We can all agree that mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the last 20 to 25 years. Its has come from the murky shadows of the underground scene to its prime time slots on national syndicated TV. During this meteoric rise of the sport many organizations after the UFC have tried to get a piece of this large growing pie. This is a very good thing for the sport even though you may think the competition in these other promotion may not be the creme de la creme of the fighting world. But I would argue differently. Each one of these organizations have a different type of feel and motive to them. For example the UFC is still building fights with star power, trash talk and flooding the market with their version of the product. Which in all fairness is the leading product in the mixed martial arts industry. The UFC has learned over the years how to build fighters slowly and feed us them over a period of time until they become extremely recognizable and either loved or hated by the fans. They also understand how to ride the tidal wave of sudden star power when it hits, enter Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor. With the UFC doing its thing so well its not hard to see why the sport has grown in monumental fashion or why the UFC is now a multi billion dollar entity.
Lets go on to the next longest running recognizable promotion, Bellator. Bellator has been around for a good little while now. It use to be viewed as the UFC’s little brother in a sense. But now with new leadership under Scott Coker , the former president of Strike Force. It has brought some much needed clout to its name. By adding big names that are still in there prime and older ones that can still compete at a high level. They have begun to raise there quality of competition. They have brought back Grand Prix style tournaments that take place throughout the year culminating with a winner receiving two belts. One as the champion of the tournament and one has the champion of that weight division. They have really done a good job setting up matches during the tournament that are very eye catching and intriguing. They should be able to duplicate this and keep there share of the pie just fine, if not gain some pieces of it.
Professional Fighters League or PFL to make it easier, lol. PFL just signed a deal to continue to appear on ESPN’s family of networks. Yes . its the same station that the UFC has a huge deal with. This will not hurt PFL in anyway because the dynamics between the two promotions are completely different. PFL has a very unique set up to its promotion. They are the first to incorporate a regular season and a playoff for it’s fighters to take part in. And more importantly the PFL puts up 1 million dollars to the winner of the Playoffs in each weight category. That’s a game changer! This attracts many types of fighters. Some high level fighters that are on the tale end of their career trying to set up for retirement. Some young gunners looking to make good money quick and get their name out there. And some fighters that are just better off in this type of organization then others. The way the season works is: Each fighter has 3 regular season fights earning points for victories and bonus points for finishes. Loses earn zero points. After the regular season the top 8 point earning fighters qualify for the playoff with the last man standing in each weight category winning that big bad prize of a million smackeroos. This format makes for exciting fights and incentives finishes which play to the fan base very well. This promotion is unique in every aspect and should be able to hang around for quite sometime. If you didn’t watch last season you missed out on some great fights and very exciting moments in mma.
On to the Asian giant ONE FC. This promotion is gonna be a mainstay for a very long time. It has a big foot hold in the Asian market just like Pride FC and Dream before it. ONE promotes more of a martial arts way then any of the other organizations above. They are all about honor and integrity with respect for each fighter. They do not promote fights with profane language or crazy trash talk. Instead they find the best fighters in the world that fits their standard as not only a competitor/fighter but also has person. The Asian fan market is different then here in the states for one they are generally more knowledgeable and they respect the fight game much more. For example during fights in Japan the crowd is completely silent until something exciting happens. Then you hear a cheer and back to silence, as if they are studying and listening to the fighters coaches as the watch. And unless you do something dishonorable to earn your victory, you most likely will only hear cheers never boos. They truly embrace and respect every fighter that enters to compete and put their body on the line. ONE FC is back by one of the wealthiest companies in the world and has a great platform to continue to build their brand. ONE has a free app the you can download on iPhone or android and watch all the events for free. They are force to watch out for from here on out.
So wrap this up and put a bow on it. Lets just say this is a great time to be a mixed martial arts fan. Embrace and support whatever promotion you choose but just know , we do truly need them all and each has a place in the mma landscape.