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Old 03-24-2011, 05:28 PM
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Default Josh Gross: UFC Proved Me Wrong on Co-Promotion as the Best Model

Realllly long article from FightOpinion.com referncing an interview from Sherdog.com. Josh tends to ramble a lot, so I tried to just bold the key points in each section.


I didnít get a chance to listen to this interview from last week with Josh Gross until now, but itís well worth your time to check it out. (It is a little over 35 minutes long.) There are some interesting points made throughout the interview, including a couple that I think are debatable.

His first point is that UFC buying out Strikeforce is a bigger deal than UFC buying out the PRIDE assets.
I think, yes, itís a much bigger deal than the PRIDE deal. The PRIDE deal, at the time, was an important deal and itís a very big deal, too. But this one, I think, is more important for what it portends to down the road. The Strikeforce deal suggests that there really isnít a competitor out there where fighters can have someone to go to and legitimately negotiate a deal against, you know, so fighters are now put in a position in the most basic sense theyíre negotiating against themselves and their only leverage is, essentially, their talent, their promotional visibility which is largely dictated by the person theyíre trying to negotiate with and sort of how they appeal to fans, really. Itís a much more difficult situation for fighters. Some fighters will thrive. The best fighters in the world will do very well and theyíll make a lot of money and, you know what, they probably deserve it. I think what the UFC did by creating this, yeah, itís not a monopoly, monopoly is the wrong word, people tend to use it. But they definitely have control over the industry in such a way that theyíve created a league and sort of their own sport in a way because while they run under Unified Rules and they do Mixed Martial Arts, itís really self-contained now.
I understand his viewpoint that by buying out Strikeforce, UFC eliminated their only threat remaining in the MMA íspaceí as far as locking up the best talent and killing a potential PPV threat. However, the talent Strikeforce had is, outside of a few fighters, not comparable to what PRIDE presented when they sold their deal to Zuffa. Zuffa buying PRIDE essentially wiped out the most important foreign market (at the time) for MMA and they brought in a lot of talented fighters into the mix for UFC fights. PRIDE ran a PPV in Las Vegas and they were going to do some things but it all proved to be was a smokescreen for Nobuyuki Sakakibara to sell, sell, sell.

Joshís second point is that UFC buying out Strikeforce finally creates a market scenario that UFC had been claiming they were in but now can truly say they are in.
Itís the creation of something that theyíve said they were all along but they finally are it is the way that I see it. They always said they were the NFL of Mixed Martial Arts but they are that now, you know, Dana White is the sport, like the de facto commissioner, heís not just the President of the UFC, you know. Thereís a lot of good that come from this. I donít think, you know, those of us like you and I who want to see the best fighters fight and know who the best fighter in the world is, this is terrific. This accomplishes that, generally, I think. I think almost in every case youíll see the best fighters coming together in bouts and thatís terrific for fans, itís much easier for fans to understand now. You know, there was always that brand confusion, people didnít know what other parts of the sport were and they immediately diminished them as good so I think a lot of great fighters have been fighting under the radar for a long time and now they get that spotlight, which is really positive for them. But the negative on the fightersí side and, you know, weíll see where else it shakes out. The consumer, Iím sure, at some point is going to be asked to spend more on PPVs. I mean, thatís just the way this thing works. Theyíre spending a lot of money and theyíre making a lot of money.
Will fans be willing to spend more on PPVs? I think the price structure is already at a tipping point and canít go much further.

Josh brings up the opinion that a Zuffa-dominant industry presents more positives than negatives for the fans, even though there is a lot of fear and loathing amongst talent right now.
I think itís a positive. It moves the sport to even a higher place, one thatís easier to understand that allows for the best fights to happen. None of that is bad, thatís all very good. Itís just when you start to peel the layers away, what does it actually mean in terms of the person and the company control, the power that they wieldÖ Then you start, you know, a lot of people are scared. A lot of people are scared by this deal, so I mean just talking to people in the industry, fighters and managers, not all of them clearly. Some of them are very excited and they see this as a great thing. But not all of them do, a lot of them are concerned about the power structure in the sport, how fighters will really sort of have any negotiating power in the way that the format is setup, the percentage of the money going to the UFC versus where the fighters are getting it, thereís lots of issues coming up and even larger ones that Iím not qualified to talk about. I donít really know that much about anti-trust, how much do we know about anti-trust really? But these are catch-words that weíre going to start hearing more and more and whether they go anywhere, I have no idea. When Lorenzo Fertitta says, you know, theyíve been laying the groundwork for this move, he doesnít mean just gobbling up promoters or, you know, spreading themselves out on television so they have more negotiating rights on TV, theyíve been lobbying in D.C. for years on anti-trust issues and other issues as well. So, this is what theyíve designed to do all along and then they are prepared for it, itís going to be difficult for any kind of (lawsuit) to hold up against them, I think, but my sense is people may try.
The tone of the interview was really interesting because Josh has been as big of a supporter of co-promotion amongst rival promoters (similar to boxing) for as long as I can remember. He has now officially changed his stance.
As far as where people have been overreacting, I havenít seen a lot of it so I donít know exactly what people are saying in terms of the sky is falling. You know, if itís the usual people who are so invested in promotions that they get caught up and thereís Strikeforce fans that are freaking out, I donít care about them. Itís likeÖ I mean I donít. I never understood the attachment to a promotion, really, like it was just so silly to me. I always watch the fighters and I want to see the best guys fight. Itís why when I was and I can say that now Iím wrong, like you donít need co-promotion to have the best fighters in the world fight, you know, you can have one organization buy everything and thatís what happened, and Iím fine with that and I said that all along. Essentially, I was just looking for a vehicle that was most realistic to seeing the best guys fight one another, it was a tried-and-true practice and, you know, it seemed to work for a long time. But we donít need that in Mixed Martial Arts apparently and thatís fine
Thereís a lot that needs to shake out. It will certainly change a lot of dynamics, not just amongst the talent but also amongst media writers. There is a lot of fear out there to not anger the big behemoth if you want access or if you want a payday down the road. MMA Supremacy on Twitter has been spending the last week or so talking about how the media is going to behave in this new business climate and joking about Ďbusiness as usual.í
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