Opinion: Another Round in the UFC vs. Bellator War of Words
By Jesse Heitz
Early this week, the MMA world received a bit of a shock. The bosses of the largest Mixed Martial Arts promotion in the world, the UFC, and arguably the second largest promotion, Bellator, took aim at one another. It’s yet another chapter in the seemingly heated rivalry that dominated the MMA industry.
When asked during a press conference in Brazil about the possibility of Zuffa purchasing Bellator at some point in the future, UFC President, Dana White, as reported by bloodyelbow.com, stated,
“There’s nothing there. If you look at any other company we ended up buying in the past, there was value. There’s no value to that company whatsoever.”
“If you look at Pride, look at all the contracts we got from Pride, all the guys that came over. Look at Pride’s library. Amazing library, with some of the most talented fighters of all times. When we bought [World Fighting Alliance], we bought it because Rampage had a contract with them. When we bought Strikeforce, we bought their library. Just the fights we had with Nick Diaz alone were worth buying that company.”
Bellator Chieftain, Bjorn Rebney, quickly fired back with a comment published by mmafighting.com, stated,
“It hasn’t been my practice to respond to his ongoing focus on Bellator. My focus is on the expansion of the Bellator brand worldwide and constantly creating a better more exciting, entertaining product for our fans. But….when he lofts softballs like this over the plate, you just have to take a swing. And, the facts here are that the UFC’s Partners at FOX just made a multi-year commitment, worth tens of millions of dollars to the Bellator brand. If that doesn’t paint a clear picture on value, I don’t know what would.”
Over the past few years the entire world has been privy to many tiffs between these two promotional heavyweights. Although in all fairness, Dana White’s overly abrasive style is much to blame. But hey, I get it, one rival will always seek to denigrate the product of his competitor, it’s a tactic that businessmen in every industry have long utilized.
Dana White is also in the position of being able to claim that the product he offers is the undisputed best in the business. However, this does not mean by any stretch of one’s imagination that Bellator offers a wholly inferior product. Bellator may not be the equivalent of Pride FC, but it’s significantly better than the WFA, which Zuffa saw fit to buy. A case could also be made that it has more value than Strikeforce did when Zuffa purchased it. In fact, the simple fact that White talked at length about Bellator’s supposed inferiority, it’s lack of value, may very well indicate that White himself has realized that Bellator is proving itself to be a serious competitor, a real thorn in Zuffa’s paw.
Let’s face it, at this point the UFC is the superior product. It has a higher quality of talent and better production. However, it’s important to note that the UFC is also the original MMA company, and had nearly twenty years to shore up its grip on the industry. Who knows, in business, particularly given Bellator’s connections and the bulwark of cash it sits upon, it could someday rise to the top.