Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Solution

Editor's note:  Don't read this article until you have read the previous one, as this is a continuation.  Seriously;  don't do it. Don't you fucking do it.

In a brief summary:  My last article touched on the announcement that the winner of BJ Penn and Jon Fitch will face the winner of GSP and Jake Shields.  Here are the key elements:

-This match up would be a joke.
-Dana promised (or close to) us the Super Fight between Anderson Silva and GSP
-Jake Shields and Jon Fitch are the same fighter.
-By MMA math, if GSP beat Fitch, he'll beat Shields.
-GSP moving to the middle weight division would leave the welter weight division in turmoil and with out an internationally recognized face.

At the end of the last article, I said that I had a solution (which is why I titled this article "The Solution"; great use of deductive reasoning, Genius.)

Should GSP move up to middle weight, the welterweight division will find itself with no clearly defined rankings.  The top tier fighters are "big names", but were placed strategically as antagonists to Georges St. Pierre.  With him gone, everything would fall apart.

So I offer this solution:  Do a tournament.

In business and marketing, the most effective way to be successful with a "new" idea is to be the the first one to introduce the product to the target market.  If you can't be first, your best bet at success is to take that same idea and do it better.

The UFC finds itself with a unique opportunity.

While the tournament is not a new idea, the application as a big draw (in a big show) has fallen by the wayside*.  That is, of course, until UFC competitor Strikeforce unveiled  their heavyweight Grand Prix this past Saturday night.  Strikeforce, which has had great highs and great lows ( I might be referencing Gus Johnson's lipstick), broke all of it's records, peaking at 1.1 million viewers.

Of course, many are saying that the reason the event was so successful was due to the fact that MMA legend Fedor Emilianenko was fighting in the main event.  Those same people are now saying that, since Fedor lost, the heavy weight tournament is doomed.  Many (myself included) disagree.  But that is another story.

Strikeforce has been known for it's lack of consistency. Some shows are run well, while others leave a great amount to be desired.  The UFC, with it's greater wealth of experience and brand recognition (as well as a vastly superior bank roll) can take this same winning formula and apply it to the welter weight division.

This will accomplish a number of goals:

-A tournament format would stimulate new interest in longtime UFC fans, as well as draw in new fans (especially if Dana runs the first rounds free on Spike.)
-It would set "Main Event" cards, where fans have invested interest in their favorite fighter, for months to come.  This in turn would create repeat customers of pay per view purchases.
-It will finally, finally, force Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck to face off (even if they never actually squared off, being in the same tournament would  help solve the growing enmity of the fans.)

Think about an 12 man UFC tournament that includes these guys:

-Anthony Johnson
-Jon Fitch
-Mike Swick
-Josh Koscheck
-Thiago Alves
-BJ Penn
-Martin Kampmann
-Chris Lytle
-Nate Diaz
-Diego Sanchez
-Jake Shields
-Matt Serra

It's absolutely mouth watering, and would provide stacked cards for the  rest of the year.

Why hasn't the UFC done a tournament?  People have been clamoring for it; the demand is there.  Why has it taken so long?

Look at it like this:  We, as an American society, want alternatively fueled cars.  But just because we want them, it doesn't mean we'll shell out $60,000.00 for a vehicle that runs on sunshine.  It's too much risk.

But now Strikeforce has shown how successful it can be.  It is now up to the UFC to take this same aforementioned  opportunity and turn it into gold.  Dana White, college drop out or not, is an absolute genius when it comes to business.  He knows the opportunity in front of him, so wait for it.

In welter weight or not, we'll see a tournament with in the next year.

(*Yes, I know that Belator, Sengoku, Dream, K-1, etc. run tournaments, but the average MMA fan equates MMA with the UFC.  The UFC has become synonymous with MMA- much like Clorox with bleach, or Q-tips with cotton swabs- and my goal here is to educate, not overwhelm.)

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