– Kyle Denton, Sports Editor
Over the past few years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has quickly become extremely popular, a sport that some argue has become more popular than boxing. It has taken mixed martial arts to new heights, and with die-hard fans all over the world, the UFC has been making a strong push to reach the casual fan through reality television, free televised events and contract deals with media giants. However, one concern that some seems to be having is the incessant increase of events that the UFC is hosting. In years past, the UFC would often have one pay per view card a month, with the odd free televised card sometime during the week. But now, with three added weight classes, and new television contracts with networks such as FOX and FX, the UFC has seen a large increase in events. For example, the UFC hosted four events between January 14th and February 4th of this year, and planned an additional three events between February 15th and March 3rd, not to mention debuting one of their reality shows March 9th. In 2010, the UFC held 23 events; in 2011, they hosted 26. But now, the UFC is planning some 40 events this year, and the question has now become, whether or not the increase in UFC events has become an issue of concern, and if the UFC is hurting itself rather than helping itself in regards to this expansion.
I understand that the UFC has added a substantial amount of fighters with their added weight classes, and that the amount of television contracts they have acquired must be honoured. But, with seven events in seven weeks, the UFC has stretched out their talent pool and are now filling these cards with a lower level of talent, which is a far cry from the level that has been displayed in the past few years. These added cards have also forced the dedicated fan to devote more time to watching these events. I am aware that the UFC is a business, and like any of the major sports, must look to expand in order to increase revenue and popularity, but I think this expansion has now come to a point where it is jeopardizing the quality of the UFC. Why not return to the 25 event schedule, providing their fans with the highest level of talent? If the free cards such as “UFC on FX” and “UFC on Fuel” are designed to interest the casual fan, why not provide more enticing matchups spread over fewer events. I think it is safe to say that, although this expansion may not be hurting the UFC, it probably isn’t helping them as much as they would hope. I think what we are starting to see is that, outside the main event and co-main event, there aren’t enough dynamic matchups to properly fill out the cards. In the past, the preliminary cards were filled with up-and-comers or those trying to crack the main card, but have now become riddled with fighters that do not present much threat to their respective division. I hope they will curb their expansion to an extent, in order to maintain the level of quality that they have exhibited before.