Injuries happen, especially in contact sports. Well, to be honest, they happen in all sports, contact or not. The grind of training and performing at an exceptionally high level year round is something that the human body isn’t made to handle. Athletes have a higher tolerance for injuries due to being at peak physical condition through years (and sometimes decades) of constant training. Simply put, elite athletes tend to be elite humans. As such, they can push their bodies further for longer than you or I. However, that doesn’t stop them from being human. As such, they are bound to face the injury bug sooner or later. If their sport is a contact one, then the injury bug tends to come sooner. This is why the NFL sees more injuries than the NBA or MLB. It’s also why UFC and WWE athletes tend to constantly have some kind of injury their nursing.
For the purposes of this article, the UFC and WWE are both treated as contact sports. Whether you have some doubts over the validity of that statement, feel free to tell me after reading this piece but I want you to remember one thing, in professional wrestling the outcome may be predetermined however the chairs and floors that their backs are constantly driven into are not fake.
While injuries have recently had a very adverse effect on both the UFC and WWE, one promotion is looking at having to recover yet again from a hit on their reputation, while the other might actually see the start of yet another period of unexpected growth and prosperity.
There are similarities shared by the rosters of both promotions and significant differences. While UFC fighters perform, at most, 4 times in a year, WWE athletes perform over 250 times a year. Even though UFC fighters don’t perform as often, each of their fights includes an intense training camp that on average lasts 10 – 12 weeks. WWE athletes have to train almost daily while also performing their jobs in front of live crowds 3 to 4 times a week.
The rate at which WWE athletes have to train and perform, just like the intensity of the training camps and fights the UFC roster are subjected to, lead to a very high rate of injuries across each organization. However, while injuries are seemingly affecting both organizations negatively, it seems like in the long term, the WWE will benefit from their recent run of injuries while it looks like the UFC needs to improve several elements of how they do things. As such, we are going to look at the top 3 reasons why injuries might actually help one organization while hurting the other.
Reason number 1: Ability to adjust on the fly.
Both organization have a reputation for being able to adjust when the injury bug hits. But while the WWE rewrites a storyline puts the focus on another talent that we the fans are familiar with from seeing them on TV, the UFC can’t pivot quite so easily. They have rankings to consider, also approval of athletic commissions and fighters actually accepting fights on short notice. This makes their job that much harder, add to that the fact that we, as fight fans, must recognize who the new fighter is and believe that they are deserving of the fight they are being offered, and well, you can see how it can get tricky to change a fight and still have it feel as important as the original match was.
Reason number 2: Athletes performing injured.
Injuries are what this article is all about. However what we haven’t talked about is severity of injuries. While a sprained ankle can pull a fighter out of a bout in the UFC, in the WWE it might keep him off a match for a week, but not off TV. The UFC needs it’s athletes to be physically able to do their job,. Meanwhile for the WWE, being physically capable of having a match is only part of what they need from their athletes, not being able to have a match for a couple of weeks or even a month or two does not necessarily mean they have to be shelved or taken off TV.
Reason number 3: The show must go on.
As seen by recent events, if the wrong athlete goes down for the UFC, it can cancel an event (UFC 196 anyone?). Meanwhile in the WWE, if the wrong guy goes down, the next talent down on the roster hierarchy takes over the main event spotlight. Now, the UFC can handle replacing one fighter for another, but it can’t handle having to replace a second or third fighter in a row in the same division, and it definitely can’t just replace a champion. Here is where the WWE has a definitive edge on the UFC, because after the third athlete goes down, they start to give more prominent role to lower profile talent. If they lose their top 5 talents, they do what the UFC can’t. They go out and sign talent from other organizations.
Now, I know what you think, the UFC can go out and sign high level talent just like the WWE. If you think that, you’re right, they can. What they can’t do is take a talent from another promotion and make him or her an automatic top level talent in the fans eyes. That’s why the WWE has the edge on this end. The WWE has what’s commonly called the IWC on it’s side, the Internet Wrestling Community. Even better, a lot of its fan base is part of this community and as such has the ability to give automatic credibility to an athlete coming in from another organization. That’s the difference between MMA and professional wrestling. In MMA, no matter how long you’ve been at it, if you haven’t fought in the UFC, you are unlikely to be considered as someone who has faced the best the world has to offer. But in wrestling, it’s more about the years you’ve been at it than it is about the competition you’ve faced. Because of this, wrestlers that have traveled the world and fought for multiple organizations are considered elite despite never having worked for the WWE, not the case in the UFC.
This is why the WWE is looking at possibly heading into its next (and possibly most profitable) era. In this case, the rash of injuries that the WWE has faced recently has forced its hand into going outside of its comfort zone and signing some of the best international talent available. Something it would have been hesitant to do previously as the WWE has a proud history of “creating” its own stars for the most part and is not usually in need of signing outside talent to automatically become part of its main event picture.
I’m not a fan of having the biggest superstars in the WWE out due to injury, however in this case it has led them to do what they used to do when a big competitor seemed to be getting the best of them, they’re pivoting and actually getting somewhat creative. That’s a win-win for all of us fans.
Check out this infographic and tell us in the comments what side you’re on.