We’re often advised to diversify things. We’re told to not get our hopes up. We’re advised to not put all our eggs in one basket. Well, I don’t know what lingo the millennials are using nowadays in their hipster culture, but you get the point. If you are basing your success on the performance of just a couple of variables, then you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to a major loss. This proven theory is consistent throughout all aspects of life, but especially in business. The UFC has a history of riding the wave of momentum of one fighter, and at times we’re left to wonder what kind of condition the company would be in if its cash cow of the moment suddenly flamed out.
I have to believe we are going through a bit of Ronda Rousey fatigue, so, in the best interest of the readers, I’ll keep mentions of the reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion to a minimum.
But who’s to blame for that? Are fans really clamoring for more Rousey, or is she being force-fed down their throats?
It’s the latter, and it’s not just the case with Rousey, but with Conor McGregor as well. And prior to that, it was Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and even, for a very short period of time, Brock Lesnar. Of course, as you go further back into the history books, you’ll see a pattern in which the UFC wrapped its arms around a fighter and presented him or her to us upon a pedestal in the same manner Simba was raised up in The Lion King.
Imagine, if you can, what would happen if Rousey lost her next fight. If Miesha Tate beats Rousey, Tate wouldn’t move the needle in quite the same way as Rousey has. To be fair, not many people would.
If Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino knocked out Rousey, there would actually be a good chance that the Brazilian could maintain the pay-per-view buys. She’s a polarizing figure who has knockout power, which is a rare quality to possess in the women’s division.
Furthermore, imagine the fallout if Rousey lost. The lore of the Olympic judoka being invincible goes out the door and we’d no doubt get stuck in repeat mode with rematches between either Rousey and Cyborg or Rousey and Tate, depending on who defeats the reigning champ.
Following in Rousey’s footsteps is McGregor, who has only been in the UFC for a little over two years. Once UFC President Dana White and company realized that an entire country follows this guy around with money in hand, they decided to make him a prominent face of the promotion.
Let’s be honest, McGregor and Rousey deserve the attention. Their success speaks for itself. What’s alarming is how quickly the UFC appears to forget about the rest of its champions in order to focus on the flavor of the day. How many of us were excited when we heard the announcement of McGregor as one of the coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter? It’s probably limited to the same group of people who also enjoy seeing McGregor’s crazy face for those Game of War commercials.
Perhaps I’m just a little nuts, but I’d love to see how things would shake out if Rousey and McGregor lost their fights within a month or two of each other. What would come from the UFC going into scramble mode to find its next money grab? Why don’t any of its other champions get the same kind of marketing? If Fabricio Werdum, Daniel Cormier, Chris Weidman, Robbie Lawler, Rafael dos Anjos, T.J. Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson all walked down the street together in some random corner of America, nobody would know who the heck they are. Sure, it’d look a little weird, but the point is that the UFC throws so much of its effort into just a couple fighters that the rest aren’t being represented enough. For the sport to truly go mainstream, shouldn’t there at least be widespread recognition of the champions?
The UFC deals with a new headache every week, but the company could reduce quite a bit of its risk by becoming more diverse and showcasing more of its fighters on a regular basis. If Rousey and McGregor get smashed in their respective next fights, where’s the UFC going to turn? Who will the company shove in the faces of the fans?