Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Is UFC a Monopoly?

from Lotfi Sariahmed of 411mania.com

With UFC 73 just a few days away, I've noticed a lot of talk regarding one particular issue that has a lot of MMA fans shouting from their rooftops. Now mind you for MMA fans, myself included, that usually doesn't take much. But in this case there's an interesting debate. There's no doubt that UFC 73 is a loaded fight card with even a few fights on the prelims that fans want to see. The next few UFC PPV cards look promising as well with fights like Georges St. Pierre v. Josh Koscheck, Quinton Jackson v. Dan Henderson, a long awaited welterweight title fight and the debut of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. But despite all the great matches coming up, there's one thing about these cards that have some MMA fans worried. They're all taking place in the UFC.

With at least 75% of the best fighters in every weight class, (and that's a low number) the UFC has a virtual monopoly on talent. So where does that leave us when it comes to the issue of competitive balance in MMA?

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Despite the general decline in sports tv ratings, including the recent NHL and NBA finals, there is still one sport that continues to gain in popularity. No, not NASCAR, which has also suffered ratings decline. Its MMA (mixed martial arts) leagues such as the UFC and WEC. The UFC's Ultimate Fighter 5 finale recently earned a 2.0 rating for Spike TV.

What do the UFC, WEC and PRIDE all have in common? They are all owned by the same company. Recently, the UFC bought out both PRIDE and WEC, effectively preventing rival leagues from broadcasting its fights on Versus. Is this consolodation of talent good for the sport? While it may be good for fans, it can't be good news for the fighters, who now have less options than ever.

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