Does UFC Need A New Face of the Company?

UFC Need A New Face!

Every major sport usually craves and desires an athlete to transcend the sport and bring casual fans into the sport. Babe Ruth was the legend that made baseball America’s past time while Michael Jordan reinvented the NBA and sports marketing in a manner that has never been seen before. The new competition on the block is MMA which has grown in leaps and bounds over the last three decades. Currently, the UFC is able to get television exposure on networks such as ESPN and Fox which will continue to grow the sport of MMA while also creating more revenue streams.  Now one question that can be asked is does UFC need a face of the company?

The UFC has had some fighters that have created a unique buzz that allows the UFC to draw crossover media access that facilitates exposure and increases legitimacy. One athlete who started in the UFC and was able to gain opportunities in Hollywood was Ronda Rousey.  Rousey was not only the top draw for the female division of the UFC but the entire entity as a whole. Her dominance of the women's division rivaled that of how Mike Tyson dominated the boxing ring. When a UFC card had Rousey on the card it was an entertainment event as the crowd wanted to see if  Rousey’s competitors could make it round two. Out of Rousey’s first 12 fights, only 2 of her opponents made it passed the one minute mark of the first round. There were movie offers and photo shoots for magazines that Rousey cashed in on to help build her brand along with the UFC. Yet, similar to Tyson, Rousey eventually was upended by Holly Holm. The defeated by Holm was followed by a 13-month sabbatical that ended in a crushing defeat to Amanda Nunes. Since the loss to Nunes, Rousey has not entered the octagon.

Rousey and McGregor are past their prime

While Rousey was the flag bearer for the women's division, Conor McGregor was the main draw for the men’s division. Unlike Rousey,  McGregor did not have a massive streak of 1st round TKOs. McGregor drew people's attention for his brash antics and unapologetic demeanor. Also when it came time to fight McGregor could perform as McGregor won multiple UFC titles in multiple weight classes. McGregor became a top draw yet his relationship soured with the UFC and with a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018, McGregor’s star power took a hit.

While the UFC has benefited from the crossover stardom of Rousey and McGregor the sport is in decent shape without both Rousey and McGregor. The UFC is still a television draw,  the UFC is still selling out arenas, and it looks like UFC is here to stay. While a multi-media draw might not be permanently on the UFC roster there is someone who does have that potential. 

Israel Adesanya currently has a 17-0 record as an MMA fighter and is currently the number on a contender in the UFC Middleweight division and is the interim champion because of champion Robert Whittaker had to go under surgery the day of his last fight.  Now there is a pending fight between Whittaker and Adesanya to unify their titles but if Adesanya is used properly there is a way to help launch his persona.

First, Adesanya would need to defeat Whittaker and this defeat needs to occur in the first round either by knockout or submission. When it came to Mike Tyson and Rousey they both helped catapult there crossover appeal by absolutely crushing their opponents quickly in the first round. Second, there would need to be a fight against a big name most likely McGregor. While McGregor has tasted defeat and would need to step up in weight class McGregor will draw the casual fan to the fight. And by drawing the casual fan this will allow for Adesanya to get exposure to a different audience. 

There could be another fight that would draw attention and that could be Adesanya vs. Daniel Cormier. DC is currently the  UFC heavyweight champion but has won the light-heavyweight championship. If Adesanya is able to step up in weight class and able to pull out the victory against DC that could help legitimize Adesanya as the best fighter in the UFC.

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