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Five biggest MMA questions going into 2014

Ronda Rousey

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey

A year ago I wrote about the five biggest questions going into 2013, and you can check it out right here as well as the answers the year provided. However, it’s now 2014 and a new year brings new questions and things to be on the lookout for moving forward. That’s what we plan to do here in this piece. What are the give biggest MMA questions going into 2014? I thought you’d never ask:

Which fighters will emerge as potential PPV draws with the loss of Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva in the UFC?

The UFC will be in a transitional period in 2014 when it comes to PPV buys. Georges St-Pierre has decided to vacant his UFC welterweight title and take a leave of absence/retire from the sport. Anderson Silva suffered the leg break at UFC 168 against Chris Weidman and will definitely be out of action for all of 2014, if not for good. St-Pierre was the largest PPV draw in the UFC by far, and the UFC will certainly miss him in that department. Anderson Silva had a become a reliable draw in his own right after years of dominating opponents combined with heavy promotion from the UFC. The only proven UFC PPV draws are UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Rousey is a star, but is still a bit unproven as she has yet to really carry a PPV on her own. However, she’ll get that opportunity at UFC 170 in February when she looks to defend her title against Sara McMann who is relatively unknown.Will UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman become a proven PPV draw with two wins over Anderson Silva?  UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez isn’t a huge PPV draw, but he will miss the majority of the year anyways due to shoulder surgery. UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will miss a large chunk of 2014 with a knee injury, but he isn’t a PPV draw in his own right. UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has yet to emerge as a proven PPV draw, but he’ll have some opportunities in 2014. Could Johny Hendricks break through if he’s able to beat Robbie Lawler for the vacant UFC welterweight title? He has one punch KO power, and as Chuck Liddell proved, if you can do that you don’t need a huge personality to become a legit PPV draw. Rousey will be able to fight around three times in 2014, so if she can successfully defend her belt she could fill the void a bit. Could Urijah Faber finally capture UFC gold in 2014? He has a legitimate following to be one of the smaller weight competitors, and he’ll definitely get a title shot in his next fight should everything hold true. It should be interesting to keep an eye on this as the UFC still heavily depends on PPV buys as a revenue stream.

Will Invicta FC sign a TV deal in 2014?

Invicta FC has put on some amazing shows in their short existence. They made the transition over to internet PPV in 2013 with some success. If anything, they proved that there’s a demand for women’s MMA in the spectrum, and have already begun listening to offers regarding a TV deal. Invicta President Shannon Knapp is adamant that they will only sign the ‘right’ deal for the promotion as they’ve seen how other promotions have failed in the past. If Invicta FC can get a good TV deal, they could certainly make huge waves in 2014 and beyond.

Will the UFC Fight Pass service be a success creating consumer demand?

I’ll be fully transparent in that I’m not fully sold on the UFC Fight Pass service. Why would I want to pay for fights that I’ve already seen? How many other fans like me that have been watching MMA since forever feel the same way? Is what they are offering enough to get casual fans to get the service? Let’s do some math. If the UFC is able to get 100,000 fans to subscribe to the service at $10 a pop, that equals another 12 million dollars a year. I think they were smart in announcing the launch prior to UFC 168 as it was probably the largest PPV of the year and lots of hype was around the event. Also, it’ll be interesting to see what else will be added to the service. A friend of mine were talking recently, and we chatted about how this service could condition fans to start buy PPV’s through this service instead of their cable companies. If that’s the case, the UFC wouldn’t have to split the money with the PPV providers.  Hmmm.

Will Bellator hold a PPV in 2014? 

Bellator MMA was set to hold their first PPV in 2013 this past November, but the plans fell through when one half of the main event(Tito Ortiz) had to withdraw from the card. Was this PPV a result of the Eddie Alvarez lawsuit or was it in the plans the whole time? I don’t think it was the latter, and certainly don’t think that card would have done well at all for a number of reasons. If Bellator doesn’t hold a PPV in 2014, then we’ll know that PPV was probably heavily influenced by the Eddie Alvarez situation. Bellator made the move to Spike TV in 2013, and while their ratings were OK at times, they really didn’t knock it out of the park. In fact, I wonder if GLORY kickboxing will eclipse Bellator as the ratings for their last show almost doubled the first show. If ratings for Bellator don’t improve in 2014, I wonder how much money Viacom is willing to put into MMA at that point.

Which new countries will the UFC expand to in 2014?

The UFC will be visiting a new country on Saturday when they hold their first show in Singapore. They’ll be going back to Sweden and the UK this year. They are have already filmed “The Ultimate Fighter” in China, and will probably hold a few shows in the UK. Will the UFC finally get to Mexico in 2014? UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is of Mexican descent and the UFC would like nothing better than to tap into that market. Velasquez will be out until late 2014 as I have already mentioned, but that time may allow the UFC to clear any final hurdles to tap into that market. It’s not a new country, but will the UFC finally hold a show in the state of New York? It seems as though they are inching closer and closer to legislation being passed that will legalize MMA there. A show in the state of New York would be like visiting a new country as they have been trying to get there for many years.

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