One thing that the UFC used to be able to do with ease was control the news cycles. When there was a fight coming up you knew that the fight was coming up because it was everywhere, everyone was talking about it and they did a great job of making sure that we all knew. Somewhere along the way that changed and the news cycles became erratic, amorphous and fluid to the situation. The fight coming up this weekend doesn’t matter as much as the one in a few months, so why bother with the one this weekend?
Last weekend’s card in Albuquerque was alright, not great, but not awful either, yet the news cycle had very little to do with Diego Sanchez or Benson Henderson, instead last week’s focus was on Jon Jones. Would Jon Jones sign to fight Alexander Gustafsson? Would Jon Jones fight Daniel Cormier instead? Will Cormier get surgery on his knees? Will Gustafsson and Cormier meet for an interim title? Those were the topics that fans cared about, those were the stories that dominated the news cycle and that fight won’t happen until September.
This weekend is UFC 174 and while it could be understandable to say that a UFC Fight Night card gets overshadowed by the UFC’s biggest male star in Jon Jones, UFC 174 is a numbered PPV event that you’ll have to pay for. You’ll have to put down your hard earned money to see it and the card is nowhere near their strongest. In fact, it’s about on the level of recent Fight Night events, which is a bit of an issue. Thusly, no one is really talking about the event, instead, the news cycle this week is all about UFC 175.
Why UFC 175? Because Chael Sonnen failed his drug test leading into UFC 175, after Wanderlei Silva ran away from a drug test for UFC 175 and where Vitor Belfort had to replace him. It has been chaos. Hell, now Chael Sonnen has announced his retirement from MMA. How can a mediocre UFC card compete with this kind of news? Well, it can’t. It’s Wednesday evening right now and I can’t think of a single big MMA story leading into this weekend’s fights, although I’m sure the media will begin pushing UFC 174 starting maybe tomorrow — maybe they never will though — it is a possibility.
You can easily argue that the UFC holding so many events is a part of the problem, but I think the bigger problem is the way that they are promoted right now. The UFC refuses to admit that some events are not as big as others, only that some events are bigger than others. This has led to only promoting the next event once they have completed their current one. Take into account that they have so many cards now, they have completely lost control of the news cycle at this point and it is a mad scramble to find stories that fans care about and want to read in lieu of caring about upcoming fight cards.
If they’d focus on instead having weekly fight cards on Fox Sports 1 and would just promote “UFC Fight Night” as a weekly staple for fans it would be less confusing, less tiresome and fans wouldn’t need to know who is fighting on what card because they’d know that UFC Fight Night was happening on x-night at x-time and they’d just tune in to watch it. They’d have the ability to focus on their bigger events that they want you to pay money or attention to while not having to worry about these smaller cards.
The news cycle getting away from them would be less of an issue. For right now, though, the UFC is in chaos and seems to be losing its grasp daily on ever-meandering fan interest. UFC 174 is this weekend and it doesn’t seem like anyone cares. That’s kind of crazy.