The Better Mousetrap

Anybody else getting sick of all these supposed up-and-coming, we’ll-builda- better-mousetrap organizations who throw a whole slew of hot air out there but fail over and over again? Elite XC, Affl iction and the many others who have promised investors they would be the ones to overthrow the mighty UFC.

Seriously, I’m done with it. Call me when a true, viable and extremely lucrative group comes on the scene run by solid business men who realize this is about business. Folks who don’t live to stroke their ego by relishing in talking a big game about the UFC.

The UFC is here to stay and rightfully so. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, their production value, fi ghters and track record are light years above and beyond anything else we may ever see and certainly have seen to date. Trust me, I know, I’ve worked for every organization and/ or broadcast team BUT them.

Because MMA is now a growing world, exploding into mainstream faster than the rise of gas prices, every Tom, Dick and Harry from the business world with a get-rich-quick scheme feels he’ll have what it takes to slay the UFC dragon. But these mad men have no idea what they don’t know or that they don’t know. They don’t know that they don’t know what they don’t know… ya know?

Say what you want about the Fertitas and Dana White, but they are business men who present themselves as business men and have a proven track record dealing in the business world with the big boys. Look at their competition. Gary and Jared Shaw? Is a comment really needed? Snake oil salesmen to say the least. I remember sitting in production meetings with Gary Shaw thinking to myself, “I sit in meetings with the professional GMs, head coaches and owners of the NFL, get this guy out of here!” Consistently interrupting fi ghters to make sure they say wonderful, witty things to us about the man in the break-dancing jump suit. His son, whatever his nickname is with the ridiculous dollar sign in it… is there really an explanation needed as to why they failed? Any organization run by caricatures is doomed from the start. Yet we all were tempted to actually believe there was a new kid on the block who could possibly take on the neighborhood bully.

That’s what happens when two guys who make no attempt to act or seem professional base an entire franchise around a guy who is trying to be a fi ghter after he whipped a bunch of bums on the street. It’s not Kimbo’s fault, it’s the fault of all those sycophants who didn’t know enough about their own sport to know Slice was waaaaay off from being a top-level professional mixed martial artist.

Affl iction lasted all of one show before it had to postpone a show. At least the folks at Strikeforce understand good quality and how to build slowly but surely. They are taking baby steps so as not to overextend their cash fl ow. Why don’t more people learn from them? Why? Because the egos of businessmen kill this business. Just because you know business in one fi eld doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in another. I tell this to NFL owners all the time. Would you hire an NFL coach to run your outside ventures? Fuck no! Why would you take an outside business man and let him help you with your football team?

Last year I was requested for a business meeting in Vegas. A friend of mine pleaded that I meet with his serious group of investors and supposed business moguls who were attempting to get into the world of mixed martial arts. Sure, right? Why not?

I immediately was slapped with the reality as to why most groups will never succeed. Why? Most of them are completely full of shit! Completely! These men boasted of their business acumen while acting like they were oozing cash. But the reality check came when I informed them what it would take to weather the storm and do this thing right.

“Be prepared to lose $90 million in the fi rst three years,” I said. “I’m not saying you will lose that fi gure, but in order to plow ahead the proper way and deal with the fi nancial setbacks this sport’s promotions often run into. Be prepared to lose that amount without blinking.”

Their reaction? I’m crazy! They were business leaders and insisted their knowledge in how to make money far outweighed any insight a schlub like me could profess. You know what folks? Hubris killed many a Greek hero. They couldn’t possibly fathom losing this type of cash before they began to make a profi t, not with their expertise. Ignorance.

If the UFC had to endure such hardships to climb to this point of the ladder, why wouldn’t anyone else? Why can somebody else cut corners? They can’t and this leads to why so many others fail. They want to run up the ladder right past the UFC all the while ignorantly believing they can miss a handful of rungs. It doesn’t work that way.

They just don’t know. They don’t know our business and even the few who do have little idea what the UFC had to march through in order to become the giant it is today. It happened with an awful lot of loss, severe hardships, and too many days where the entire ship nearly sank.

This business does not succeed with a fad fi ghter like Kimbo nor with a group who wants to succeed out of spite or as a marketing arm for another product like Affl iction. I’m sure we’ll see more of these promotions come and go and hear a boatload of noise from those who try to convince us they can build a better mousetrap.

But the truth is, unless someone comes in with tons of cash they are willing to lose, somehow sign a slew of fi ghters they can claim are better than the ones in the UFC (at least Pride had this ability), a solid, lucrative TV deal and a guy running the show who isn’t a complete buffoon, we’ll all get teased over and over again.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in business I never try to forget it’s this… just because you think you’ve built a better mousetrap doesn’t mean people want to buy it. There’s so much more to it than that.

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