There are dozens of MMA organizations worldwide. There are some that fans don’t even know exist and there are those that stand out such as UFC, Strikeforce, EliteXC, K-1, and the newly formed M1. Similarly to the “Dot Com boom” of the 2000/2001 and the Real Estate market it ended abruptly and saw the decline of many businesses and jobs. MMA falls into the category of a fast-rising industry only to be stop dead in its track due to an over glorified and over estimated forecast of its own success.
Regulated business-competition is healthy for any industry, but when an industry starts to exceed its boundaries trouble may arise. Ironically, the abundance of these MMA organizations will cannibalize each other by spreading talented fighters thinly across different organizations. Sure, fighters will benefit by going to the organization that pays them best, but will they be fighting top competition? Look at Randy Couture, the Heavyweight champ of the UFC. And Fedor Emelianenko, the undisputed Heavyweight champ outside of UFC, according to fans and many others. Will we ever see the two meet up in an MMA match? It depends. As long as they are in different organizations the chances are very unlikely even when fan are willing to pay their hard earned money to see it.
I’m not saying there should only be one MMA organization. Instead, the industry should take a step back and take a look at the big picture. They need to take a look at what the fans want and what the fighters want. A perfect balance between the two can only bring success. No one wants to see a champion in one organization beating up-and-coming fighters when there are perfectly 2 or 3 contenders elsewhere in the sport that can bring a challenge. Fans want great match-ups and exciting fights. An organization won’t be successful if they can not produce what the fans want. Fighters want to be compensated for what they contribute to the sport and to be champions. How far can a career fighter go in an organization when their top fighter in their organization is not the best. To be a champion you have to fight and beat the best. And if your organization doesn’t have the best then their fighters have no where to go.
Taking the words from Mike Goldberg (UFC’s color commentator), MMA is on a “meteoric rise”(isn’t that an oxymoron?). But how high before it falls and crashes? When, not if, the MMA bubble bursts the fighters will be the first to feel its impact. MMA organizations will not have the monetary funds to pay their top fighters or even mid-tier fighters and will file bankruptcy. If they are lucky, a larger organization will buy them out, but only keeping a handful of the top fighters (look what happen to PrideFC). In the end, only a few organizations will be left. The growth of the industry will come to a halt as a career in MMA is not as lucrative anymore.
It’s almost like a civil war. It takes a drastic event that sacrifices many innocent lives, in this case the fighters and fans, to have a revolutionary change. Maybe after an MMA bubble burst will we get unified MMA rules and judging, a single governing MMA body, and World Champions that are actually World Champions.