So, big news — a group of fighters, journalists and promoters held a press conference yesterday to announce the creation of a new MMA sanctioning body called the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts (WAMMA), which would rank the top ten fighters in nine different weight divisions and arrange cross-promotional fights to recognize unified champions. Involved in this
pipe dream noble undertaking are MMA guru Pat Miletich, UFC legend Don Frye, ex-wrestler/commentator Bill Goldberg, and ProElite.com/FiveOuncesofPain.com’s Sam Caplan, who will chair the rankings committee. WAMMA’s president and CEO will be Dave Szady, a former FBI assistant director with no MMA credentials; the guy doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Speaking of which, I’d include a link to WAMMA’s official website, but I couldn’t find it. WAMMA.com doesn’t work, and WAMMA.org really, really doesn’t work (trust me).
(Before we delve even further into this thing, I’d like to point out that the image at the top of this post is not there because of my own laziness; I didn’t do a google image search for “rainbow gloves unity six fingers” and take the first result. That’s the WAMMA’s actual, official logo, which was designed by LeRoy Neiman, who your grandfather might be familiar with. It’s a little lightweight, if you ask me, and not in a juiced-up Sean Sherk kind of way. At any rate, Neiman does have a Wikipedia page.)
As you’d imagine, Dana White isn’t too keen on having his fighters appear outside of the Octagon. In a USA Today report, White is quoted as saying that WAMMA “is exactly what this sport doesn’t need. They’re just another group of guys looking to make some money and get a piece of the pie.”
An MMA sanctioning body could potentially be great for fans, but without the UFC’s participation, it would be absolutely useless. And it’s hard to deny that there’s some truth to Dana’s argument. From a report on Sherdog:
…WAMMA, a for-profit corporation, would make money through the sponsors it brings to the table. A promotion would still host the fight, Szady explained, but WAMMA, for instance, could have a sponsor advertised on the ring canvas.
Szady also plans on world championship belts with a sponsor’s name on it for each division. He offered a few hypothetical examples, saying the top two fighters in a weight class could meet for the WAMMA-Budweiser title, the WAMMA-Toyota title or the WAMMA-Hooter’s title.
“For the record,” joked WAMMA founding partner Bill Goldberg, “I’m already the WAMMA-Hooter’s world champion.”
Szady believes this sanctioning process appeals to promotions because it can create mega-fights that will make mega-bucks for everyone involved.
Dear Lord. Yesterday, we lauded the the IFL/YouTube deal as forward-thinking and “new model.” Well, this “Budweiser world champion” business is truly some old model bullshit. So far, all WAMMA has is a clever idea to turn a buck; without the participation of every single MMA league, they don’t have two pennies to rub together. Still, some more unity within mixed martial arts would be a wonderful thing. As Don Frye said in the USA Today article, “This will take the power out of the hands of the promoters. We need some structure. Right now we’re looking like the bastard child of the sports industry.”