Is MMA a sport? Was UFC 228 the best event of the year so far? And what’s the financial cost of being stripped of a UFC title?
All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.
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[original tweet: https://twitter.com/MMAGoddess/status/1039992181858230274]
First we’ve got to know what we mean when we use the word “sport.” I don’t expect us all to agree on it, but for our purposes a sport is a series of athletic competitions where the winners move on toward some kind of championship.
Does that describe MMA? Yes and no. You do have to win at least one fight to become a champion. But to a fighter starting out there’s no clear and irrevocable path to that point.
Think about a team in the NFL. The season starts, and they know exactly what they have to do – win games by any means necessary. If they win more games than the other teams in their division, they go to the playoffs. If they win all their playoff games, they go to the Super Bowl. If they win that, they’re champions. It’s simple.
A fighter who’s just been signed to the UFC doesn’t have that clarity of vision. He can win all his fights and still not get a title shot. Others can win only barely more than they lose and eclipse him in opportunities and earnings.
A lot of that has to do with the financial structure of the sport. Promoters have to sell tickets and pay-per-views. The Cleveland Browns can suck and still sell a lot of tickets just by virtue of being a) the only pro football team in Cleveland, and b) the team your dad indoctrinated you to root for growing up.
Pro fighting doesn’t work that way.
It is, by its nature, a traveling carnival. It sets up the tent in a new city every weekend, and the promoter has to get out there and shout a sales pitch that will work on each new crowd.
Point is, some of the differences are structural. Still, within that structure is some room for interpretation, and recent years have seen the UFC embracing the carnival more and more as it chases the quick buck.
The actual fights themselves? Those are still pure sport. Everything else about the way the mechanics of MMA work? It’s pure corporate profiteering. It’s always been that way, to one extent or another. What changes is the extent to which promoters feel obligated to at least pretend like there’s a fair and just system guiding it all.
[original tweet: https://twitter.com/dev0ved/status/1039966668263317504]
A lot depends on individual contracts. Some (but not all) champions get a cut of pay-per-view sales for any card they fight on. Some have contracts that pay them one figure while they have the belt, and another when they don’t. Then there’s the “compliance pay” (formerly known to the masses as Reebok money), which tops out at $40,000 per fight for champions.
Outside of official pay structures, it’s probably also a lot easier to get endorsements or give seminars when you can put “current UFC champion” next to your name.
It’s hard to put an exact dollar figure on what a fighter loses by being stripped of the title. For someone like Conor McGregor, who’s a box office guarantee with or without a belt, he probably barely noticed.
But someone like Nicco Montano is definitely going to feel the hit. Even if she lost her belt in her first defense, it had the potential to be one the biggest payouts of her career. Then she was hospitalized during her weight cut and the UFC simply decided she wasn’t champ anymore. Poof. Gone.
This is part of the deal that fighters seem to be slowly waking up to. Remember when Nate Diaz called the UFC title a “fairy tale?” How about when UFC President Dana White said the UFC made an offer that would have paid Benson Henderson “substantially more” than Bellator – but only if he became champ?
The fact that the UFC can strip a champion of the title whenever it pleases is a good reminder that the belt is always the property of the UFC. It never belongs to the fighter who wins it. That’s something you want to keep in mind if it’s a vital piece of your long-term financial goals.
[original tweet: https://twitter.com/WorldsWorstHero/status/1039942977899175939]
It was definitely one of the best events of the year. It also benefitted from lowered expectations.
Looking at it on paper, especially with Tyron Woodley coming off two mind-numbingly boring title defenses and the other title fight scratched at the last minute, it seemed like a very missable pay-per-view. Then it ended up being awesome, with lots of great fights and finishes spread around from the prelims to the main card.
In terms of sheer quality of action, UFC 228 has to at least be in the top three. But then, we can’t really crown the best of 2018 with three months still to go in the year – and things are due to heat up very soon.
[original tweet: https://twitter.com/Paquet90/status/1039955272993792002]
This is a well documented phenomenon going back at least five years. Analyst Reed Kuhn, author of “Fightnomics,” was one of the first to point out that fighters on the prelims have a really hard time getting those UFC bonuses.
It happens sometimes, maybe just enough to keep them hoping and dreaming. But for the most part, your best bet is to be somewhere on the main card.
Why is that? Some of it might be just that, since bonuses aren’t awarded until the event is over, the UFC brass remembers best what they see last. Also, the fights on the main card usually feature higher-ranked fighters, so the wins and the performances might seem to mean more, or come with a higher degree of difficulty.
There are bound to be some nights where there are just more awesome performances than there are bonuses. But since the UFC reserves the right to pocket certain bonuses on nights when it doesn’t think there are enough good performances to warrant them, maybe it should also get a little more enthusiastic about adding them when the action warrants it.
[original tweet: https://twitter.com/Chapperton/status/1039947992386555904]
Hold up, got a message incoming from Invicta FC …
[original tweet: https://twitter.com/nefaramos/status/1039982674897588224]
Tatiana Suarez is undefeated and she won a season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” so yeah, she was on my radar. But after going out there and trucking a former champ, now she’s on the short list on potential title challengers.
I don’t know if Suarez is at the front of the line just yet, though. Jessica Andrade won by one-punch knockout on the same card, after all, and her resume at the upper level is a little deeper. I’d say Suarez is maybe one win away – especially if she looks as good as she did on Saturday night.
[original tweet: https://twitter.com/Iainllhendo/status/1039943358171541504]
To be honest, I had never heard of Andrew Yang until he started replying to my tweets whenever I mentioned labor issues in MMA. Then I looked at his Twitter and saw that he’s running for president in 2020. Then I looked up his bio on Wikipedia and thought, sure, seems like a smart guy and not a total crank.
Is he actually going to be president, though? Will the Democrats even let him into their debates once primary season gets going? Because if not, then he’s just another guy on Twitter who thinks that MMA fighters are probably getting a bad deal in the labor market. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing to be, or that he’s not someone whose opinions should be taken seriously, but it does make you wonder if it will have any effect.
What I can tell you for sure is, the guy in the White House right now? He’s not a great friend to organized labor as it is. And since there are still a couple years to go before the election, and some important issues in MMA currently being decided under his watch, that could have a lot more impact than a presidential hopeful on Twitter.
Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Twitter Mailbag: Is MMA a sport?