This promises to be an important year for most major MMA organizations, with each facing unique challenges in a shifting landscape. There have been significant movements of talent, with more likely on the horizon. The business plans for many organizations have shifted with new revenue streams and distribution methods. MMA product saturation means that these promotions face serious risks if they make the wrong moves. With that in mind, here are some key points for MMA’s elite promotions to focus on for a successful 2019:
Professional Fighters League: Build Around Kayla Harrison
The Professional Fighters League spent an extravagant amount of money on its tournament format in 2018. Giving out $6 million in prize money in one night to mostly unknown fighters was a feel-good story for the fighters who won, but it didn’t do a lot to enhance the promotion’s status moving forward. The idea behind the rich payouts should have been to attract more marketable talent. Instead, the PFL got largely the same talent but simply paid it way above-market value. If the PFL has money to spend and is willing to pay above-market value, there should be one athlete first in line and that’s Harrison. Harrison has everything one looks for in a breakthrough MMA star. She has the Olympic gold medal credentials. She has an engaging personality and is willing to promote herself. She also looks like a beast already in MMA competition just three fights in. Before spending any additional money on tournaments, the PFL should lock down Harrison to an exclusive long-term contract. It should look at signing Cristiane Justino and building her up as an opponent when the Brazilian’s contract is due, as well. When fans think of the PFL, get them to think about Harrison first.
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