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Is it time for UFC to Consider Co-Promotion?
by Dave FranklinSubscribe in a reader

UFCGary Shaw, President of EliteXC, has led the company to the first network TV deal for MMA. Saturday Night Fights is set to air on CBS on May 31 headlined by streetfighter turned professional MMA fighter Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson. It appears NBC is following in their competitor’s foot steps by partnering with Strikeforce. Mark Cuban, with his billions, is building an enterprise known as HDNet Fights. Pride FC seems to have been reborn under the banner of Dream. Still, the number one company in the MMA business is, without a doubt, the UFC.

For years, the UFC was forced to share the limelight with Pride. This always sparked debates of who had the best fighters, Pride or UFC? On one occasion, the UFC sent a contender to compete in Pride’s MWGP. Dana White assumed that this co-promotion would go both ways, he sends Chuck Liddell to fight in Pride and they return the favor by sending a fighter to the UFC. Well, that reciprocation never happened. Now, Pride no longer exists and has been, for the most part, absorbed by the UFC leaving start up companies to try and compete with the beast that is the UFC. Now, with some of these new companies getting lucrative deals, should the UFC consider co-promoting and event with then?

cung leFor MMA fans, the number of dream matches is too many to count. The problem is, often, at least one of these fighters is tied up by an exclusive contract. If the UFC were to allow co-promotion of an event, pleasing the fans would be the only benefit that I could see. Fans would go crazy to see Strikeforce champion Cung Le vs. UFC champion Anderson Silva.

From a business standpoint, the UFC has nothing to gain from co-promoting an event. Even with the CBS and NBC deals, EliteXC and Strikeforce are not on level ground with the UFC. By co-promoting an event the UFC would only be giving recognition to a smaller, competing company. Unless another company comes to level ground with the UFC, they should not co-promote an event.

Champion vs. champion? That is a great concept, but what happens to the credibility of the champion that loses? Can you imagine if Cung Le defeated Anderson Silva? Silva dominates the middleweight division in the UFC then gets beat by the champ of another organization? Not only does that not look good for the UFC champion, but risks the integrity of the whole weight-class.

The UFC would not and should not even consider co-promoting an event. Not at this stage in the sport. Right now, UFC is popular and MMA is becoming popular. I believe that until a World MMA board exists that recognizes the UFC, EliteXC, Strikeforce, Dream, and any other organization on the same level and offers a true World title, we will not see co-promoted events. If any co-promotion takes place under the Zuffa banner, it should be through the WEC.

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