The title says it all. However, Guy Mezger does know a thing or two about MMA, and he’s the one that’ll be running things for Mark Cuban. And what, pray tell, is Mark Cuban up to? Well, it looks like Cuban is setting up to put some serious money into the MMA game. He’d already had a big toe in the water with his HDNET TV channel playing events by Art of War, Steele Cage Productions, Ring of Fire, and several other organizations. In fact, while no one was paying attention HDNET has quietly built up more hours of MMA TV per week than SpikeTV has.
When I say Mark Cuban doesn’t know shit about MMA, I mean it. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to do business. While no one’s been paying attention, Cuban has been networking with tons of promoters who DO know what they’re doing and put together a team that can provide him with tons of quality programming. He’s carefully looked at the costs, the ratings, and the dynamics of working with others and it looks like he’s now considering taking the next step and locking up one of the few things he doesn’t have and his partners can’t afford: top tier talent.
That’s all well and good … Cuban definitely has the money to sign whoever he wants, but the trick is going to be moving past HDNET and getting his Friday Night Fights programming carried by a serious basic cable channel (or even better, one of the main networks). That’s the other thing Cuban’s project doesn’t have right now: the exposure it needs if it wants to even hold a candle to the UFC. If Fedor fights in the forest but no one is there to see it, did he really fight? Ponder that, young grasshopper.
There’s no doubt that Cuban has the backing and connections to pull a major TV deal off … but this isn’t the kind of thing that happens overnight. At this point Cuban’s group still seems to be developing their strategy, deciding if they will continue to work with other promotion companies for content or start producing the content themselves. The cat is out of the bag now, but that doesn’t mean these guys have the cavalry ready to charge. Despite all the hype surrounding this ‘sudden interest from Mark Cuban’, the reality of the situation is Cuban’s been in the game for a while and things aren’t going to change drastically any time soon. No matter who Cuban signs, so long as his MMA offerings are limited to HDNET he’s not going to be a threat to the UFC.