For years, the UFC has been on the forefront of the MMA world. Mostly because they were the first to do it. Despite the fact that the ownership has changed hands three times in the last 25 years, the UFC still maintain a strong presence in the MMA world.

I remember watching UFC 1 with my dad back in the day when they had Ken Shamrock vs Royce Grace in the final match for UFC 1. I also remember there was no weight classes, no gloves, and almost no rules. I believe the only rule was to stop when the ref told you to stop. It was so raw back then that even groin shot and hair pulling was allowed!

Since the birth of MMA, there have been small and large MMA brands all over the world to compete with the UFC brand. In Japan, they had PRIDE (UFC bought them out). I remember in Costa Rica, they had Sherdog MMA. Here in the Carolina, they have one called MMA Fight Lab. Even Donald Trump and Oscar De La Hoya had their hand in the pot at one point. They had a company called Affliction. (Eventually, they filed for chapter 11)

Not all of these companies were a complete fail because it was a platform for a lot of current and former fighters that are big today. Out of all the MMA companies out there, the only MMA brand who is also making a footprint as large as the UFC is BELLATOR MMA.

Bellator was founded in 2008 as merely as a $100,000 tournament. Since then, they have been putting on shows ever since., The company has change hands twice and the current owners are the global communication company, VIOCAM. Bellator may be far from the 4 billion dollar valuations that the UFC has, but are making great strides to getting there.

Here are three things BELLATOR MMA is doing well that could eventually be a threat to the UFC brand.

1) Recruiting talent:  BELLATOR MMA is aware that they do not have all the talent and marketable fighters like the UFC does, however, Bellator is doing their part in making sure to either recruit fighters after their UFC contract is over or in some rare cases, break the contract and just switch over. BELLATOR MMA is taking a page out of the playbook of the former wrestling company WCW. Back in 1997 thru 1999 when WCW went against WWF (known as WWE today) on their Monday night wars. WCW was able to collect the talent, the names and the popularity of those wrestlers to draw more fans to their events. As a result, the WWF was struggling and actually losing rating for the first time.

2) Open contracts: The Conor vs Floyd super fight almost did not happen; because the UFC did not want Conor to fight outside the organization. Randy Couture tried to do it with Fedor in 2008 and was forced to come back to UFC and defend his belt. Bellator allows their fighters to be active outside their company and has no problem with a fighter working with another promotion. for example, they have a few active professional boxers on the roster. When those boxers are not fighting for a Bellator, they are off fighting in different boxing matches. That's awesome!!! If you are a fighter or want to be one, you should know that the only time you get paid is when you fight. So, if you are healthy and able, take advantage!

3) Sponsorships:  it has almost been three years since the UFC and Reebok made an exclusive deal with the fighters to be the official uniform for the UFC fighters. Meaning, the UFC fighters are "Required" to wear Reebok gear when they are doing media workouts and on fight night, Since the deal, fighters have complained that they have lost money due to this deal. UFC fighters are not allowed to wear any other logo or brand other than Reebok. "Boo!!" As a result, Bellator is like, "where whatever you want and get sponsored with whomever you want." Bellator Is aware that fighters also need to make a living and when they are not fighting, they should find ways to make their own income.

These three points make it very easy for fighters to look at Bellator as a potential employer. The only thing that holds true for right now in the UFC is that they do have the majority of the best fighters on the planet under their banner. Because of that very important fact, the UFC still holds a powerful influence in the MMA world.

What do you guys think?

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