Can UFC Benefit From The NBA Lockout?


Is it wild to think that the UFC has a lot to benefit from the NBA Lockout?  The sports are seemingly diametric.  Basketball is a finesse game that penalizes contact.  Mixed Martial Arts is all about contact.  And while MMA fighters can put on the same kind of athletic and artistic display as basketball players, there is an unavoidable element of brutality that makes many uncomfortable.  The rate of content differs as well.  Individuals who pay for cable can expect to see at least five NBA games a weak during the peak of the season.  New UFC content is usually available two to three times per month, including at least two Pay-Per-View events.  At the very least, we can claim that it’s not an intuitive jump.

How many NBA players would bow to each other out of respect?

But the UFC is poised to make that jump happen.  A new deal signed with FOX Sports is going to be bringing the UFC to primetime network television.  On Saturday November 12, the UFC will air their first UFC on FOX event.  The event will be headlined by a title match between Heavyweight Champion, Cain Valasquez and Junior Dos Santos.  FOX Sports has been airing commercials since the deal was struck promoting the show during NFL Football broadcasts on Sundays.  You know what kind of audience that is, and how money of them watch NBA Basketball as well.  They have been promoting the event as well, with a promotional video called UFC Primetime.  The video focuses on both men as intelligent, hard working, family men, and as martial artists, rather than angry, flamboyant prize fighters.  It’s an image the UFC portrays of their fighters regularly, in large part because it is one that is accurate.  There are loudmouths and knuckleheads in all pro sports, and MMA has its share.  But the vast majority of UFC stars are the thoughtful, respectful types.  The juxtaposition of  artistry and brutality is what makes MMA such a fast growing sport.


So the majority of NBA fans may find the fighting a bit too much.  But there are a lot of young males that watch the NBA, and that is the demographic that the UFC does best in.  Dos Santos and Valasquez also know all to well how much the entire sport is relying on them to put on a good fight.  They must each press the action and go for the knockout or submission.  It’s likely to be a very good event.  Should the UFC be able to hook some of these NBA fans, they then have a massive archive of free content, mostly previous PPV events, that will air on FX regularly, and Fox Sports Net.  “New to Me” content can replace live athletic events, for that sports on a Tuesday or Thursday itch.  Meanwhile, most fans would have attended a game may think about purchasing at least one UFC PPV event per year, or watching them at a bar once or twice a month.  Either way, UFC gets eyes on its content.

Now, I don’t believe that MMA could replace basketball for fans.  Given the choice, a basketball fan will watch hoops over anything else.  But this is a great opportunity for the UFC to gain viewership while there is a dearth of sports on weeknights.  Despite the differences between the sports, I believe that a significant amount of NBA fans will tune in for the event and that Valasquez and Dos Santos will put on a show.  If both things happen, the UFC may get a major boost in revenue, and the NBA will be reminded of what its missing out on.


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