May 24, 2017

UFC: Tuesday Night Contender Series Is the Right Move To Build Divisions and Fight Pass

By Raphael Garcia

UFC Fight Pass is a platform that’s in an interesting place within the sports marketplace. The on demand platform gives fans immediate access to their favorite past fights while also giving the UFC the ability to broadcast its content frequently. Still, UFC Fight Pass hasn’t broken through the same way similar services such as the WWE Network have. UFC leadership continues to work on that, and that brought a development that will not only positively impact UFC Fight Pass, but the promotion as well.

On Friday May 12, the UFC announced a new series titled “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.” This is a show that will appear on UFC Fight Pass exclusively and will feature five fights every week. These fights will include new faces and upcoming names within the sport. Imagine the series “Dana White’s Looking for a Fight,” without all the reality TV extracurricular action. This is the right move at the right time for an organization looking to build stars.

On one side you have the fighters who are looking to break through to mainstream status. Competing across the country in regional shows allows fighters to gain experience, but it doesn’t do much for them in terms of generating the buzz to make them coveted athletes. This series allows these men and women to build their skills while building their presence on the biggest stage available to them. Imagine athletes such as Mikey Gall, Sage Northcutt, and Paige VanZant fighting on a UFC platform without having to face a roster of veterans who have nearly two and three times the amount of experience. This series has the potential to create the same growth and development as fighting on the regional circuit, but under the biggest banner available in mixed martial arts.

The promotion is set to benefit from this development as well. Live event content, such as last weekend’s Invicta FC 23 card or the Eddie Bravo Invitational are consistently amongst the most-viewed shows on the UFC platform. Invicta’s growth has allowed the UFC to build a feeder system which has developed the ranks of its women’s divisions. The Contender Series could be an opportunity to do the same thing for the men. While it will not be a full promotion with titles, it will still help stock the roster with younger talent.

The UFC continues to need to build stars. Although 2016 was a major year for the promotion, with five different events breaking 1 million PPV buys, the promotion doesn’t currently have a multitude of fighters that can headline those types of shows in 2017 and beyond. While it’s way too soon to believe that this series is going to change that, it should be considered a strong opportunity for the promotion to head in the right direction.

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