Does UFC Have a Star Problem?

Does the UFC have as big of a star problem many say they have?

(Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/GettyImages)

This has been the age old question since UFC's rise to popularity, "Do they have enough star power?" This question was being asked back when Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture were the fixtures. UFC moved on from those 3 pretty smoothly when Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre took over as the two big Pay Per View sellers. The questions were asked once again, "What is the UFC going to do after Silva and GSP?" Then came the young star of Jon Jones, followed by Ronda Rousey and now their biggest star ever in Conor McGregor. But as Rousey's star seems to have fade as quickly as it began, Jones hasn't stepped foot in the Octagon in over a year because he cant stay out of legal trouble and we all know McGregor's eye on fighting outside of the Octagon. The question has came up again, "Does the UFC have enough star power?"

The answer is an obvious yes but with some shades of grey sprinkled in. Lets start off with the obvious, they have the biggest star in combat sports in Conor McGregor. I know the boxing and Floyd fans are going to argue this, but PPV buys as of late have pointed to Conor taking over the mantle. In Floyd's last 4 PPV fights only 1 has surpassed 1 million buys and that was the super fight against Manny Pacquiao. While yes that fight was massive with its 4.5 plus million buys, that fight was followed up by one of Floyd's lowest purchased fights in close to a decade with just 400K buys.

Compare that to Conor McGregor's last 4 PPV fights, all 4 have surpassed 1 million buys and 2 of those fights claim the top 2 spots for UFC's biggest PPV buys. Unlike Floyd, Conor is consistently selling 1 million plus PPV buys without needing a super fight to help get it there. 

A star in the making for the UFC is the young new Bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. He won his title on UFC 207 which was on the same card as Ronda Rousey's last fight and had over 1 million PPV buys. So there were plenty of eye balls that saw the dominant 5 round performance Garbrandt put on to win the belt. Garbrandt has all the makings to be a legit star for the UFC, he's young, attractive and his fights are always exciting. 

(Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/GettyImages)

So looking at the current roster, UFC has fighters like Conor, Cody Garbrandt, Jon Jones and now you can even throw in a guy like Stipe Miocic who has been getting solid PPV buys as a headliner. That's a good solid list of fighters you can count on for solid to good PPV buys with Conor being the guy to get them top notch PPV buys.

This is where the shades of grey comes in that I was talking about before. Who knows when will be the last time we see Conor in the Octagon, Jones can't be a guy UFC can rely on for a good card because they don't know if he will be able to fight. Garbrandt the young star is dealing with back issues and just had to pull out of his upcoming title fight. Right now Stipe Miocic is the biggest name UFC has that they can rely on to put on a card and know he's going to end up fighting. The problem with that is Stipe and the UFC have had well known contract issues and Stipe has stated he wants to take some time off.

I think there is no doubt UFC has the stars on the roster, its just a matter of those stars getting inside the Octagon and fighting. UFC has been tremendous building new stars and I don't see any signs of that slowing down anytime soon. The fighters just need to stay healthy and out of trouble or in Conor's case, get back to fighting in the Octagon and not a ring.

May 30, 2017


David Graves