(Just a couple of poor boys fighting over scraps of food and tens of thousands of dollars.)
This week I debated MMA writer/Army officer Kelly Crigger on a number of MMA-related topics (what’s that, sounds suspiciously like our Ben vs. Ben feature? Yeah, tell it to Crigger, *cough*ripoff*cough), but the one where we seemed to differ the most revolved around whether the WEC can now make a successful transition to pay-per-view. Kelly argues yes, pointing to the excitement provided by the last WEC event and the need to improve fighter pay in Zuffa’s little guy organization. He’s right, of course. They have been putting on good shows lately and Mike Brown does deserve a raise, but it doesn’t mean I’m personally prepared to give it to him.
Why? Take a look at the upcoming WEC 42 lineup, for instance. As far as I can tell, there’s one fight worth paying for on that card, and it’s the main event bout between Miguel Torres and Brian Bowles. Aside from that you’ve got Joseph Benavidez vs. Dominic Cruz, Ricardo Lamas vs. Danny Castillo, and Takeya Mizugaki vs. Jeff Curran.
I realize that this is a card they aren’t asking us to pay for, and they might well stack a pay-per-view with more stars (last time I checked, though, they only had three), but the point is they just don’t have the depth worth paying for. They have a couple of guys who are big among hardcore fans. And those hardcore fans are already strapped from buying UFC pay-per-views and TapouT beds.
What’s more, fans are already used to getting this product for free (with a cable TV package). You know what happens when you take something that’s free and ask people to pay for it? They get mad at you. Ask any (non-porn) website that has tried to transition to a subscription-based format. You have to improve the quality drastically if you’re going to ask people to pay for something you used to give away, and I don’t see how the WEC can do that with its current roster.
Like Crigger, I’d love to see WEC fighters get paid more. Just not enough to pay them myself. But maybe that’s just me. Anyone out there willing to shell out a few bucks for regular WEC pay-per-views? If so, how much would you realistically pay to see the little fella’s beat the hell out of each other, and how often?