Shortly after Dan Henderson’s comeback win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, I excitedly thought to myself, “thank God we have a two week break from UFC”. The Hendo-Shogun card wrapped up a sixth straight week of UFC cards.
This was something the promotion had never done before. They’ve done four straight fight weekends before April 2013 and January 2012. The problem is after the April 2013 streak we had a three-week break. Shortly the January streak, we went over a month without UFC.
Those days seem to be long gone. The UFC has events mapped out up until July and there isn’t A three-week break in sight. Judging by the tentative schedule, we may not see another for the rest of the year. The UFC has steadily increased the number of events per year since 2006, from 20 to 33 last year. This year, they’ll hit 25 with the UFC Ireland card — in mid-July.
There are five more events for 2014 already scheduled after Ireland, but more will be added. And if the numbers of the PPV events are accurate, we could easily see over 50 UFC events by the end of the year.
Is this too many? Yes and no. It isn’t too many because it’s still the UFC, the best MMA promotion on the planet. I would never complain about how many days a week the NFL, or any other sport, comes on and I can’t fault the UFC for giving us what we love: more MMA.
But the reason they can’t put on this many events a year is they don’t have enough talent to put on this many intriguing cards. Even with 450+ fighters on the roster, there are — at most — 50 worthy of a main card regardless of whether it’s a PPV or on Fight Pass. Nine of those 50 are current champions, who are in action 2-3 times a year. Most of the other 41 don’t make for strong headliners, unless they’re fighting a champion, plus they’re only fighting 2-3 times a year as well. A lot of this has to do with how (entertainment heavily over reason) and who (170+ lb. fighters or Ronda Rousey) the UFC chooses to promote the most, but either way there isn’t enough substance on paper to keep casual viewers interested in an entire fight card.
Personally, I’ll still watch them all. But the number of times I look at a main card and say, “I have no interest in watching that fight,” is higher than ever. It’s easy to plan your day around one event a week, but will I just have to mail it in on May 31 and June 28?
That’s the problem with putting on so many events and stretching them out across so many platforms. It’s too easy for a casual viewer to get lost in the shuffle of a thousand Ultimate Fighter shows going on at once and they end up watching a co-main event fighter they’ve probably never seen before.
After awhile, those viewers won’t even bother catching up.