UFC, however, is not invincible. Several of its top fighters have defected to other MMA leagues after disputes over pay with UFC president Dana White. And some UFC observers said that while White deserves most of the credit for the league’s dominance, his confrontational management style could limit UFC’s growth.
What’s more, some rival MMA groups are getting a big financial boost from billionaire Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner and founder of cable network HDNet. The all high-definition network shows fights from six different MMA organizations including DREAM, Strikeforce and Adrenaline.
Asked whether he believed HDNet could offer successful MMA programming without UFC, HDNet Fights CEO Andrew Simon responded, “Yes and we have been.” He argued that the upcoming fights from DREAM and Strikeforce will offer a better card than the latest UFC pay-per-view event.
That’s up for debate, but industry observers said HDNet Fights shows promise because of the strong financial backing and the diverse array of promotions that offer the network protection.
“I like Mark Cuban’s approach,” said Adam Swift, editor of MMApayout.com, a Web site devoted to the business of MMA. “It’s very incremental and ‘Let’s go slow and steady.’”