The time has come for a change in the way an elite-level MMA show takes place. The MFC has always run a tight ship – we have to because of live television. That means starting on time, correctly spacing out the fights, and making sure everything happens as close to perfectly executed clockwork as possible. But it’s still not enough.
This is the generation of instantaneous news, Twitter and Facebook status updates that can reach millions in mere seconds, and Google searches that can provide access to information at a moment’s notice.
So why is a mixed martial arts fight card an epic production that lasts for hours? Look at our counterparts in other sports:
The average length of an NHL game – 2:19
The average length of an NBA game – 2:30
The average length of an MLB game – 2:47
The average length of an NFL game – 3:11
Even in the age of multi-million dollar summer blockbuster movies, the average movie now is only 2:09.
Of course it’s understood that there is no set time in MMA – a fight can 15 or 25 minutes or it can be over 45 seconds. But there has to be a solution out there. It’s become a mission of mine to find it.
Explain to me why when going to an MMA event, we’re asking our fans to be there in most cases nearly four hours? It’s ridiculous.
No wonder the fans are drained by the end of the night. I am too because I’ve been in the arena when the doors open, watched the fights, done the post-fight press conference, and it’s nearly midnight! And that’s run on the MFC’s watch – we have a maximum three-hour window on TV and we need to be wrapped up. Yet still, with a good undercard and a full slate of live televised fights, we’re asking our loyal fans to be in their seats for at least four hours.
And that’s not including the time it takes to come home from work, get ready to go, drive to the venue, grab a beer and get to your seat, and then at the end of the night make the drive home. We’re talking at least another hour there.
I have heard directly from people who have attended other shows and the main event hasn’t started by 12:30 a.m.! I can only imagine what the fans are saying to themselves. No wait, I don’t have to imagine. I’ve been at a show and literally heard 20 fans come up to the promoter and ask “Is this the last fight?”
And they weren’t doing it anticipating a specific fighter to come out. They were asking because they were ready to call it a night ... an hour ago!
As the owner of a show, I have to give my fans’ their money’s worth. But I want to keep them intrigued the whole night through, not have them run out of steam – and interest – with three fights left on the card.
So the onus falls on me to provide the best show possible. There’s a fine line to walk here, too. I can’t just make the night shorter with a lineup of five fights, and at the same time, I don’t want the people in the seats to be checking their watches every 10 minutes thinking they better get home before the babysitter falls asleep.
This is not about the die-hard MMA fans. I know you and I love you – you are the backbone of the sport and the fanbase. Like you, I would watch fights for hours. But we’re not the only ones out there.
The MFC and mixed martial arts as a whole has become mainstream. Those mainstream fans of sports are now coming to MMA which we’ve always loved, but they grew up on hockey, baseball, and football. They are used to a two-and-a-half hour game and packing it in. They can’t and don’t want to be in an arena for four hours.
I will work on this project starting immediately at MFC 30. But I will need the help of the MFC’s best commodity – its fighters. Why? Here’s a perfect case study. Want to know who some of the MFC’s most popular fighters are? It’s not necessarily the most talented guys on the roster. It’s guys like Dwayne Lewis, Drew Fickett, Pete Spratt, Dhiego Lima, Curtis Demarce ... and fighters of that certain style because they bring action. They look to finish fights, and if they can’t do it inside 15 minutes, at least nobody feels like they’ve just watched wallpaper dry. It’s all-out intensity.
In order to make it a better night for fans, I’ll keep bringing you these fighters. The ones who make you start counting ceiling tiles won’t be around for long.
You will see at MFC 30 and beyond that the Maximum Fighting Championship will do everything it can to tighten the show up, make it fast-paced from top to bottom, and fit an amazing experience into a timeframe that is fan-friendly.
The four-hour long epic Bible study is over. This isn’t cricket. We don’t stop halfway through for lunch and a spot of tea.
This is the fast-growing sport in the world. It should be fast-paced.
Surviving in this business is a marathon. The night of the show should be a sprint.
Yeah I said it!