Longer-time readers are already familiar with my interest in the fight game and particularly, the emergence of Irishman Conor McGregor as perhaps the single biggest name in the world of MMA.
McGregor is currently battling with UFC kingmaker, Dana White over how fighters should be treated by the promotion system, and if the purpose of the UFC is to promote above all else, or to allow fighters to fight.
It’s about freedom and self-determination, and as such, I stand firmly in the corner of Conor McGregor.
The conflict between McGregor and White arose via the pre-fight promotion obligations White insisted McGregor participate in. McGregor requested some leeway, wanting instead to focus 100% on the upcoming fight ,while he also reminded both fans and the White that he had helped to earn the UFC some $300 million dollars over the course of the last few years.
Both men dug in their respective heels and in the end, McGregor was removed from the upcoming UFC 200 card – which he had been headlining. Some estimates put the loss of revenue to the UFC for having done so at $40 million dollars.
The trickle-down effect of that kind of loss will be significant to both the promoter and the other fighters involved, and might well result in push-back among the contracted fighters who are just now starting to earn the kind of money that is comparable to other top-tier professional athletes – an improvement that is due in great part to the international appeal that is Conor McGregor.
McGregor has made millions via a considerable talent for self-promotion that, combined with his impressive fighting skills, has elevated him to already being the biggest attraction the UFC has ever had and the sport has been the better for it, akin to what Arnold Palmer did for golf in the early 1960’s that saw the sport’s popularity blossom and soon after, the paychecks of all professional golfers.
Dana White would do well to remember it is the fighters who make the UFC and not him and presently, Conor McGregor is the cash cow Mr. White has waited so long to emerge.
White is running an old-fashioned closed-shop promotion enterprise that taxes the time of fighters preparing for their next opponent, particular those who live and train outside of the United States. He should be smart enough to realize that MMA’s appeal has been proven, but more importantly, so has its profit potential. That potential has likely not gone unnoticed by some deep-pocket interests who would be only too happy to use McGregor as a means of competing directly with the UFC, offering more freedom for fighters, bigger paychecks, and in turn, the potential demise of the UFC as the biggest fighter in the game.
It’s not only possible, but if Dana White’s outdated promotion model persists, probable.
A knockout punch, you might say…
D.W. Ulsterman is the author of numerous novels focusing on the concepts of freedom and liberty and America’s rightful place as a beacon of light to the world.
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