Despite getting his butt royally kicked by Fabricio Werdum, Cain Velasquez is getting an immediate rematch. Although he fell pretty easily to Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in his last trip to the cage, Alexander Gustaffson gets a crack at champ Daniel Cormier. Carlos Condit, meanwhile, gets to leapfrog Johny Hendricks and take on Robbie Lawler for the belt.
Sometimes, it seems like there’s no rhyme or reason as to who gets a title shot in the UFC. But if you take a step back and examine it, you’ll see there is a reason, and that reason is business.
Here’s veteran reporter David Meltzer waxing poetic about the subject:
A bottom level UFC pay-per-view event, even with great fighters and a legitimate championship fight, but with an uncharismatic champion, can struggle to break 100,000 buys. A few weeks later, the same company, with the right main event, can come close to doing 1 million buys. Because of that, the importance of being able to gauge what the public wants, or more is willing to pay for, is really a make-or-break aspect for any national company.
The problem is that it’s an inexact science. Some of it is based on market research. Some is based on gut feeling.
Things like not getting title shots come off losses that is so important to the media and to the hardcore fans, is something that the people who actually buy UFC pay-per-views seem to care very little about.
Go on, Dave. Go on.
We’ve had the rise of Conor McGregor into a huge drawing card before he had really even been tested, based on his mouth. And we’ve had the success of Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock, a fighter who never had a prime in the sport against a fighter whose prime was two decades ago, which blew away the interest level in anything Bellator had ever done. It did far better than when Bellator was built around the playoff tournament format system.
Ultimately, it’s the personalities and the grudge matches that grow the sport’s popularity. Bellator had a huge increase in viewership after ditching the sports-style tournaments to create legitimate contenders and replaced it with focusing on fighters who were long past their primes, but had name value from years ago.
We sort of knew this, but Meltzer breaking it down kind of gives it authenticity. Oh well, it’s not the worst thing in the world to have matchmaking and title shots driven by popularity. I mean, the opposite was Bellator’s tournament system, and that grew stale after a while.