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Posted on June 11, 2012 by Jack Thurman
The UFC has announced that the Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao match originally scheduled as the co-main event on UFC 148 in Las Vegas on July 7th has been moved to UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta on July 21 and will be the main event of that card. The match is for the interim bantamweight title and the UFC is promising that a new match will be added to the UFC 148 card.
For the UFC, it’s more of the same. With the promotions’ PPV numbers tanking, TV ratings slumping and live shows not selling out they seem clueless as to what to do to revitalize the product. UFC President Dana White has been rumored to be planning a leave of absence due to health issues, exhaustion and erratic behavior. Instead of cutting back on shows and putting together fewer, but better, cards they continue to spread themselves too thin and not surprisingly they continue having to re-book on the fly due to injuries.
UFC 149 is the latest in an ongoing series of fiascos–presumably they’re not concerned about screwing the fans who paid top dollar for live tickets. They can’t get a refund now so what recourse do they have? The main event of that show–a matchup between Chael Sonnen and middleweight champion Anderson Silva–is arguably the most attractive matchup available to the promotion. Yet despite that fact they’ve had to downsize this event twice. The original plan was to hold the event in a soccer stadium in Brazil. When that proved to be economically not viable they defaulted to holding the show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, the UFC has gone a long way toward killing off their live market in Las Vegas. Too many shows with too few compelling matchups has burnt out the fanbase in their home city. Now they can’t even sell unsold tickets to VIP casino hosts–the simple fact of the matter is that casino players aren’t interested in attending live UFC shows. After less then expected ticket sales at the MGM Grand Garden Arena the show was rescheduled for the smaller Mandalay Bay Events Center.
What’s most alarming about the UFC is that they seem to be in a state of denial about the declining interest in the product, at least in North America. They keep maintaining the party line that the UFC is the fastest growing sport on the planet (which is utter nonsense) while every statistical metric that would quantify that says otherwise. This has led to a number of bizarre comments by Dana White including a claim that the UFC is ‘bigger than the NFL’ and reacting to horrible TV rating numbers by accusing the network of ‘leaking’ this information (TV ratings are released by the networks and the entire cost structure of broadcast advertising is based on ratings). It’ll be interesting to see if the UFC takes any sort of proactive steps to revitalize the product.