The new UFC owners are quickly learning that without big stars, the brand isn’t nearly as valuable. Ronda is likely done, Jones is suspended, and McGregor openly trashes the company and is threatening to box Mayweather with or without the UFC’s involvement (and from reading the Ali act, it sounds like he can). This has resulted in the company caving in to GSP’s demands for a comeback now after rejecting his same terms last year.
The desperation signing of GSP parallels the WWE in some ways in their reliance on part timers. At some point post-Cena, the company decided to promote the brand before stars and while I can see the reasoning behind this thinking long-term, it ensures that nobody will ever be the next Hogan, Austin, Rock, or Cena. There is nobody from today’s generation that is recognizable by the mainstream, there are barely any casual fans, and it seems like the company has no idea how to create one.
The main difference here is that UFC has regularly replaced stars older like Ortiz, Liddell, Couture, Lesnar, GSP, and Silva. Since WWE has the ability to control wins/losses and give personality/gimmicks, how is it they continue to fail while MMA just keeps lucking out?
I don’t know how much UFC is lucking out lately, given how many freak injuries have decimated their lineups. Still, Diaz v. Conor alone has already drawn as much money in two PPVs as WWE grossed last year on all their PPV shows.
The other thing is that the guys who are currently with UFC no longer have the same dedication to the company that they had when it was run by the Fertitta group, since gutting the office for budget reasons doesn’t really lend itself to long term loyalty. So it could very well be that pretty soon we’ll start seeing a mass exodus to the Bellators of the world when contracts come due.