WAR MMA: Is there any room for growth?

Ultimately the main event of last nights WAR MMA 1 probably didn't go as hoped. It certainly didn't turn out for Daniel Roberts, but even if it had... is there any room for WAR MMA in the fight landscape?

An MMA promotion is always a tricky proposition. The money needed to pay for fighters, staff, equipment, and advertising create a decent amount of overhead for a business where fan interest is often fickle and unreliable. In some ways WAR MMA appears to have a lot of advantages over it's competition, but some of those same advantages (as well as a fighter/fan first ethos) may turn to disadvantages going forward.

The biggest advantage that the promotion has is Nick Diaz's name value. The promotion can piggyback off his fans, garnering interest even when it's fighters don't. But if Nick really is done with his fighting career, I wonder how much of a draw he could continue to be. It may be that the first WAR show will have been the peak of his drawing power for fans with a casual interest. I know the coverage that we ran for the event was a lot more than we'd give to most regional promotions, and a lot of that had to do with Nick Diaz. If the caliber of fighters remains the same, and the platform remains the same, WAR MMA may have seen it's peak viewing audience for some time.

One of the other big advantages that WAR 1 showed was a surprisingly polished, fan friendly viewing experience. Their feed was sharp and crisp, their announcer was decent, and their commentary cast was refreshingly new and on point. Javier Vasquez is a bit of a Gracie product, and some of his commentary skewed heavily towards one fighter or another, but he had a good breadth of technical knowledge and presented it in a fairly relate-able way. TJ De Santis worked as a good counterpoint and while he and Vasquez had a few early growing pains, they seemed to find a nice rhythm as the fights went on.

All of this begs the question, however, talent costs money and if WAR is dedicated to giving away their product can they afford high quality production? If they lost money on this first event (I'm not saying they did, but I wouldn't be surprised), how long can they afford to keep their production quality high. As I said above, I'm not sure that WAR MMA will see a larger audience than it got for it's first show anytime in the immediate future; if profit doesn't increase, costs may need to be cut.

It could be that they are angling for a quick TV deal, to enter on to the WSOF level, but that doesn't really appear to be their track, and I'm still not entirely convinced that the push to draw ratings and turn a decent profit won't ultimately be the death of Ray Sefo's baby. I'm also unsure as to whether they could gain anything from a PPV stream format. Invicta has been incredibly successful in that market (and Metamoris appears to be doing well), but they both have a very original product to offer. WAR MMA wasn't bad, but it didn't show anything that any other regional promotion can't duplicate.

At the end of the show, I wasn't dissatisfied with WAR MMA, and before it ever went on the air I had my suspicions that Nick Diaz could actually build a pretty decent product. I don't think that's wrong, but I do feel that if they're not happy with exactly the product they have they're going to find themselves hard pressed to improve quickly. If they can find a way to continue streaming free shows with local prospects and a couple of recognizable names they could carve out a nice little niche in the MMA world. If their short term goals are loftier they could easily find themselves among the company of Royce Gracie's Fightfest and other short lived MMA projects.

As an aside, one quick and easy thing they could do to improve their product is never let Josh Rosenthal near the commentary crew again. Even without his recent felony drug conviction, he was death in the booth.

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