Recently, a very interesting notion has been circulating in the MMA world: if the apex of a mixed martial artist’s career is to move to another sport, then what kind of future can anyone hope for? Now this has already been asserted by fighters, and it seems the media is slowly catching on. Obviously, this has stemmed from the all-encompassing face-off between McGregor and Mayweather. Trying to remain relevant in the game and staying at the top is clearly in the interests of a promotion. Bellator MMA has been showing real promise as of late. Producing big numbers with their most recent event Bellator 180 from MSG, in NYC. Still, the UFC is dominating the airwaves, while dictating taste and setting standards for how MMA is viewed. Perhaps why it is so important for the UFC to ensure the legacy of mixed martial arts. Of course, this also occurs from athletes standing out, drawing in an audience, and growing into legends.
More interesting, is how hard MMA promotions have struggled to establish a star. Ronda Rousey burned out like a dying sun, poster boy Sage Northcutt may have been slightly over-promoted, and now Connor McGregor has completely left the MMA and gone to boxing. All the while holding onto a UFC belt, and keeping a close eye on his former featherweight division. It’d be nice to see the UFC push a little harder to put belief back into the sport by fostering their talents.
George St-Pierre has supposedly been returning for years, and if B.J. Penn’s most recent outings prove anything, it’s that a fighter can only go for so long. Carrying the stardom of an MMA promotion is even harder. So why not push for people willing to stay within the sport to get into the main events? And more than anything, why not get them a fair paycheck for it? There is so much talent that if properly nurtured, could cement MMA and the UFC as titans of the sporting world, along with the NHL, MLB, NBA and dare I say NFL.
So why not appease the fighters like Nate Diaz? They’ll bring in revenue, just like McGregor. And clearly the UFC is going to have to pay the Irishman more when he returns to the octagon. There are great fighters like Tony Ferguson and Al Iaquinta being under utilized and seriously neglected because the UFC isn’t looking to compensate fighters, but stars. Hopefully those who essentially “hold all the power” can find the value in preserving and respecting this still maturing sport.
By: Ehren Baker