UFC Ownership Report Card: More In the Future?
When Zuffa, LLC, the company owned by the Fertitta brothers, purchased UFC in 2001, a lot of fans were excited about what this could mean for the troubled sport. Disappointment set in in the years immediately following as, contrary to expectations, Zuffa brought almost no changes to the game. Ratings and attendance continued to sink, and the sport was bogged down with a series of unpopular champs who failed to represent the hardcore intensity of the ultimate fighting championships.
Hearing the fans’ call, Zuffa finally started making changes in the mid-2000s. The game’s bigwigs were creative and forward-thinking in their approaches to promoting UFC, creating a Spike TV reality show that followed up-and-coming fighters as they worked their way up toward the top levels of the sport. The show proved wildly popular and was renewed for a second season, and the sport’s famous surge in popularity was off to a flying start.
After that, the sport got lucky by drawing a series of highly popular champs whose style of fighting outmatched anything that came before. Chuck “The Iceman” Lidell, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz became stars, and with their help, the sport reached even greater heights of fame.
Over the last three or four years, Zuffa and UFC have only continued to grow, with a series of high-profile acquisitions that have cemented UFC as the top sport of its kind in the world. They even bought the Japan-based Pride Fighting Championships, long their biggest rival in the world.
With all of these developments cementing UFC’s long-term sustainability, Zuffa is now turning toward high-tech ways of connecting to fans. They’re harnessing social networking, internet, and streaming video techniques to make the sport more interactive, and they’re also getting more organized on the athlete and management levels. In the future, fans can expect athletes to be more interactive, and for there to be more local events in more places throughout the country and the world.
And on that last note, one more exciting development with UFC is that they’re expanding on an international scale. The sport is already wildly popular in the U.S. and Canada, but the league’s owners are well aware that there is a potentially high demand for UFC in other countries. They’ve already opened up offices in China, and the company is looking to spread their sport over five continents in the coming years.