Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (Sachiko Hodaka/Rizin FF)

The Curious State of the MMA Business

Mixed martial arts has never been more popular than it is now. From the UFC on down, the sport is set up to thrive for a long time. Or is it?

The UFC sits atop the combat-sports throne by its lonesome. There are, of course, the more gimmicky promotions, like Japan’s Rizin Fighting Federation, and Bellator MMA, which is busy working the nostalgia angles. There are a bevy of regional promotions that do an admirable job at putting together local shows, too.

“The UFC is a cash machine,” former owner Lorenzo Fertitta once told Forbes Magazine. The cash flow doesn’t stop there, though. Bellator, Rizin and Titan FC, just to name a few, are seemingly turning a profit in today’s MMA space.


Although some of the reported pay-per-view buy rates have been down from recent years, one could argue that MMA fandom has never been healthier than it is right now. Whether the UFC is cultivating new and exciting stars like the Nigerian-born Israel Adesanya, or if Bellator is doing its best to try to elevate potential mega-star Michael “Venom” Page, the sport of MMA is truly a worldwide phenomenon.

From afar, it would appear that all is A-OK on the MMA front. In many ways, this statement holds true. However, other areas appear to be in disarray.

How on earth do we not have a unified rule set that all 50 states recognize and follow without any deviation? A true unified rule set hardly sounds like an unrealistic request in today’s MMA.

How about the fact that the legendary Pride and UFC veteran Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is set to face off against Roy Nelson at Bellator 200? It could be confusing to the average fan when a fighter that is suspended by USADA is allowed to compete for the second-largest promotion on the planet.

Let’s not forget all the confounding talk of whether fighters will finally unionize. Collective bargaining. The Ali Act. Fair pay. Again, if these very important issues aren’t dealt with in a fair and amicable way, the consequences could be rather severe.

Ridiculous as some of this sounds, this is reality for the MMA fan in the year 2018. Hopefully, moving forward, all or some of these pressing issues can be looked at with a renewed common sense and, dare I say, be dealt with in an intelligent and ethical manner that we have not yet seen in MMA.