From jdlasica on Flickr.
It’s been rumored that the McMahon family has been itching to become involved with mixed martial arts in some form for quite a while now. Those same rumors were similar for popular billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The only difference between the two sides at this point is that Cuban actually did enter the game by way of his fledgling HDNet Fights promotion last year.
In a recent interview with Jonathan Huntington of The Edmonton Sun, Cuban revealed his intentions to partner up with the first family of professional wrestling when asked if he was planning on building a promotion that would rival the UFC along with Vince and company.
“We are looking to partner where we can, do our own promotions where it makes sense,” Cuban said in the interview. “We think the future is built around the fighters and their personalities. No one else has this focus and partnership approach. We think it’s a winner.”
If there were any doubts as to whether or not pro wrestling and MMA would be able to interact and benefit from each other, one needs to look no further than Brock Lesnar’s debut at UFC 81: Breaking Point earlier this month. The event generated close to 650,000 PPV buys according to Dave Meltzer, the third highest total in UFC history.
So is a relationship between Cuban and the McMahons good or bad for the sport? It could turn out to be both.
Luke Thomas of Bloody Elbow has pointed out on many occasions that Cuban being involved with the sport and his strong stance on protecting the fighters could potentially lead to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act being seriously discussed at some point. Some say that Cuban’s lawsuit against Zuffa seeking a declaratory judgment concerning the contractual status of Randy Couture could open up a can of worms when it comes to the act.
In my opinion, the courts picking up on the fact that the sport hasn’t reformed to include the act would be absolutely huge. Not only would it restrict the type of contracts that Zuffa currently signs its fighters to but it would also force them to finally release a lot of post-event numbers that media and fans alike have been itching for, regardless if they are a private company or not.
I’m sure those who have a beef with fighters continuing to be underpaid even though the sport is exploding in popularity appreciate the fact that both Cuban and the McMahons have extremely deep pockets and the ability to attract big-time marketing and advertising opportunities because of past successes. I know that I do.
I’ve long been a proponent of Zuffa finally releasing the grip they have on all of the cash they are making and finally paying fighters what they deserve. It’s absolutely ridiculous when a guy like Kalib Starnes travels all the way to Ohio from British Columbia and only makes $7,000, an amount that basically dwindles down to nothing after travel expenses, being taxed by the US even though you aren’t even a citizen, and hospital fees after requiring stitches.
I realize that Dana White and the Fertittas take care of their top stars very well but it’s time to share the wealth. The UFC has been grossing larger gates and PPV revenues than boxing and pro wrestling for long enough. They have the dough.
But what about the other side of the spectrum?
The ever-informed Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion stated last week, and I agree with him, that one of the fears amongst most of the hardcore MMA fans is that McMahon being involved in the sport would end up in him creating a product eerily similar to the WWE.
While it’s always fun to follow a storyline or watch a fighter flaunt his personality from time to time, there’s no reason for a guy like Michael Bisping to capitalize on the fact that many fans dislike him and go William Regal on us. The UFC has jumped on opportunities that provide fights with an entertaining backstory but the ‘get right down to business and fight’ type of approach has worked well for them up until this point.
One has to also wonder how mainstream media would react to the McMahons official entry into the sport. Vince is already widely known as a successful businessman but also a scumbag that loves to push the envelope as well. (Let’s not forget that he killed himself off on live television and is currently using an incest-related storyline on Raw)
The sport fought for so long to become sanctioned, gain respect, and finally be recognized as an actual sport. Would the McMahons slowly turn it back into a spectacle? We can only wait and see.
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