The name of this post should tell you that there are three more parts. Links to all can be found at the end of this post.

Now, Part 4 is actually part 2 of part 3… confused?
Let’s sort it out.
In “Fixing MMA – Part 3” I posited that our favorite sport is taking a turn in the wrong direction. That due to financial reasons (both on the fighters’ part as well as the owners’), the focus shifted – mainly in 2016 – from competition, sport and winning titles, to making money and impact (in terms of exposure).

Here are a few examples. All collected in the last couple of weeks:

  • Cody Garbrandt – who just won the BW title on December 30th! – is not really interested in defending his belt against TJ Dillashaw (a former champion, and the most deserving contender in my opinion). Why? Because according to Mr. Garbrandt – TJ doesn’t sell pay per views… Really?
  • Joe Rogan thinks that the biggest fight UFC can make is Nick Diaz Vs. Conor McGregor… because two fights against Nate, which were fun in and of themselves but really irrelevant to anything title related weren’t enough… Also in the same video, he plays UFC208 main event down, because the ladies involved (in an inaugural title fight no less…) are not “Ronda Rousey-esque”… way to go Joe.
  • Jacare, a worthy middleweight contender (who in my humble opinion should’ve gotten the title shot over Yoel Romero who cheats) was so desperate for a fight, he went to Craigslist… all the while, Michael Bisping is also looking for them money fights (Nick Diaz? GSP? Tyron Woodley?)
  • Nate Diaz wants 20 Millions to fight now…

It goes on and on…

I promised to come up with a suggestion of how to “fix” this. I also said, I’m not entirely sure how. But I will muse out loud and I hope to hear some feedback. Here’s a suggestion:
  • Create a scale of base payment for fighters.
  • Start it in the spirit of other professional sports, with a rookie contract. That should be valid for the first say… 3 fights (which in most cases is the first year).
  • After the rookie contract expires, set the base salary based on ranking. This should be a significant improvement over rookie salary mind you. It has to be worth the while for anyone from the mid-tier to the less than stellar.
  • Add experience factor so anyone, including these folks who are entertaining, though not title threatening can make a living.
  • Give fighters a cut from the gate and/or PPV sales. It doesn’t have to be millions. But show them the gratitude they deserve as the ones actually drawing these people who come and pay to watch them.
  • It goes without saying that performance based bonuses should continue to be given (perhaps even more).
  • Then you got your Conors and Rondas. They are not many. Give them something extra. They help boost your business. Give them some kind of a dividend. Something beyond the reward for fighting. They earn you money.
  • Schedule fights that matter to title contendership and progression of fighters in the ranks. That should be the guideline. Make a condition for anyone attempting to win a second belt – defend your current one once or twice before that’s allowed. Let’s get back to the sport.
  • Don’t forget to BUILD new stars. How can UFC stand there and talk about this one or the other being a star and the other not? MAKE HIM/HER a star. You have Holm Vs. de randamie coming up for a new title for crying out loud. One of them will be YOUR champion. YOU need to MAKE them stars! Call Vince McMahon and ask how Triple H became a big name (no, not marriage. A push.)
Now, I hear the choir of naysayers – but we want fun fights!
Sure. Let’s look at the consensus fights of 2016 as posted by UFC and other MMA outlets. While the internal rankings may differ slightly between fights, these are the fights:
Esther Lin photo

Esther Lin photo

  • Cub Swanson-Dooho Choi
  • Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz II
  • Robbie Lawler-Carlos Condit
  • Steve Bosse-Sean O’Connell
  • Tyron Woodley-Stephen Thompson
  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk-Claudia Gadelha II
  • Polo Reyes-“Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim
  • Donald Cerrone-Matt Brown
  • Tony Ferguson-Rafael Dos Anjos
  • Robert Whittaker-Derek Brunson
Honorable Mention: Tony Ferguson-Lando Vannata, Joseph Benavidez-Henry Cejudo, Nate Diaz-Conor McGregor I, Josh Barnett-Andrei Arlovski, Dominick Cruz-TJ Dillashaw
ONE of these was a “money fight”. ONE.
The rest, were “just some fighters doing battle” or legitimate title fights between champion and the most deserving title contender at the time.
We can have tons of fun, while fighters work to achieve their goals and GET PAID.
I’m sure there’s much more that can be done. I’m sure my suggested solution has holes. Let’s poke them here. I’d love to hear what you think.
Does this make sense?
What are the holes in my plan?
How can we get back to sport?

For previous episodes of “Fixing MMA” See:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

One thought on “Fixing MMA – Part Four

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