Overvaluing the Rift Between the UFC and Fedor Emelianenko

Fedorbeatsarlovski_mediumWhile it's noteworthy that a publication as well known as Time is giving the UFC and the larger sport of MMA some play, it's regrettable that they would introduce the general public to the contentious UFC/Fedor situation by overstating the Russian fighter's value within the confines of North America.  To wit:

Imagine a pro quarterback with Peyton Manning's talent playing up in the Canadian Football League instead of the NFL. Or picture Tiger Woods shunning the PGA and all the major championships to star in the second-string Nationwide Tour. It may sound ridiculous, but the fast-growing, wildly popular sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is grappling with such an unthinkable, uncomfortable scenario.

That's how the article starts out, and this is how it ends:

So despite growing pressure from ultimate-fighting fans who want White to sign Fedor, it doesn't look like the pair will be doing celebratory vodka shots anytime soon. "Fedor doesn't make or break my business one way or the other, you know what I mean?" says White. "The reality is, I don't need Fedor." Still, over the long term, the Fedor-White standoff could leave mixed martial arts much like pro boxing, decimated by warring promoters and fighters, with talent spread across too many divisions for followers to keep count. After all, no sport can keep rolling in the dough if fans keep feeling shortchanged.

There is some good information in between these two excerpts, and I'm glad Dana White's perspective was at least given some attention.  Although, in my mind, the conclusions which the article draws are over-the-top.  The USAT/SBN Consensus Rankings accurately ranks Fedor (in my mind, anyway) as the top heavyweight fighter in the world.  Though some may contend that Fedor hasn't regularly fought the top contenders since the dismantling of Pride, his body of work over the years is impeccable.  He probably deserves the to be slotted at #1 until he's defeated or he completely falls off the MMA map.  However, skill and accomplishments don't necessarily equal name value, and that's really what we're talking about here.  The undeniable difference between Fedor and Tiger Woods or Fedor and Peyton Manning is that Fedor's name doesn't register with many of the fans who consume UFC-branded products.  The other two well-known athletes were held in high standing among U.S. sports fans even before either made their professional debuts.  While the UFC has done much to bolster their brand outside of North America and continues to build a global product, most of their business is still done within the boundaries of the aforementioned continent in front of U.S. and Canadian fans.

With all this mind, it seems a stretch to hypothesize that a UFC without Fedor leads to the promotional fragmentation that's synonymous with boxing.  Even if Peyton Manning were to leave the NFL for the CFL, there's little doubt that the NFL could absorb the hit quite well.  It would take a lot of defections, leading to the erosion of overall starpower and talent, to really hurt the NFL or the UFC.  I'm certainly not equating the UFC to the NFL in terms of total dollar value or overall popularity, but both are in similarly dominant positions vis a vis their respective sports.  In fact, the UFC has done more to mobilize top talent under one promotional roof than any other MMA promotion in the world.  The attention UFC events garner in comparison to what we've seen and will see in regard to media attention directed at Fedor and Affliction somewhat debunks the contention that signing Fedor is a must for the UFC and/or the sport of MMA.

If the most talented football player made his mark in Japan with most North American fans unaware of his supposed greatness, would the NFL ever feel a significant impact due to not signing the player in question?

HT:  MMA Fanhouse

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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