The war of words continues between EliteXC’s Gary Shaw and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White.
Since joining the mixed martial arts fray in 2006, Shaw has had words for White, but his most recent comments to Steve Cofield in an article published by Fox Sports were aimed squarely at the UFC’s dominance.
“It was easy for UFC before there was competition. There was no other choice in the past. Once you have choices, there’s a problem,” said Shaw. “You can’t stuff a pay-per view down the throat of the fan every month if there are other choices out there. I don’t know what their real pay-per-view numbers are, but I guarantee you they’re not doing the 700,000-800,000 pay-per-view numbers now. And you don’t hear them bragging about it.”
He went on to say that EliteXC’s emergence in the market was causing the UFC to have to pay more for its fighters, since there was now more bidding for their services.
The comments didn’t sit well with White, who told Yahoo! Sports, “We beat our pay-per-view numbers from last year. We just don’t brag about it because we don’t talk about our business in the public.”
He continued, “And if we were getting competition, it’s not coming from EliteXC and both of the people who are watching their shows. This guy is a low-level bottom feeder. He didn’t like MMA a few years ago, but when he finally couldn’t make money at boxing any more, he came over to this sport to try to leech money out of it.”
It’s hard to argue with the success that the UFC has had. And despite EliteXC and others’ attempts to secure the services of fighters like Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Dan Henderson, all three are currently under contract with the UFC.
The promotion’s most recent event, UFC 79 garnered a live gate revenue of more that $4.9 million, the second largest in mixed martial arts history.
Of course, along with the mainstream growth of the sport, there will be the EliteXCs, M-1 Globals, HDNet Fights, and others that will attempt to at least carve out a piece of the pie.
The UFC hasn’t been sitting idly by however, resting on its laurels.
“We had a kick ass 2007. It was an aggressive year for us; buying Pride, (World Extreme Cagefighting), cover of Sports Illustrated, moving into Europe, and next year’s going to be even bigger,” said White recently.
The UFC has already announced plans for 2008 that include more dates in the U.K., its debut in Canada, a move into Germany, a focus on opening up New York to sanctioning, and more.
EliteXC has been aggressively pursuing partnerships and acquiring other promotions in attempts to expand its own reach throughout the globe.
The new M-1 Global has already partnered with various other organizations in Japan to promote a New Year’s Eve event that harkens back to the days of the Pride Fighting Championships.
And HDNet Fights has been quietly starting its promotional offerings and working with other organizations to provide a television outlet, the HDNet hi-definition channel, for their offerings.
There is definitely more activity in the industry than at any point in history and various scenarios are developing at a rapid pace, but whether EliteXC or anyone else proves a competitor on par with the UFC will take time to play out.