After going through a period of negative news that included Randy Couture’s resignation along with a potential deal with HBO falling through, the UFC has rebounded nicely with a string of positive announcements.
First, it was the signing of Brock Lesnar, which is a move that has the potential to pay huge dividends for the UFC from a mainstream perspective.
Soon after that they made hardcore fans very happy by overlooking recent results and signing a long-awaited dream match between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva for UFC 79.
Now comes an official report on UFC.com announcing the addition of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou to the promotion’s roster of contracted fighters along with his debut at UFC 79 on Dec. 29 against Ryoto Machida.
The UFC has been riding a huge wave of momentum but there was reason to believe that their growth could slow for the first time in recent memory. The company has benefited greatly from the introduction of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV concept but the promotion’s biggest revenue producer is pay-per-view. When it comes to PPV, Couture, Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and even Matt Hughes are the company’s most recognizable stars and biggest draws. Unfortunately, the long-term future of all four stars are uncertain. It’s unknown when or if Couture will ever fight under the company’s banner; Liddell is 37 and coming off back-to-back losses; Ortiz is 32 but has a lot of tread on his body and his fighting style is somewhat dated; and Hughes has expressed a personal belief that he only has 2-3 fights left in him.
In short, there was a brief period where a strong case could be made that the UFC’s long-term future was somewhat cloudy because it wasn’t apparent who could step in and replace the likes of Couture, Liddell, Ortiz, and Hughes. However, following the signing of Sokoudjou, one of the hottest young commodities in the fight game, it’s apparent that the UFC definitely has a nice young tier of talent that has the potential to evolve into top drawing cards.