ARE INJURIES COSTING MMA FANS?
Injuries are causing the sport to suffer. Bigtime.
In fact, I can’t think of an event in recent memory that went without a hitch. I’m sure they exist, but the perception that a lot of the current UFC’s have failed to launch has even affected my view on successful cards, I’m sure I’m not the only one. The constant string of cancellations/rescheduling/rebooking/relaunching have caused many a fan to be wary of upcoming cards. It’s no surprise either, if you peruse the recent lineup of injuries you’d find notables like Jose Aldo, Rampage Jackson, Vladimir Matyushenko, Dan Henderson, and our latest inductee, Frank Mir.
We’re barely treading water here, even the diehard MMA fanatics have had it up to their Tapout caps.
This rash of MMA injuries has put a nearly-fatal damper on the excitement we normally expect in modern day Mixed Martial Arts, which is especially bad news in an era that seems to be seeing a downturn in enthusiasm for the sport. The Ultimate Fighter opened to less viewers than any of the previous seasons, the first UFC event was cancelled, several top fighters are shelved from competing for various reasons, and worst of all, there is no guarantee that future cards aren’t in the same jeopardy as has been the track record for the past year. It couldn’t possibly be worse.
The UFC goes through a great deal of trouble to arrange their cards. The promotion process lasts several months, and fan interest is generally peaked by commercials, aired promos and catchy adspace, only to be seemingly stamped out before the big fight. It has gotten to the point that fans are expecting fighters to pull out long before they ever see the event. To add to this, the fighters pulling out are generally considered at the top of the food chain. Jose Aldo is champion, Dan Henderson was #1 contender, Mir was scheduled to fight Daniel Cormier for the Strikeforce championship etc etc.
Make no mistake, the biggest cost for the UFC is not Pay-Per-View dollars, attendance records or even money for the fighters. The biggest cost for the UFC and Mixed Martial Arts in general are the fans. If the cards aren’t reliable then the fans don’t purchase events, nor should they. Interest is waning because of the UFC’s seeming inability to get the big fights to happen. We are more apt to bet on who’s going to pull out than who’s going to win a fight. At this point, the UFC is hemorrhaging more fans than money, and if a better way of controlling the level of injuries isn’t found the situation will only escalate. It’s extremely difficult to invest in events you don’t expect to ever come to fruition, and that alone is a big hindrance when it comes to getting viewers to tune in.
In order to pull out of this slump the UFC must get their marquee fighters back in the ring. Only pairing big names with big fights that actually happen will win back the trust of the MMA audience. You can’t get the fans to buy cards where they have no idea who’s going to be on them by the time the event comes to pass, nor can you pass off inferior fights as superior product.
Injuries are a fact of life in any sport, but combat sports live and breath off of the performances of it’s top players. The game doesn’t go on if the best don’t show up to the party.
It’s time to get them back in there.