The foreseeable future of the UFC/Unified Rules MMA is bleak in North America. The UFC is stripping itself of all it's flavor and individuality. They seem to have adopted a military mindset: Make everybody the same. That's a mistake. What made mma so great in the golden age was that fighters were like video game characters. Everybody had a unique look, unique back story, unique personalities, and unique fighting styles. Now? Most UFC guys fight the same way (which is a product of both the evolution of the sport, plus the fighters adapting to exploit the damn Unified Rules and the cage), most fighters look similar (lots and lots of tats, shaved heads), and with this Reebok deal, gone are the days of fighters having their own shorts that are part of their image: ^ you know exactly who wore those. Most of us do. Making everybody wear basically the same shit is like telling Rocky he can't wear his American flag shorts. It's just wrong. Zuffa seems to think that people watch fights, just to watch fights. Seeing a mixed martial arts fight on tv back in 2005, WAS the shit! Most of us didn't care who was fighting. We just wanted to see some martial arts fights. Times have changed, boys. Now there are fights on every other day, between "fighter A!" and "fighter B!" and nobody cares anymore. Dana, Lorenzo...listen good. I'm about to tell you what movie/tv show producers have known for decades. CHARACTERS are what keep people invested!!!! You ever watch LOST? Ok, weird shit happens on an island. Cool. But you cannot sustain fan interest in that alone, if you have a metric fuck-ton of characters that we don't know well, we don't give a shit about, and very shortly they are killed off. You would say "well what was the point in THAT?" The LOST crew knew this, so immediately they made sure fans got to know Jack, Locke, Hurley,etc. You get to know their back stories. You get to know their personalities, their strengths, their weaknesses, their motivations. You begin to care what happens to them. You become invested. That applies to any show/movie/entertainment product. It's really fucking simple, you goofs! Pride knew this, which is why most of us can still name half the Pride roster off the top of our heads, even the obscure guys. And Zuffa USED to know this. But they've gotten away from it. And before you start in on me about recent ppv numbers being "the best ever!" hang on a sec. Yeah I know the recent ppv numbers, but those figures can be manipulated. A company can buy ppv's on it's own to falsely inflate the sense of value of a product. They can also quietly purchase seats in the arena, to inflate the gate figures. Why would they do that? To raise the market/sale value of a product. ARE they doing that? Don't know, but I have a hunch. The REAL gauge of fan interest is to ask ANYBODY you know in real life if they know who Connor Mcgregor is, or if they still follow the UFC at all. Most people you know will NOT...I would put money on that. Another indicator: if you were on this forum around 2005-2010 you will notice the number of members here...the hardcore die-hard mma fans....has dropped considerably. The reality is, interest in mma is down, people. I believe we are in a new Dark Age. And that's odd, considering mma is shown now more than ever before. Yet most people you will come across in daily life simply don't give a shit about mma anymore, or have any idea who the fighters are. But there is hope on the horizon. Play this song as you read this next part of the post [YT]1BeRpAORAps[/YT] I've always held the opinion that the 2000-2010 era of mma was the golden age, the high water mark, and that mma will NEVER be like that again. I always figured with the Unified Rules, the things that made Pride so different from western mma....the one-night tournaments, open weight tournaments, soccer kicks/stomps, freak show fights, crossover fights, the lax drug testing, etc....went the way of the dinosaur and could never legally happen again. Not with the sanctioning of mma. To me, what made the "golden age" of mma so golden, was having 2 completely different flavors of mma to satisfy us. The UFC is chocolate ice cream. I love chocolate ice cream. We all do. But dammit man I don't want to eat chocolate ice cream every week. Sometimes I want some vanilla. Pride is vanilla ice cream. It's delicious. It's refreshing. I like to switch it up every few weeks. And mixing chocolate and vanilla together? That's the best. Scott Coker taking the reigns at Bellator got me excited about mma's future for the first time in years. But Bellator is still under the unified rules and even if they rise to say, Strikeforce level, and can marginally compete with the UFC, that would be terrific but it still will NOT be anything even remotely close to what the epic UFC vs PRIDE wars were back in the mid-2000's. Awhile back I read that Sakakibara is getting back into the mma game also, and was planning a show for new years this year. No clue what the latest news is on that, or if it's happening at all, but that also gave me a twinge of excitement about the future of mma. Sakakibara and Coker have worked together before, are friends, and would absolutely co-promote and both have stated they are more than willing to do crossover fights between their 2 promotions. THAT is the only thing that is going to be able to dethrone the UFC....a coalition between Sakakibara, Coker and anyone else they would be willing to work with. So why can't Sakakibara, or anyone else, create another PRIDE in Japan, in this day and age? It wouldn't be Pride, it would be something new. But why couldn't they follow the Pride blueprint? -minus the yakuza element of course. Japanese orgs won't have to follow the Unified Rules, so couldn't they use the exact same rules Pride used? And the epic Pride presentation. Why couldn't they hire the exact same people/firms that handled those things for Pride? Get some tyko drummers, giant screens, blue lights, screaming Pride lady (I miss her), get back quadros/bas/mauro/once in awhile throw in Frank Shamrock, Pat Miletich, Randy Couture, etc. to commentate. So what's preventing this from happening in the future? What are the hurdles? - 1. I figure Japanese interest in mma has dwindled, much like western interest in mma is dwindling So the promoter would have to find a way to rekindle the interest, at least somewhat. - 2. Japanese steer clear of anything have the stink of yakuza scandal attached to it. That image could be shed over time with strong and clever marketing strategies, I'm guessing. - 3. No tv deal in Japan. Well surely there is a way to get another tv deal over there. And if not, why not explore other mediums? ppv, internet, get movie theaters to show fights, something! - 4. Financing. I know very little about how that works. But I know smart businessmen can find ways to get backing. It might take several years, but I imagine it's doable.