There’s a lot more going on with UFC79 than just the fights happening in the Octagon. The event is Zuffa’s last big hurrah for the year and if it doesn’t go off large, the implications could be pretty big:
From a business and media perspective, with pay-per-view numbers down slightly for the year and the perception, real or perceived, that the industry has cooled off, the company could use a strong pay-per-view number to close the year. MMAPayout.com should have a complete story on the the company’s pay-per-view numbers for the year next week, however, the company likely needs 600,000+ buys on Saturday to have a shot at beating HBO Boxing for the year.
The race is about far more than just bragging rights as much of this year’s gushing media coverage is largely built on last year’s record setting year on pay-per-view, including the beating boxing storyline. It has been said before, but momentum is self-perpetuating and the company has benefited tremendously from the mainstream media exposure that has resulted from its perceived momentum. If the media stops seeing the sport as the next big thing it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I don’t think we have to worry about the sport going into decline any time soon … as Dana White has said, the UFC doesn’t ‘need’ mainstream acceptance to succeed. But as far as growing the sport goes, it’s kinda important. On the other hand, you could argue that MMA has grown way too quickly over the past two years, and a speed bump or two so things slow down and get evaluated could be just what the sport needs.