Throughout 2014, theUFC has made a valiant attempt at global expansion met with differing results and reception. The addition of over a dozen fight shows throughout the year has stretched the company roster thin and left many shows (namely UFC 177) with underwhelming cards.
The UFC isn’t completely to blame in this situation. A series of unfortunate injuries sidelined top-name talent including champions Cain Velasquez, Johny Hendricks, Anthony Pettis, Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz as well as challengers Alexander Gustafsson, Cat Zingano and others. It probably doesn’t help that other main event names like Junior dos Santos, Rashad Evans, Carlos Condit, George St-Pierre and Anderson Silva are on the shelf as well.
The situation wasn’t without the UFC’s faults, however. Despite being ready in July, UFC didn’t book Anthony Pettis to fight top contender Gil Melendez until December, 15 months after having won the title. With more shows than ever the company has to fire on all cylinders and not rely on main events such as Ovince St. Preux vs. Ryan Bader.
Any regional company wants to expand to a national company. National companies that are ambitious enough to become global companies have hurdles they have to jump through as well. The thought process of the UFC opening up the international markets was that more shows would create more stars, and more stars would create more interest. Unfortunately the move has often backfired, leaving the UFC looking like an uninspired program just throwing cards together.
The fears of those who expected a diluted product have been realized. With all due respect to Tony Ferguson and Danny Castillo, they shouldn’t be in the co-main event slot of a pay-per-view at this point. Yet with almost a dozen names off the table, it’s not like the promotion stood much of a chance.
In the coming months, the big names of the UFC will start to work their way back to the big time. Whether it be from injuries or contract disputes, the diluted roster has been the main reason why the fight cards have fallen on their faces this year. 2013 saw the UFC do its best pay-per-view numbers since 2010, while this year has seen record lows in many departments.
Assuming the UFC doesn’t have its same string of horrible luck in 2015, it’ll be the first opportunity to really showcase how well global expansion of the company can go. With stacked cards from September until January, we’ll get a taste of it.