(MMA’s heyday, according to at least one guy.)
“The night is always darkest before the dawn.” — Two-Face, quoting Plato or some shit.
MMA is facing a crisis, Nation. Or so we’re being told. Not one of irrelevance, a lack of funding, or societal ignorance like it faced during the so-called “Dark Ages,” but one of complacency, of apathy. Over the past several years, we have seen the sport rise to a level of popularity we previously thought unattainable. With more major network deals, cross-promotion with major brands, and movies featuring UFC stars popping up by the day, it’s hard to argue that MMA is exactly struggling to generate interest amongst fans.
But somewhere between the death of Strikeforce and the Fight Pass subscriptions, MMA (or at least, its premiere organization) reached a tipping point. Despite an ever-burgeoning roster, the quality of the average card started to slip. Viewership began to decline. Truly “stacked” cards started to come further and further between, as did the number of marketable stars present on them.
While the UFC was busy making efforts to dominate the fucking world, its stateside presence slowly began to diminish with each lackluster “Fight Night” card, the majority of which have been spread across three channels and subscriptions-only networks. It isn’t helping that the UFC is now nickel and diming those of us hoping to watch their international events and prelims, adding to the growing “UFC is in trouble” sentiment among fans. The UFC has gotten greedy, and our view of the sport has slowly begun to shift from optimistic to apathetic as a result.
Is it simply a case of the UFC expanding too fast and oversaturating it’s niche market, as many followers of the sport will tell you? Or have fans simply lost interest in the sport now that it has become a globally recognized, increasingly expensive commodity?
Actually, the answer is a firm “no” to both of those questions. MMA is NOT rapidly descending into the watered-down, passionless, corporate-sponsored hellscape we all think it is, and everyone needs to man (or woman) the fuck up and stop acting like the sport is a lost cause.