by: Jack Bratcher

I woke up today a bit confused. After watching a recent video interview with Randy Couture where he says that no one is pretending Brock Lesnar is the number one contender for the UFC Heavyweight Title, but rather it is “about the eyeballs,” it just got me to thinking.

Is the top MMA promotion in the world a sports league? I find myself telling people “MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world” and often I point to the UFC as proof of that. They are being covered by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and innumerable sports news affiliates around the world. So I know I’m not crazy when I consider what the UFC does a sport.

Where the confusion comes in for me is if the UFC is a “sports league” like the NFL, then why is it run more like the WWF? Case in point being Brock Lesnar getting a title shot after going 1-1 in the UFC and his only win, Herring, is not even in the top ten.

I know what the answer is. Randy even tells us plainly, “it’s about the eyeballs.” Translation: it’s about the money. That’s fine, but can it really be called a legitimate “sport” when so many elements of “entertainment” decide the match ups?

One thing we can’t deny is it is real. We have real fights with real highly skilled athletes. Yet, how is anyone to believe the UFC is the “number one MMA sports league” when a WWE wrestler comes in and gets a title shot after winning one fight?” Where is the legitimacy in that?

Like it or not, we are watching “sports entertainment.” There are elements that make it a sport such as the highly skilled athletes competing. One person wins and one person loses. But when the match ups are determined by the whims of popularity and who is likely to sell the most tickets it seems like that’s where the “sports” aspect leaves.

A few things that may have taken place if the UFC were run like a true sports league: Lyoto Machida would already have had a title shot.
Roy Nelson and other mixed martial artists of his “body-type” would be in the UFC. Are you telling me there’s no chubby guys that can fight? Come on now.

2 thoughts on “UFC: Sport or Entertainment?”
  1. Nice write up…in terms of eye balls…we have to remember also that leagues like the NFL and NBA often put two teams that people what to see on TV. I mean how many times do we get to see Red Sox/Yankees or Lakers/Celtics regardless of if either team is good that year….or even Lakers/Heat when Shaq and Kobe’s beef was at its apex? It’s no coincidence that we will never see the Kansas City Royals vs. Washington Nationals on Sunday Night baseball on ESPN. So even leagues like the NFL and NBA are aware of eyeballs and money.

  2. I was thinking about this same thing too after hearing Brock Lesnar would be fighting for the UFC HW Title. Obviously the guy doesn’t DESERVE a Title shot but neither did Randy when he got it. Title shots are being decided by what will be an “entertaining match up.” Not in every case but in this case. It seems the UFC wants to have the best of both worlds. They want to be considered a legitimate sport but they also want to be incredibally entertaining. What if a basketball game was run like this? Oh it is…it’s called the Harlem Globetrotters.

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