Elite XC looks to make mark in crowded MMA market
Posted: Monday July 16, 2007 12:48PM; Updated: Monday July 16, 2007 12:48PM
As mixed martial arts rises in popularity in the United States, many promotions are looking to get a piece of the action. With UFC possessing such an advantage in terms of recognition, visibility and market share, it will be an uphill battle for challengers.
The difficulty for upstart MMA promotions is that in order to draw, you need to create stars. Without that star power, it is next to impossible to get people to pay to see the product. However, with such a crowded landscape, stars command very high salaries. It becomes practically necessary to overpay for those stars, ensuring that any upstart MMA promotion trying to run on the national level is going to start in the red.
This creates a very tricky balancing act. On the one hand, you have to bring in fighters who will generate excitement and attention. On the other hand, you have to ensure that you don't lose so much money in the process that you cannot sustain yourself in the long term.
Different promotions have had problems on each end. The International Fight League has avoided paying top stars to fight, and as such has had great difficulty generating interest for any of their cards. Bodog Fight has been aggressive about spending money, but large paydays for Matt Lindland and Fedor Emelianenko netted a very discouraging pay-per-view buy rate.
The promotion that has shown the best potential to walk that fine line is the Elite XC promotion. With a stable of marketable fighters and the backing of Showtime Networks Elite XC is looking to become a familiar name to casual MMA fans.
Elite XC was founded in late 2006 in partnership with Showtime Networks. A major player in the promotion's foundation was longtime boxing promoter Gary Shaw, who witnessed the growth of MMA from the outside, and was convinced to get involved by a family member closer to MMA's target demographic.
Shaw notes, "My son Jared kept telling me, 'Dad, you've got to get involved.' I told him 'I'm a boxing promoter,' but he said the train was pulling out and I needed to be on it. That resonated with me, and from that point on I took a deep hard look." Shaw used his connections with Showtime to set up a home for Elite XC.
Shaw views MMA as a sport that has yet to reach its popularity potential. "I think mixed martial arts hasn't even begun to explode. It hasn't reached the tip of the iceberg and is still building the foundation."