November 10, 2016

UFC 205: The Implications Go Well Beyond The Fights

By Raphael Garcia

UFC 205 is a few short days away, and the mixed martial arts world as a whole continues to brace for the impact. After years of fighting, the UFC has finally broken through for the opportunity to put on an event in “The Mecca,” also known as Madison Square Garden. With perhaps the best scheduled card in UFC history, UFC 205 is set to be a massive event, not just for that night, but for the future of the sport in a variety of ways.

Of course there are the title implications that come from Conor McGregor challenging Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title in an attempt to become the first man to hold two titles at the same time. While the UFC insists he will vacate the featherweight title with a victory, McGregor continues to assert that he’s going to hold and defend both at the same time. That pending conflict alone is enough to make this fight grab the attention of fans and experts alike. Mix in the growing star power of the longtime veteran Alvarez, and this has the makings of a monumental shift in power for the sport.

Last week it was widely reported in a number of outlets that McGregor and Ronda Rousey accounted for more than 60 percent of the UFC’s 2015 PPV revenue. By headlining this event, McGregor puts himself in a position to break his own pay-per-view records and cement a claim for even larger payouts in the future. At the same time, he directly affects the financial strength of everyone else on this card. As Donald Cerrone openly talks about being the “face” of a MMA union, best believe he is closely watching the overall impact that this event will have on the leverage and strength that McGregor can boast. As McGregor demonstrates more and more control over his career as an independent contractor signed to the UFC, fighters such as Cerrone and others will attempt to follow suit, and UFC 205 is a potential turning point for that fight.

Even beyond the main event’s impact on the financial futures of UFC fighters, there’s much more to consider when you look at UFC 205 and the changes that may come for the sport as a whole. If UFC 205 is as successful as many people expected it to be, there will be a trickle-down effect on the way the sport is received throughout the state. As the UFC and others fought to legalize the sport in NY throughout the years, one of the largest potential benefits presented to politicians was the financial benefit to the state as a whole. Millions upon millions of dollars are now expected to hit New York, as not only the UFC, but other promotions race to host events within one of the largest sports markets in North America.

As 26 men and women prepare to strap up their gloves and step into the Octagon on November 12, there’s a lot on the line for each of them. Some are fighting for titles, others are fighting for legitimacy within their respective divisions, and others are fighting for their legacies. These truths remain, but there are also other issues that may be at stake at UFC 205. The continuing contest between the power players within the UFC, as well as ramifications of the event on the long-term success of the sport in New York, are two major stories we can expect to be talking about long after the Octagon is emptied on Saturday night.



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