I wrote a piece called “Zuffa’s Dangerous Summer” in April, and pointed out three potential threats: 1) Affliction’s first show; 2) EliteXC on CBS; and 3) Randy Couture winning his case and pursuing the Fedor fight in one of these competing promotions.
It’s now August, and it looks like Zuffa will emerge from this dangerous period as the undisputed top player in the industry.
Affliction did far better than I guessed when they first announced the show, but they spent so much more money to do it that they have cut their second payroll by millions of dollars, and do not look to be a formidable threat at any point in the near future.
EliteXC is on the ropes, reeling from significant financial loss and management issues. CBS does not pay them enough for them to survive without Pay Per View, but who knows if we’ll ever see that? They are not a threat, they are more like an occasional novelty act that will serve to build up names on CBS that will get better deals when they eventually sign with the UFC. Lesnar-Kimbo may be a fight we see in 2009 in the UFC. If they do survive and stay strong, they still won’t be any kind of threat to the UFC.
Finally, things have not gone particularly well for Randy. The arbitrator could rule for him, but his best chance was always a Texas judge hating Zuffa’s unfair contracts and allowing Randy to go elsewhere. The possibility of Couture fighting Fedor for a new promotion is the only real remaining threat to the UFC’s dominance right now.
If I had to evaluate the state of the UFC right now, I would say it is excellent. They are doing strong pay per view numbers without Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, or Randy Couture, the overseas expansion is now profitable, and they have a few very big fights on the horizon. The piece they need to fall into place now is a network deal on terms that are good for them, and I suspect that by early next year they will get it.
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