As news continues to emerge about the failures, debt, etc. of EliteXC with its cancellation of September show and upheaval at the top of the organization, a lot — if not everything — rides on its October 4th show on CBS. The other major contender to the UFC, Affliction, has smartened up as well. Atencio (Affliction president) now realizes he must stop giving out ridiculous contracts to his fighters and instead find a way to sell PPVs. However, at the end of the day there’s just one organization that has the prominence, the history and the established fighters to sell the type of PPV figures that it takes to be successful and that’s the UFC.
So the question begs to be asked, when will the current competitors die and when will the UFC finally have access to all fighters?
First off, I don’t believe that every organization should be disbanded. Leagues like the WEC and Cage Rage should be kept around to groom fighters, to act as the “minor leagues” so to speak much like in baseball. And the Dream promotion is a great opportunity for fighters who don’t want to fight in the U.S., who want to stay closer to home and fight in Japan. There are a whole legion of fighters right now that couldn’t care less about the UFC it seems, and are content to fight in their home country. That’s more than fine. The UFC can’t have everyone. There are far too many fighters and they deserve to have their choice of where to fight but to a certain extent.
There’s no denying that Affliction, EliteXC and ……. are going to disappear in the near future, it’s just a question of when. And it seems like the most recent rumors could be spelling an early death to each.
First, let’s address the rumor of Randy Couture returning to the UFC with a new 3-fight contract that could include a fight with Fedor. It appears that really its just a question of when this will happen much like every thing else in this post. Couture is already preparing for a fight which could be against Brock Lesnar at UFC 81 which would make a lot of sense. But if the UFC can come to an agreement with Fedor to fight Couture in the 2nd of his 3-fight deal it could mean that Affliction will disappear. The key is Couture. ‘The Natural’ has big-time drawing power and by fighting Fedor he could propel Fedor into that same category, as fighters that can sell out stadiums and sell large numbers of PPVs.
The other thing is what does this do for Affliction? Right now they are preparing for an October 11th show where Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett are fighting for the chance to face Fedor and win the WAMMA heavyweight strap. Does that potential fight get pushed back or does it happen as scheduled in February of ’09? That would be Affliction’s third show and the last of their initial plan. Will it be enough for them to decide to continue on?
Or will they allow Fedor to fight Couture in the UFC, benefit from his rise in star-power and promote their third show with Fedor against Arlovski/Barnett winner there after?
Obviously Affliction could hold out and prove harder to kill than the UFC would like, but I believe the Couture signing with UFC severely hurts Affliction.
Next, there’s the rumor that CBS is in talks with the UFC about a TV deal (obviously). What this shows is CBS realizes that EliteXC is on its way out and the UFC is the only organization with staying power. Without a tv deal, ProElite will no longer be able to function, especially when it is already struggling to find advertisers and sell out shows.
Of course, this has been rumored before. The UFC has turned down prospective tv deals with HBO and CBS because it wasn’t getting what it wanted in return so it may still not happen. Sooner or later, though, the UFC will step on the throats of its two main competitors and it’s at least interesting to look at where things are now and how in 4 or 5 short months the landscape of MMA could be completely altered.