It’s no secret that since the downfall of PRIDE, the UFC has become the top MMA organization in the world. In fact, the UFC has basically branded North American mixed martial arts. It’s so branded in fact, that when I tell the average person that I’m going to my “MMA class”, I get nothing but a look of confusion. I then sigh out of frustration and say “Ultimate Fighting”. They’ll usually reply with “ooh.. Ultimate Fighting .. yes yes, I know what that is”.
The UFC is a great promotion. They’ve taken a spectacle that the general public viewed as nothing more than “human cock-fighting” and turned it into a legitimate sport. The appeal of mixed martial arts isn’t going anywhere and the sport will continue to grow. At the moment, the UFC is leading the way and is looking solid – the heavyweight division being the only exception.
The UFC currently has only 3 of the top 10 heavyweights under contract. Most have – at one point or another – either fought for the UFC or have been through the negotiation process. The contract disputes between the worlds best heavyweights and the UFC have presented a tremendous opportunity for the upstart promotions that are looking to compete with the UFC.
Affliction, which makes debut on July 19th, has a stacked fight card full of ranked heavyweights. Later today, it is rumoured that Donald Trump will announce the recent signing of Andrei Arlovski, and most likely, his involvement in the upstart promotion.
Competing with billionaire financial backers of rival MMA organizations isn’t new to the UFC. However, throughout the history of combat sports, the heavyweight fighters have always been the biggest draw. The UFC has had great success marketing their light-heavyweight division with the likes of Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz among others, however, the universal appeal of the heavyweight fighters is that the champion is regarded as the toughest man in the world.
With 4 of the top 10 heavyweights on ONE card, the Affliction promotion looks rather promising. It should be interesting to see how all this plays out. One thing is for sure though, when rival companies compete for our business – we (the fans) are the winners.