped up replays for a monthly fee on NFL.com. And many fans probably just watch fantasy highlights after all the day’s games, since fantasy football has become an addiction in America.
White thought fight fans would never get enough Octagon action. But if you ask most NFL fans if they want an 18 game regular season, they will give you an emphatic “hell no.”
It’s too much. You can’t go five weeks in the NFL without having your star running back knocked out with a concussion or a jacked knee. So you end up watching your home team with at least three backups starting games by week five.
The fight game is just as physically demanding as football. So there was no way the UFC could keep up the pace of adding events each year.
At some point, supply was going to outweigh demand.
Even if WME-IMG had not taken over the UFC, Dana White and the Fertitta brothers would have eventually trimmed the fight schedule on their own. The UFC is a good thing. But as with ice cream, you can overdo a good thing.
Pretty soon the UFC would have been an overweight dude with chocolate syrup running down his shirt if they kept stacking the schedule with sloppy fighters.
I hate it for anyone who lost their gig with the UFC in the past week. Many regular Joes were among the 60-80 workers that got chopped.
As for the fighters who got sent packing, it’s for the good of the sport. Too many fights lead to guys being showcased on TV who have no business there.
I have no interest in watching a seventh-round draft pick try and cover Antonio Brown on Sundays. I want to see the best against the best.
The same goes for the UFC. These cuts may be painful now, but it will make for a stronger promotion in the decade to come.