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Thoughts On MMA Oversaturation And Organization Co-Promoting

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Josh Gross over at SI wrote about the future of MMA in 2010 and Bloodyelbow's Kid Nate summed it up and and added his own commentary:

  1. Oversaturation of the television market. More than 100 live fight cards will be aired in 2010 -- on

    Spike TV, HDNet, Showtime, Versus, CBS, Fox Sports and pay-per-view.

  2. The UFC's refusal to co-promote means that fights that should have happened, like Randy Couture vs Fedor Emelianenko, didn't and fights that still need to happen, like B.J. Penn vs Shinya Aoki, won't. Instead we'll get B.J. Penn against the likes of Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, etc.

These are serious problems and I'm not feeling optimistic. Tell me why I'm wrong in the comments.

Gross comes out strongly in favor of co-promotion. I've long felt that was the future of the sport, but for a minute there in August 2009, it looked like Dana White would prove me wrong by signing Fedor Emelianenko. 

Follow me after the jump.

In regards to point #1, I'd be willing to bet that there's a ton of overlap between the MMA audiences on Spike, Versus, HDNet, and Showtime.  CBS only features MMA once in a blue moon, and Fox Sports will begin airing the sport in April.  Now the key point is a quality product, which we've yet to see consistently from anyone besides the UFC.  If the UFC, Strikeforce, WEC, and Bellatorput out a quality product with good fights, I don't foresee saturation being a problem especially with the majority of these events being on FREE tv.  I mean we just had TUF 10 to air an entire season around the hype of one guy that lost on the third show.  However, if you take Kimbo off the show, I'd be willing to bet that the season would still have averaged about the same amount of viewers as years past(over a million viewers) and this was the 10th edition of TUF.  Not to mention all of the childish antics, alcohol induced, and horrible fights we all endured through 10 seasons.  People still watch the show.  Now PPV is a different animal and there is room for saturation because the consumer is expected to pay for the event.  However, the UFC is currently the only organization that fields PPV events.  Strikeforce and the WEC are talking about it, but nothing is concrete as of right now.  The odds of them doing more than 2-3 PPV events a year isn't very high either which would help limit saturation in that department.

In regards to point #2, I've never been a fan of co-promotion simply because I don't think there's a way for both promotions to prosper equally.  I mean do we really think Strikeforce and M-1 split things down the middle?  Just take a look at what Alistair Overeem is doing to Strikeforce while continually fighting for K-1.  How does the DREAM/Strikeforce alliance help either promotion?  Yes, they can exchange fighters but I don't think it's possible for fighters to become stars in that fashion.  The UFC has well over the majority of the best fighters under their umbrella, as long as they keep it that way there's no need for them to co-promote in my opinion. 

In regards to fights we missed out on due to the UFC unwilling to co-promote.  The Fedor/Couture fight is a fight that wasn't worth co-promoting in my opinion(trust me I wrote about it at the time because I thought it was a mis-match).  Also, BJ Penn fighting Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard would probably be more competitive than Penn/Aoki.  I mean could the UFC just bring Aoki in and give him a shot right off the bat against BJ Penn?  No because nobody in America knows who Shinya Aoki is.  They would have to introduce him to the American fans in a bout the same way they'll do Takanori Gomi.  Then what if Aoki lost in his first fight?  That would be that.  Now Fedor would be a little different because he has fought on CBS and he has fought on PPV before, not to mention all the PRIDE footage the UFC has access to for promotional purposes.  He is also recognized as the undisputed #1 HW in the world.  Not to mention he would fighting one of the most recognizable faces in the sport in Brock Lesnar.  They could give him a title shot right out of the gates.  If he won though, would he be required to defend the UFC belt or would he just go back to Strikeforce or what?

Who's gonna pay to promote the event?  Who's going to pay the salaries.  Who's going to get what percentage of the live gate?  Who's going to get what percentage of the PPV?  What happens if your fighter beats our fighter?   There's a lot more to it than just agreeing to co-promote.

Give me your thoughts on co-promoting and oversaturation in the MMA world.