After a lackluster 2017, the UFC looks to reboot in 2018. Will 2018 be a successful year for the UFC?
FRANK HYDEN, MMATorch Columnist
I think so. It’s all relative, but I think it’ll be an okay for them. I’m a naturally optimistic person so I’m looking at this as a challenge for the UFC. If they don’t have Conor McGregor there to help boost pay-per-view buys, maybe they better invest in the people they do have. For example, heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson are extremely exciting fighters and both should be bigger stars than they are. Maybe next year the UFC gets behind them more fully and is rewarded with a good year? I’d like to think so.
RAFFAEL IGLESIAS, MMATorch Contributor
The financial success of the UFC depends on the names that may come back in 2018. The UFC relies on pay-per-view, therefore needing marquee fights and names to draw bigger numbers. Names like Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, Brock Lesnar, and Phil Brooks (CM Punk) will bring people out of the woodwork but those are all “ifs.” The UFC has some unbelievable fighters right now and has generational talent like Demetrious Johnson and Max Holloway that are dominant. The aforementioned names do not necessarily move the needle however. If success is to be measured by entertaining and high-level fights, then the UFC should enjoy another year of unquestionable success.
DAVE KOULA, MMATorch Contributor
Depends on how you measure success. This year was incredibly successful from a total revenue standpoint, but pay-per-view buys and tv ratings were down on the whole after a rough first half of the year.
I think 2018 looks really bright. There’s a ton of momentum coming from the latter half of 2017, and with the emergence of some fresh and entertaining faces in and around the main event scene hardcore fight fans have a ton to look forward to and the masses should come along as word of mouth and hopefully a sharper promotional focus follow.
UFC 220 and 221 are shaping up nicely, the women’s bantamweight and men’s flyweight titles should be on the line sooner rather than later, and rematches of Rose Namajunas- Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Dustin Poirier-Eddie Alvarez should also be on the horizon. And maybe, just maybe, Conor McGregor will grace us with his presence in the Octagon. Maybe even a Diaz or two as well.
All that said, from both a business and fan standpoint, the UFC’s television rights are up in 2018, and how that goes financially and what that ends up looking like for fan accessibility will be a big factor for what success for the year ultimately ends up looking like.
SEAN COVINGTON, MMATorch Contributor
I believe it will be because there are a ton of big fights ready to be made: Conor McGregor vs whoever, Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou, Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk 2, Amanda Nunes vs Shevchenko 3, T.J. Dillashaw vs Cody Garbrandt 2, Demetrious Johnson vs. Garbrandt /Dillashaw. Then fantasy booking such as: Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes, Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm 2 (if Holm had the belt which I doubt), Jon Jones vs. Brock Lesnar, (assuming Jones wins his appeals) and plenty more. Not to mention they can (and should) make an entire pay-per-view with just middleweights alone, maybe even a Pride-style tournament.
The UFC should also announce a streaming network much like the WWE Network, even if they aren’t planning one because they should be. The strong support and feedback they would get from fans would tell them that once they announce it.
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