Although this is a wrestling column and wrestling is my first love I’ve often told people I’m a fan of violence. Whether it is Boxing, Kick Boxing, Judo or anything else if it involves one man beating another I’ll probably watch it. Of course that includes MMA and like some MMA enthusiasts I’ve followed the sport since day one when it wasn’t even called NHB (No Holds Barred) but shoot fighting and I knew way back then that somehow it would be the next step in what professional wrestling was. After all as much as wrestling fans love the storytelling of wrestling there is nothing that can take away from something that is real. Anyway a few weeks ago I was conversing online with a friend of mine who is heavily involved with MMA and while we were catching up on personal stuff and talking about other projects that I’m working on he had told me that I would be very interested in some news that was about to come out. He didn’t tell me what but it would only be a few days later that I would see that it came down that the UFC the biggest promoter of MMA in the world bought Strikeforce their closest competitor. I couldn’t help but think about how this just so coincidentally occurred 10 years after WWE purchased WCW effectively giving Vince McMahon a monopoly at the time of the wrestling business and pretty much changing the wrestling landscape forever. UFC having purchased Strikeforce and years earlier purchasing Pride FC had pretty much accomplished the same thing for the MMA industry. It was a big story for everyone who was involved with MMA and even though it is another industry I couldn’t help but think about what this purchase means for pro wrestling. Is UFC monopolizing MMA good for wrestling? You’re reading “Wrestling Rumblings”.
There are some out there that don’t follow MMA who are wondering why they should care about UFC owning all the major MMA companies? After all they aren’t going to watch MMA no matter if there is one or 1000 companies out there and that’s fine. I will share this immediate thought I had upon learning of the Strikeforce purchase by UFC; if UFC controls all of MMA what’s next? Everyone always likens Dana White to Vince McMahon and it can be argued that one of Vince McMahon’s biggest faults is that he doesn’t just stick to wrestling. He is constantly pushing his resources to expand his empire whether it is the failed WBF and XFL leagues, promoting Evil Knievel stunts, boxing or WWE Music and WWE Films. Why should I believe Dana White would be any different? With all the credit given to UFC you think Dana White doesn’t recognize how much of his success is due to wrestling? Whether it was WWE allowing Spike TV at the time to air the first season of The Ultimate Fighter when Raw was still on that network to the crossover exposure his company was given by former pro wrestler Brock Lesnar. Maybe at some point Dana will take a look at something like TNA and think he can do wrestling better than the WWE and buy it out or start another company anew. For those who think I am reaching and this is something outrageous in the early 90’s who seriously thought that Ted Turner would buy out Jim Crockett Promotions and form WCW? I think it is the nature of powerful men to just try to become more powerful and make no mistake about it after monopolizing MMA in less than 10 years Dana White is now a very powerful man.
One of the things that Dana kept saying when talking about the purchase of Strikeforce is that he wants more fights. With the Strikeforce purchase Zuffa Inc. (UFC and Strikeforces parent company) now has over 450 fighters under contract and for some reason I came away feeling that they want more fighters. What do you think the end goal of that is? Between UFC and Strikeforce there were 39 MMA shows in the year 2010 who is to say that the end goal of this is to maybe have enough fighters for a weekly MMA show similar to ESPN’s Friday Night Fights or HBO’s World Championship Boxing which would compete with Monday Night Raw? They are already on pace for 42 this year with 21 scheduled through June. It’s no secret that one of the reasons Spike TV pumps so much money into TNA is because they want to eventually have something that can compete with Vince McMahon on Monday nights. There is a reason that the USA Network is one of the top networks in the country and number one amongst males 18 to 34 and that reason is WWE. What if Spike TV takes a good long hard look at the current MMA landscape and says “We have been backing the wrong horse” and cuts TNA and cuts a monster deal for UFC to put on live fights every week? It’s not as impossible as it sounds for UFC to put on an hour of live fights every week and while I don’t think such a thing would actually beat Monday Night Raw I am convinced it would dent WWE’s ratings just a bit. If you think about it WWE is doing about a 3.3 right now if UFC took just .2 of a rating you would actually have weeks where WWE’s rating would fall under a 3 and when negotiating rights fees that would prove disastrous to WWE’s bottom line when you take into consideration that UFC has already hurt their PPV business.
Now that I have made the argument of how a UFC monopoly of MMA can hurt pro wrestling how about the ways where it can help it? Before the McMahon monopoly wrestling was hot, probably hotter than the UFC is right now but the lack of options sort of fizzled the business out a bit, who is to say that the same thing can’t happen to MMA? This past weekend UFC held a PPV event at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey the same night that both WWE and ROH ran shows in NYC just 15 minutes away and well a non televised WWE show did over 18,000 fans for a gate that is being hailed as the biggest non PPV gate WWE has ever done while UFC in the Prudential Center for a PPV that got a lot of buzz and was really a solid show did just over 12,000 fans which was about 5,000 less than the last time they were there. It could be argued that with the NCAA Wrestling Tournament in Philadelphia being held that day and doing big business that this hurt WWE but I think it can also be argued that WWE hurt UFC. Sure Wrestlemania has everyone talking right now and many casual fans are coming back for the Rock that probably won’t stick around when Wrestlemania is over but what if they do? Better yet what happens when UFC becomes just as overexposed as many say pro wrestling is? It is bound to happen at some point you can only do some matchups so many times before they lose appeal and to be honest there are only so many guys in MMA that are really big box office. Say what you want about pro wrestling but a pro wrestling fan generally tends to be familiar with everyone on the card and treat everyone somewhat like a star. I still don’t know a UFC fan who knows everyone they watch on a fight card. While the UFC brand and MMA is growing the global awareness advantage is still with WWE and well maybe, just maybe UFC owning everything will slow there momentum to a crawl.
In closing I have to say I am a fan of both WWE and UFC and would really love to see both companies do well. So I don’t want this column to come across as if I am rooting for one industry or company over another because I am not. I just can’t help but see the potential road to collision that both companies are on. UFC can say all they want how boxing is there biggest competitor and WWE can continue to call themselves an entertainment company that continues to go on about business as if MMA doesn’t exist but it does exist and boxing isn’t UFC’s biggest competitor it’s pro wrestling. There is a war brewing and with men like Dana White and Vince McMahon who have egos that transcend any industry it’s just a matter of time before someone fires the first shot.
Time to wrap up this week but of course I have to give everyone something to do and with me talking so much about UFC it just so happens that UFC Fight Night Live is this Saturday on Spike TV headlined by Antonio Nogueira vs. Phil Davis. I’m a big MMA fan and one of the things I hope that takes place here on Wrestleview going forward with the future is that MMA events get covered here as I think there is a definite connection between MMA and pro wrestling and I think there is a big fanbase of both that would support this site in the efforts to cover both industries. Want to talk about MMA? Wrestling? There is a big event by the name of Wrestlemania less than 2 weeks away that I will be live in attendance for. Go ahead and shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and well that’s it for this week, next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.