In my last article, I spoke to the reasons why hosting an MMA during the current pandemic was a bad idea. I miss MMA as much as the next person so now that a few events are in the bag I want to play devil’s advocate and explain why bringing back the UFC was right. So, let us get started!
After the UFC hosted three success events within eight days it looks like they are back to business as usual. We saw Justin Gaethje win the interim lightweight title, Glover Teixeira proving he still has a lot left in the tank at 40 years old, and Alistair Overeem finishing Walt Harris in his comeback fight. That was an incredibly thrilling week for all fight fans who are excited to have MMA back. The UFC promised that they would maintain the same number of events they originally planned for at the beginning of the year. That means we should expect a multiple events per week a few more times to make up for lost time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Money is what makes the world go round and the greatest motivating factor for the UFC to return to normal. Endeavor who purchased the UFC for $4 billion want to earn their money back as quickly as possible. Not hosting events certainly hinders that from happening. They are contractually obligated to host events on ESPN platforms, both online on their streaming service and on television. Then the big revenue generator is from pay per view sales.
With many states under lock down and people practicing social distancing, it is not as easy to have friends over to purchase the event and watch together. That means more households are purchasing the event, and UFC 249 was worth every penny. Couple that with sponsorships, commercials, and licensing deals the company is missing out on a lot of money when they are not hosting events.
It also says something about the company if it is willing to pack its bags and rent a private island to host fights, called Fight Island. This is for international fighters who are unable to successfully receive working visas for the USA. That is certainly not a cheap venture by any means but if the return on investment is enough to earn a profit then it is obviously worth it. This is all from the company perspective but the monetary benefits for the fighters are also great.
Most fighters in the UFC do not have another job or another means of income. To get to the top of the competition they must dedicate themselves to the fullest to their craft. That means if fights are not happening then the fighters ultimately do not get paid. These are individuals with families and other important responsibilities that they must care for. Coupled with the fact that MMA fighters are the worst paid professional athletes and do not have a player’s union to defend them either. This is not an easy situation for fighters. They can apply for unemployment benefits. But for the most part that is not enough to get through life, similarly to every other person in America.
If the opportunity presents itself to compete and get paid, then it makes sense that they would take it. As evident by announcing UFC 250, UFC on ESPN: Woodly vs Burns, and other fights to unannounced events. Fighters in general are known to be high risk takers to begin with. The financial reward of taking the risk of contracting the virus would be worth it for them to earn a paycheck. This speaks more to the state of the economy. If people are making money, then people are not spending money either. Athletes are also consumers so the faster they can get back to work then the faster we get back normalcy.
Now more than ever do we need entertainment. With the pandemic, social distancing, and state sanctioned lockdowns it has been incredibly difficult to entertain ourselves. The news is constantly presenting bad news. We are unable to work, see friends and family, shop, eat at restaurants, and more. Being locked in your own home, you can only watch so much Netflix.
The President Donald Trump has said multiple times that sports is an essential service and wants to bring it back as quickly as possible. Sports brings a lot of joy and happiness to people, provide entertainment and an escape to the realities of the world. Also, an important note is that the American professional sports including the NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL generate billions of dollars a year.
To kick back for 3 hours or more to watch our favourite teams, or our favourite fighters is incredibly relaxing. It gives us the chance to forget what is happening around the world currently. Then that has a kickback effect from all the other sport related content we consume. That includes blogs, sport talk shows, news articles, podcasts, and more. One match or event can potentially create hours of content that can be read, watched, or listened to. Without any live sports to talk about, all those mediums are severely lacking material as well. That gives us a chance to forget about all the deaths, the politics, the economy, and more.
I would like to thank Dana White, and the UFC to returning to its regular scheduled programming. Admittedly I do find it risky to host events as evident by Jacare Souza’s positive Covid-19 test. But I will not miss an event because of my opinion. I still love the sport and I have missed when it was gone for 8 straight weeks. Now that they are back, they have paved the way for all professional sports to begin returning as well. Sports is a critical part of our society and I am happy to see it slowly return. And that is why bringing back the UFC was right.
I would love to hear your opinion, let me know what you think in the comments down below!