According to industry insider estimates, UFC pay-per-view buys are a fraction of what they were years ago, and while the prevailing argument why that is so centers around a market glutted with product, there’s another reason also widely accepted: the UFC suddenly lacks of stars.
Not long ago, names like Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva pushed the needle into the red, and before them it was the likes of Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture who held that honor. But now, Father Time has performed his usual trick and those stars of old are gone. The UFC is left with too few fighters who shine enough to drive the PPV bus.
That’s why, for the sake of the organization’s ability to motivate fans to shell out the dough and tune in, the UFC needs new stars.
The UFC needs Conor McGregor.
Never mind that McGregor is pretty good when the cage door shuts, and has looked sufficiently capable in his two Octagon outings. Like Chael Sonnen before him, the Irishman sports the gift of gab and a certain combative sports charisma so essential in star-making. For that, McGregor has been pushed as the next big thing, the greatest featherweight yet to accomplish anything of note. Because of his mouth and the notion that maybe, just maybe, he could make a division of 145-pound fighters way more interesting than it’s ever been, McGregor gets to main event at UFC Fight Night 46 in Dublin tomorrow, and gets to be the subject of videos like this…
Meanwhile, at the end of the day, we get to wonder if it’s all worth it. Are the UFC’s efforts to push McGregor going to pay off? We’ll he be the next fighter to generate the kind of interest that would make him a worthwhile draw at the top of a pay-per-view card?
Really, it doesn’t matter. The gamble is a necessary one. Because if McGregor fizzles against Diego Brandao on Saturday, or falls at a later date to someone else, well, that’s just how it goes in the fight game. But if the Irishman smashes all who stand before him, and continues to be that magnetic personality in the ever-growing videos that get put out on his behalf, then the UFC has the one thing it so desperately needs.
It has a viable star.