Gegard Mousasi has been around the MMA block, more than once, and recently the Bellator champ argued the UFC’s in decline, due to poor matchmaking. Does the accomplished fighter have a point?
Mousasi joined the UFC back in 2013, and as many longtime observers and hardcore fans predicted, he proceeded to become one of the promotion’s top middleweights. After all, before Mousasi joined the UFC, he had already won titles with DREAM and Strikeforce, and was widely considered to be one of the most complete fighters in the game.
Well, last year, while riding a five fight winning streak, Mousasi ended up leaving the UFC for Bellator. In advance of his September 29th title defense against welterweight champ, Rory MacDonald, Mousasi had this to say about his new employers, and the UFC (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I feel the UFC is declining because they’re putting on bad cards, the main events are not that intriguing,” Mousasi said. “We have a lot of big names fighting now in Bellator. You have Quinton (Jackson) vs. Wanderlei (Silva), that’s a superfight on its own, obviously (Lyoto) Machida is now here. Ryan Bader. You have Matt Mitrione, you have so many big names.”
“I think because of my long career, I’m now where I should be and I’m taking every chance I get to fight for the big fights.”
Does Mousasi have a point here? There’s no question that some of the ratings for the UFC this year have been disappointing, and based off reports about pay-per-view estimates, it hasn’t been a great year for the company either.
But, it was also reported that 2017 was the promotion’s best in terms of revenue (although, the massive Floyd Mayweather – Conor McGregor boxing match contributed a lot to the bottom line). Then, earlier this year more than a few folks were surprised, when UFC landed a broadcasting deal with ESPN worth a whopping $1.5 billion…
But, there certainly does seem to be a lot of cards these days, with little to no buzz. When you have events almost every, single weekend, booking enough compelling match-ups to fill each line-up gets tricky. Not to mention finding the resources and time to effectively promote the fights. Thus the over saturation narrative, and the speculation that sooner or later, the UFC will have to re-examine holding so many events. Further, others have questioned whether the promotion’s revenues would be so great, if the fighters were organized, and were making more money.
The UFC aside, it should be noted that Bellator’s taken some serious heat over the last couple of years, for some of their match making decisions as well. It will be interesting to see, however, how their cards draw on DAZN, and whether the upcoming tournament fights (both heavyweight and welterweight) pull big audiences.