'Dynamite!! USA' joint MMA event
This has undoubtedly been a momentous week with the announcement Tuesday of the merger of elite MMA leagues UFC and PRIDE under the ownership of the Fertitta brothers. What may have gone unnoticed was the announcement the same day by Pro Elite Inc. (parent company of EliteXC), FEG (parent company of K-1), and Showtime TV that they are holding a joint event on June 2 at the 92,000-seat L.A. Coliseum.
This ambitious joint event, dubbed "Dynamite!! USA", will feature a fight between 7-foot-2 South Korean Hong Man Choi -- a K-1 Asia champion -- and Brock Lesnar, a former NCAA and WWE wrestler. In addition to these fighters, other announced fighters include aging MMA legend Royce Gracie and ex-pro football player Johnnie Morton as well as Jake Shields, Antonio Silva and Gina Carano.
According to a press release, the event will have three fights televised on Showtime from 9 p.m. EST until 10 p.m. EST. At 10 p.m. EST, the coverage will switch to Showtime pay-per-view for up to six more fights.
With PRIDE and UFC under the same ownership group now, I think the only logical conclusion to draw is that the second-tier leagues will have to work together to be successful. I believe this event in LA will be the first of many joint events among these and other leagues.
And, it appears these other leagues may already be entering into more long-term, formal agreements to help offset the the UFC-PRIDE alliance. According to Ken Pishna of MMAWeekly.com, there is already an "others" alliance (my term) forming between K-1, Cage Rage (Europe's oldest MMA league), Pro Elite, BodogFight, Strikeforce, and SpiritMC (South Korea's biggest MMA league).
It will be very interesting to see how these alliances play out and what effect they have on the sport, both from a business standpoint and from the perspective of the fighters and the fans. The "others" alliance consists of some formidable leagues located strategically throughout this country and the world, with some TV deals already in place, so I wouldn't count this alliance out. However, with UFC and PRIDE clearly the most recognizable names in the industry and home to the best stable of fighters, I wonder what the "others" alliance will do to put on appealing fight cards and attract fans to their events.
The June 2 event at the LA Coliseum will be the first test for the "others" and should provide a strong indication as to whether there is room in the world of MMA for two competing global alliances.