How UFC’s Popularity Exploded
How UFC "pushed past barriers and gradually transformed MMA from a spectacle to a sport."
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How UFC’s Popularity Exploded
The sport of UFC, or the “Ultimate Fighting Championship”, has gained rapid popularity in the sphere of entertainment in recent years. If you have been living under a rock for the past few years, let me tell you about this sport; the UFC is a mixed martial art style, much like boxing. However, it is much rawer since there are fewer constraints around what can be considered fair in a fight. Generally speaking, MMA is a much more diverse form of fighting when compared to boxing.
While many people believe that the dying sport of boxing paved the way for UFC, many historical factors also led to its success. The creator of UFC, Art Davie, came up with the idea of a fighting championship after he watched a video series by the Gracies. Fun fact, when creating the fighting arena for UFC, some bizarre ideas included having a razor wire fence, electrified fencing, and even a moat with alligators. Thankfully, they settled on an arena with eight sides, surrounded by chain link fence, and named it “The Octagon.”
The first UFC event, UFC 1, was a huge success; however, there were also some problems with the show. For starters, weight classes didn’t exist, which led to heavier fighters having an unfair advantage. Secondly, the absence of time constraints made some fights drawn out and boring for the spectators. Furthermore, the no-holds-barred fighting style attracted a ban in 36 USA states after Senator John McCain called it “human cockfighting.” Somehow, UFC pushed past these barriers and gradually transformed MMA from a spectacle to a sport.
After all the legal expenses incurred in bringing UFC back into the limelight, the company was on the edge of bankruptcy. Enter: Dana White and the Fertitta Brothers. Dana White sold the idea of buying UFC to Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, with Dana as their business partner. This acquisition led to the beginning of the Zuffa era, which proved highly beneficial for the company. Dana and the Fertitta Brothers were able to turn the future of the business around, thanks to their aggressive business strategies. Even while the UFC was slowly recovering its losses, Dana White was acquiring rival companies left and right.
Dana White deserves a lot of credit for making an organization like UFC function feasibly. In my opinion, the nature of combat sports typically attracts people with dominant personalities who feel they have something to prove. It’s tricky for managers to command a group of employees smoothly, and Dana can do it with egotistic fighters at an organisational level with commendable efficiency.
Another thing that has improved UFC’s viewership is how Dana builds a persona and backstory for each of his fighters, which makes the audience root for them. UFC’s marketing and advertising team uses digital media to its advantage and ensures the proper promotion of its events.
UFC is on its way to global recognition thanks to its robust management and innovation. Who knows, UFC may become even bigger than WWE.
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