Dana White is following in Vince McMahon's footsteps once again. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Vince McMahon's greatest achievement as a wrestling promoter was the creation of WrestleMania, an annual pay-per-view extravaganza held in late March or early April where WWE's hottest storylines are peaked and their biggest matches take place. With the right main event, like John Cena vs. The Rock this year, it now regularly bags over one million worldwide PPV customers and comes close to selling out 50,000+ seat stadiums. WrestleMania has become not just a show, it's a whole week of activities including their autograph signing event WrestleMania Axxess and their annual Hall Of Fame ceremony. Even independent promotions like Ring Of Honor and Dragon Gate USA have jumped on the bandwagon by holding some of their biggest shows of the year to coincide with the weekend, knowing that the most hardcore wrestling fans from around the world will be in town craving further live action.
So it should come as no surprise that Dana White would like to replicate that success with UFC's own version of WWE's WrestleMania. Of course, as Dave Meltzer reported in the June 25th Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WrestleMania is a dirty word with Zuffa management, but that's their inspiration to turn their annual early July PPV into a week long mixed martial arts festival:
What we've hinted at before has become a reality as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced 7/3 to 7/7 as International Fight Week. The authority came to UFC with the idea of creating an annual event for Las Vegas, with the idea of it being the biggest show of the year (or close), as something they could make an annual tradition. While nobody used the term, the idea would be to create the UFC version of WrestleMania week, but instead of it being in a different city each year, it would be in Las Vegas. Besides the card, and normal activities around the card, plus the Fan Expo, they are adding pool parties, and a concert.... This will now officially become the big show of the year, although it does not yet have a name, and held every year in early July.
In time, I'm sure an annual UFC Hall Of Fame ceremony will be added too. It should be noted that Las Vegas coming to UFC with this idea is also similar to how local authorities all over North America now lobby WWE to hold WrestleMania in their city, knowing that the event will bring in tens of millions of dollars of tourist revenue into their area.
The only surprise is that it took so long for UFC to implement this no-brainer concept. It should have been obvious after UFC 100 on July 11th 2009 drew a whopping 1.6 million buys on PPV thanks to a stacked card featuring Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves and Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir that building to an annual supershow on the same weekend would pay dividends at the box office. But it took them three years to attempt to recreate that magic. Unfortunately, as this year demonstrates, injuries out of UFC's control, made all the more likely with an ever expanding schedule, may scupper the best laid plans, but it's still something they should stick with, even though it can't be the guaranteed success that WrestleMania on paper should be every year.