Postal Connections: Waiting for MMA to Exhale

By Greg Savage Jul 2, 2016

We’re about a week away from the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s bicentennial show, and I’m still not sure it’s even going to be the biggest event of the summer. While I’m expecting UFC 200 to do big numbers with Brock Lesnar onboard, I think UFC 202 might outpace it come August. It’s a win-win for the UFC and its fans either way you slice it. Those fight cards aren’t the only major events to look forward to, if you believe the reports that the company has been sold. I’ve heard from multiple sources it’s a done deal, but the UFC has yet to confirm anything sale-related. The speculation is we’ll hear about it sometime during the weeklong buildup to UFC 200 on July 9.

All the speculation should come to a close soon enough, but we’ll talk about it a little more in this week’s edition of Postal Connections:

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Will the esteemed MMA media eat crow if the new owners of the UFC ruin the organization?‬‬‬ -- @HowardMorton

I’m not sure where this question is coming from to tell you the truth. Reporting on things that are happening behind the scenes does not imply a journalist thinks the events playing out are either positive or negative. I wrote a column earlier this week detailing some of the things I thought could occur if a sale is truly finalized. The point of the piece was to give some insight into where the potential new ownership might be headed, not to say whether it would be successful or not.

Whenever there is regime change in a company there are opportunities to make changes to which the old executive suite might not have been open. Those can lead to improvements or deterioration of the brand. Obviously, nobody is dropping upwards of $4 billion on a company making around $150 million in its best year ever unless they think they can do some things to expand the brand and increase revenues.

If they can pull it off, then it’s great for the entire industry. If they can’t, then eating crow will be way down on the list of priorities for those whose livelihood comes from MMA. The only occasion that calls for crow to be served will come if the reports of the sale prove to be false; and we’ll need a big bird if that happens.

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This sale you keep talking about could have a huge effect on the UFC. At the end of the day, will it be a positive or a negative for the company? -- Jett

The UFC sale story has taken on a life of its own over the past couple of weeks. The speculation about how a new ownership group might run the company has been rampant, but honestly, it is all conjecture at this point.

You’d think a group that included as many successful people as the rumored buyers would keep the UFC in good hands, but you never really know. The passion for the sport that UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and UFC President Dana White bring to the equation is going to be tough to match in any new management setup. Keeping White seems to be a big piece of the future puzzle, so it looks like they want to keep some continuity at the top.

While I’m sure there are going to be some things a new group could do better than the current ownership, it’s hard to say they will represent a net positive. Even for people who can’t stand White and his brash management style, he’s still the devil you know. Who knows what kind of person might replace him.

One thing is for certain: If or when he walks away, there will be a ginormous void left where one of the world’s best promoters once stood. Love him or hate him, you have to recognize the importance of the role he has filled for the last 15 years. How they fill that void could be one of the more important moves they make.

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Watched “The Ultimate Fighter” since Season 7 and still do. Why is it that no else does anymore? What’s different about the show?‬‬‬ -- @KcGil4300

“The Ultimate Fighter” is an interesting subject on many levels. I’ve been unable to get through more than a couple episodes in the last seven or eight years. There are quite a few problems, the biggest one being the fact that just about every decent fighter skips the show and signs directly with the promotion.

It’s essentially a six-week tryout for fighters who aren’t good enough to sign with the UFC based on their body of work. Other than a couple of seasons where they tried to change up things -- the strawweight division for women and American Top Team-versus-Blackzilians, neither of which blew it up in the ratings -- it is the same stock reality show we’ve seen for more than a decade. There’s a reason most shows can’t keep churning out compelling content year after year; people get tired of the same old stuff.

Fox Sports 1 has been another contributing factor to the show’s viewership decline. Since moving to the network, ratings have been atrocious. The fact that FS1 stumbled out of the gate and has continued to struggle hasn’t done the tired show any favors, either. Honestly, this show’s target demo is the hardest of the hardcore fans. There’s nothing unique about it. The competitors are as anonymous as can be and, aside from White and the coaches, nobody knows or gives a flying you-know-what about any of them. As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of the show.

It played a very important role in making the sport what it is today, but it has been unnecessary for so many years now. I wish they would take it out behind the barn and put it out of its misery.

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What’s the deal with so many fighters lately campaigning for title shots while coming off losses? Look at 185 pounds, for example. -- @jaypettry

‬You can’t blame them for trying. It also doesn’t hurt when you have a cocky guy like Michael Bisping going full WWE on these guys in the media. Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman and the rest of the potential title challengers have felt the sting of Bisping’s barbed tongue and want a piece of the guy. It’s understandable.

There are always going to be some people that find themselves in the title discussion whether they deserve to be our not. Bisping probably shouldn’t have been within a mile of a crack at Rockhold after his previous thrashing, but fate shined brightly on him and he seized the opportunity. I guess you don’t really even have to limit it to guys coming off of losses. Look at Dan Henderson. He could be in line to fight Bisping after going 3-6 in his last nine fights.

Title shots are like gold in the UFC. Anything can happen in this sport, as we’ve seen time and again, and having a belt gives fighters a lot more leverage and say in how their career unfolds. It isn’t a shock people want to get in there, even if they’re not the most deserving.

Also, like I said earlier, I’m 100 percent certain they’d all like to be the one that gets to try to plug Bisping’s pie hole. He’s been entertaining as can be for those of us not on the receiving end of his smack talk, but I get why those guys want to kick his ass.

Sherdog.com Executive Editor Greg Savage can be reached by email or Twitter @TheSavageTruth. If you would like to have your question or comment answered in the weekly Postal Connections mailbag, please submit them by Wednesday evening each week.

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