For years the UFC has been the premiere promotion for mixed martial arts. With other organizations like Bellator and Professional Fighters League also showing success, housing great world champions, and great up-and-coming prospects, what does that mean for the landscape of MMA?
PFL just signed a 2-year deal with ESPN and they will be aired on ESPN and ESPN+ alongside the UFC and Bellator continues to put on phenomenal cards. So would MMA benefit to go from promotions to promoters and fully use the blueprint of boxing?
I’m not so sure, so here is why the sport of MMA should stay the way it is.
In the sport of boxing we see some good unification fights at times which is the benefit of having promoters with their own promotion. They are allowed to work with other promotions as long as the networks that televise them allow it. Boxing has been around for 100 years and at times has been accused of being a corrupt sport because of the power these promoters have. Another issue I think is huge in the world of boxing is that it has too many world titles because of the sanction bodies. A few sanction bodies that have major world titles are the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO.
Not only do we have those world titles, those sanction bodies also have interim titles and with so many top boxers and promoters and networks it makes it incredibly hard to keep up with, unless you are a die-hard fan. I personally think the sanction bodies have too many mandatory challengers as each one has its own ranking system. This proves a challenge because we never know who should truly fight for their belt and who the top fighters are.
Another reason MMA should stay the way it is, is both Bellator and PFL are growing. They have some amazing elite fighters and very good up-and-coming prospects. I like the idea of fighters that are dominant in Bellator or PFL jumping over to the UFC and seeing how great they truly are. The goal should be simple for every fighter: be dominant enough to make it to the big stage, the UFC.
Of course with negatives, there are positives in this too. Here are the benefits of fully adopting the blueprint of boxing:
Imagine a world where the sport of MMA switches to promoters instead of promotions? It could potentially help the sport because we could really be able to tell what fighters are the best in the world, since fighters that are not dominant in the UFC will go to Bellator, ONE FC, Invicta FC, or PFL and dominate. There aren’t as many popular MMA promotions as there are in boxing, so in the beginning, finding the best of the best will be easy. If you think about it, what does that really mean if they aren’t dominant in another promotion? Let that one settle in a bit.
I feel this could absolutely help with increasing the pay of fighters because it’s not just one company paying them. It would be the promoters, the network, and their sponsors. We will see more promoters working together and a free agency that is intriguing to follow. Imagine a world where Dana White, Scott Coker and these other amazing promoters work together? It would truly be something special to watch. We could even have more MMA trades like the Demetrious Johnson/Ben Askren deal that happened in 2018.
All in all, some big fights could be made and instead of having two fighters under the same promotion fight each other all the time, we can see UFC vs. Bellator matchups and many more come to fruition. Whether MMA adopts the boxing blueprint or not, it goes without saying that today is the best time to be a MMA fan. There is so much happening and much more to come.