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Does Bisping-Evans Deserve to Be the Main Event for UFC 78?

Michael Bisping and Rashad Evans will square off on Nov. 17 as the main event of UFC 78 in New Jersey, the organization announced yesterday. This news made me glad that I didn’t decide to buy tickets to this event, even though it’s the closest the UFC has come to New York City since I’ve lived here.

First of all, the event is in Newark, which is probably the worst city in America. It combines the squalor of a heavily industrialized town with the rampant crime and violence of an economically depressed one, making for one giant cesspool of unpleasantness.

Second, Bisping-Evans doesn’t seem like a main event. Not for a big time pay-per-view, anyway. If this were a UFC Fight Night or some other free TV broadcast, I wouldn’t complain. But if you want my $39.95 you have to give me a real main event, and some other bouts that are better than the likes of Hector Lombard vs. Karo Parysian wouldn’t hurt either.

For the purposes of this discussion, it may be helpful to determine what makes a fight a main event. Contrary to what the UFC seems to believe, there’s more to it than just calling it one. As far as I’m concerned, a main event has to meet at least one of three criteria:

1) A championship title is at stake

2) If no title is at stake, it should be a fight to determine number one contender status

3) It is a grudge match of some kind with special personal significance for both fighters

Granted, I’m sure I could think of some exceptions if I really tried hard enough, but I think those criteria are pretty fair. If it isn’t a title fight and it isn’t a fight to see who gets the next title fight, I have to ask why it deserves to be the headlining bout. If it’s because both guys hate each other or have something to prove against one another (a rematch maybe, if the first meeting was great) then I’m all for it.

But Bisping-Evans doesn’t meet any of those definitions. Bisping is coming off a lackluster win with his questionable decision over Matt Hamill. Evans is coming off a fairly exciting draw with Tito Ortiz. It makes sense to have both Bisping and Evans on this card, but why against each other?

This brings up a possible fourth criteria for a main event: if you can’t provide quality, settle for quantity.

I’d be perfectly fine with this card if both Bisping-Hamill II and Evans-Ortiz II were on it, perhaps as co-main events. That way, when I consider whether to spend my money on the pay-per-view (or whether to actually get out in the world on Saturday night), I’m comforted by the thought that with two potentially big rematches on the card, at least one of them will probably deliver.

Plus, you have to wonder why Evans isn’t matched with Ortiz here, and if maybe it has something to do with the UFC holding Ortiz out so they can put him against Wanderlei Silva (in place of Chuck Liddell) in December.

What concerns me most about the UFC simply labeling Bisping-Evans as the main event (which is what they did, after they announced the match would take place) is that it seems a little lazy, as if they’re taking me and my pay-per-view cash for granted.

One of the good things about the rise of so many other MMA promotions is that the competition for viewers should bring better events. But right now the UFC knows they’re the biggest show in town, and they might be starting to feel like whatever they put out there will sell.

As much as people are complaining about the UFC 77 lineup (which I think is pretty solid), at least there’s a title fight. Maybe one of the reasons there isn’t one for UFC 78 is because the welterweight title has been languishing in reality TV land instead of being up for grabs in the open market.

I’m not saying I can’t understand this decision. Every card can’t have the fight of the decade, and that’s fine. But I’m also not saying that I’m automatically going to pay to see a fight just because the UFC tells me it’s a main event. Sorry.

I’m also not going to stick around on Spike TV and watch Manswers just because it comes on after The Ultimate Fighter, but that’s a topic for another day. A very sad day, which most likely ends with me in tears, waiting hopefully for the apocalypse.

Ben Fowlkes is the editor of the IFL’s official website and is a special contributor to CBSSports.com. He also maintains his own blog, The Fighting Life.

35 COMMENTS
  • paddiosf says:

    Main Event maybe a UFN!

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  • phyteguru says:

    I think you’re pretty much spot on Sam, they don’t deserve main event. I *heard* but can’t confirm that Tito vs Evans is not happening because Tito is going to be fighting Dan Henderson…

    Find out soon enough I guess.

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  • Tanner says:

    Phyteguru – Ben Fowlkes wrote this article, not sam. Just an FYI.

    And to answer the question of the title. No its not worthy of being a main event. For the first time i’m seriously considering not buying a UFC PPV. Atleast with UFC 72 you had a former champion.

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  • Sarah Aswell says:

    Yes. I like how I got the email this morning from the UFC hyping the event and their marketing line is: TWO TUF WINNERS FIGHT EACH OTHER FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. And sure, that’s interesting. But the premise of the show is that the fighters are young and up-and-coming. Like these two guys. As with any good headlining fight, I want to know: what’s at stake? A belt? Even better, a personal rivalry seeped in hatred? Revenge? Here, it doesn’t seem like anything.

    Maybe, like Ben said, if they were both fighting more exciting, well-established fighters, I would care more. As it stands, I’d rather Netflix some old fights and drink some beers in my living room. It will sure be cheaper than spending the $39.95

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  • steve24 says:

    Even if Tito were on the card, what has he done to deserve main event?

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  • Outergarage says:

    I believe this will be in Newark rather than the Meadowlands because it will be held at the brand new Prudential Center which was built for the NJ Devils.

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  • garth says:

    Sean Sherk’s roids put the UFC in this situation. This was supposed to be a lightweight title fight event. BJ vs. Sherk. Instead it’s a suckfest. I do have to admit that I’m glad Tito-Rashad 2 isn’t happening. I didn’t feel that the first one was exciting at all, and I’m surprised Rashad thinks he can beat Tito. I’m no fan of Tito’s but he Rashad may not be able to handle someone as big and strong as Tito at 205. and is Tito-Henderson a main event? I guess anytime Tito fights its a PPV bonanza.
    This card seems like it would have been a good place to find out who the #1 contender at middleweight is…if they had any damn middleweights. Terrell-Herman seems like they’re trying…but do either of those dudes seem like top-ten guys? Not to me.

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  • Evan says:

    Blame Sherk. Not the UFC.

    They had a main event sent months ago. Not their fault he blew it.

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  • Ben Fowlkes says:

    That’s a valid point, Evan. But does that mean they couldn’t come up with something else? And how long is the LW title going to stay in limbo while Sherk appeals? Personally, I’d love to see a good old-fashioned LW tournament (not one with multiple fights in one night for each guy, mind you) in order to settle it.

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  • xx2000xx says:

    I disagree 100%. 78 is a much, much better card then 77. Sure it doesn’t have a great main event, but I think it’s silly to buy a card for one fight. That is what boxing has done forever now. Book a solid main event and then put scrubs on the undercard.

    77 is so weak that these 2 fights are on the televised portion of the card:
    -Kalib Starnes vs. Alan Belcher
    -Eric Schafer vs. Stephan Bonnar

    While 78 has tons of competitive matches and the non-televised fights are actually better then the televised fights for 77.
    -Thiago Alves vs. Ryo Chonan
    -Akihiro Gono vs. Tamdan McCrory (too bad we probably won’t see Gono’s entrance)
    -Joe Lauzon vs. Jason Reinhardt

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  • Evan says:

    Bean

    Well who exactly? I don’t know who could fill the slot that would be much better.

    Most title fights are set for later dates (unofficial granted) or the fighters are injured.

    From what I understand Tito has one fight left on his contract so maybe this was a contract issue.

    And isn’t Hamill hurt?

    This is one draw back of the UFC planning things so far out. But how often will a card such as this happen? You can plan fights ahead but you can’t plan for your champion’s failing tests and getting hurt.

    And Sherk still has his appeal date set. So they can’t strip him yet.

    But hey…I am all about a LW tourney like the IFL is doing. I love that.

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  • Evan says:

    Ben….not Bean..

    Sorry, no disrespect intended.

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  • dizzle says:

    I figured out the name of the show.

    “UFC 78: BOREFEST”

    This is going to be yet again..another boring card fight. im so sick and tired of seeing the same old fighters over and over again. UFC is gettinga little rediculous with showing the sme fighters every show. I’ll probably end up not watching this event and probaly watch fuckin TNA Impact…where atleast I know I’ll be amused.

    if doug evan fights at UFC 78…I’LL BE THERE!

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  • BearTap says:

    Yeah, Newark sucks, so does this card. Rashad and Bisping weren’t really impressive in their last fights (neither were their opponents IMHO), so the UFC has decided to give the main event status? I realize this is a new arena and they’re trying to establish some East Coast live events, but man, this is brutal. Like Tanner said, I’m seriously just going to walk away from this one and catch it when it makes it Unleashed a month later. I would have preferred seeing Vera vs Sylvia to get some Heavyweight contention sorted out, but they’re already busy.

    With regards to criteria for a main event, I think you’re spot on Ben. Meet any one of those and I’m buying. No doubt there will be some good fights on the card, just not worth my $$. Why couldn’t they have some dudes throw down that have some serious hate on for each other? Like Koschek thinks he’s the real deal (though he’s not), he talks shit, he can make anyone who doesn’t already hate him, hate him even more.

    I’d rather see Huerta vs Guida as a co-main event. Lots of title ramifications. Those dudes both throw serious leather, scramble and grapple like pros. Make it a high octane event, share it with Bisping and Evans, at least then I would buy.

    Cept I get to see them for free, guess life ain’t all that bad. :D

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  • Jeremy says:

    I see on UFC.com that the Terrell listed to fight Ed Herman is not the current UFC fighter David Terrell but Dave Terrel who’s been fighting in the WEC. Certainly disappointing.

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  • xx2000xx says:

    Jeremy: check it again. Under events/ufc 78 it’s Terrell, even with a pic of him.

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  • jeff26 says:

    main event is kinda weak but I think it will be an exciting match up. This card is looking good way better than 76 in my opinion. I’ll be watching.

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  • RoB says:

    explains why they are really pushing that three ppv package on direct tv subscribers, so glad i didn’t fall for ir

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  • Bunk says:

    Newark is not the worst city in New Jersey, CAMDEN is by far worst.

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  • gipper says:

    BENNY- and the rest of you who don’t think this is a worthy ppv. you guys don’t have a clue or your just not a true mma fan. all i have to say is look at the quality of the fights…. 5 top notch fights with 10 great fighters. wait untill 78 in done then decide whether to bitch.

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  • Ben Fowlkes says:

    Thanks, Gipper, but I think I’ll go ahead and bitch now. Let’s not start the “you’re not a true MMA fan” ad hominem arguments, either. Pointing out that this event lacks a real main event doesn’t mean I’ve given up on MMA. It just means I’m using my brain and not swallowing whatever I’m fed.

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  • dizzle says:

    I’m with Ben on this. If we weren’t true MMA fans then I’m sure we wouldn’t waste our time posting comments on this blog. The fight cards will be exciting no doubt…but remember bisping vs. Hamill was the same concept for this main event. 2 TUF contenders duke it out to see who is really the best…WELL THIS IS THE SAME CONCEPT / IDEA.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Bunk is 100% correct.

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  • Anton K says:

    One thing’s for sure, Bisping and Evans are going to have to PROVE they can headline an event. By that I mean they are going to have to bring it and bring it hard. If their fight turns out be an indecisive snorefest then their value as fighters will plummet.

    Sam, how will the winner of this fight figure into the rankings/title contention?

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  • Anton K says:

    If Bisping wins, what happens next for him? Would he actually take a risky step back and fight Hammill again? Doubtful? What would be the point?

    I can’t really see the point of this match from a business sense? I think the UFC made a mistake– not as serious as Liddell v Jardine, but a mistake nonetheless.

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  • hankd says:

    Definitely not main event worthy, but I like the card overall…it’s a deep card. Terrell vs Herman on the undercard? That’s a sign that it’s deep. Lots of matchups I want to see, just not Bisping-Evans as the main…

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  • Mo Dogg says:

    I made the mistake of joining the Fight Club from the UFC website for the sole purpose of getting good tickets for this event. Me and some buddies figured the UFC won’t be back here again for sometime, so let’s get tickets while we can. We’re still hoping Dana pulls some rabbit out of his hat for this one.

    I am confused at why the lightweight belt is not up for grabs here. I thought Sherk’s appeal was in a few weeks, and the idea would be if he won he would have to fight BJ Penn at 78, and if he lost his appeal, BJ would fight Joe Stevenson for the vacant belt. what has changed with this?

    A possible reason for Bisping and Evans fighting as a top event on the card could be because Dana wants the winner to take on Rampage as a filler match, while Dana and Joe Silva sort out what they want to do with Forrest, Jardine, Chuck, Wandy, and Shogun. Maybe Dana wants more TUF alum to take on the Pride acquisitions. Well, we will hope Dana comes through with something else because he should try and rekindle a fan base here on the east coast.

    And in my opinion, Newark is not even the worst city in the state of NJ. Trenton is a mess and good ‘ol Camden comes close to taking the cake. But in my travels, Asbury Park could very well be the armpit of America.

    Sam, I know you are a loyal Philadelphia area guy. Is there any chance Dana will try to book an event closer to, or even in, Philly. We’re not trying to be greedy, just wondering what has to happen before Dana would host an event in the Philadelphia area?

    thanks

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  • Jeremy says:

    XX2000XX, yeah I see it now. They must have changed the profile there once they realized they had the wrong David Terrell on there. Earlier they had a pic and everything of Dave Terrel. Glad it’s the right one now because it’s a much more interesting fight now then it would have been.

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  • FJ` says:

    great article!

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  • Mezzaluna says:

    I’m sure they wanted to put Evans vs. Ortiz but Tito is probably being a baby about signing the deal. Because thats who he is. And at this point what else are they going to do? They wanted to have the lightweight title fight but with Shrek’s steroid issues thats out the window. With his appeal not being til this month its out of the question to have bj vs joe stevenson because they wouldn’t have enough time to train. So what other Main Event caliber fight can they make? I think they are making the best from a bad situation. I doubt they want to put bisping vs evans right now but its the best fight they could make. The card actually looks pretty interesting and should be entertaining. It won’t be the best UFC ever, but it won’t be the worst either.

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  • [...] Luke Thomas does a good job of explaining why it sucks, and Sam Caplan lays out what should be the three unbreakable conditions for a UFC pay per view main [...]

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  • oj says:

    i concur.

    your criteria for a main event is on point. this is not a main event. i’m not saying it won’t be a good fight. it just shouldn’t headline a PPV.

    i do find it interesting that the UFC is putting two of their undefeated TUF winners up against each other with no real payoff. a win won’t put either of them in line for an immediate title shot with forrest, jardine, wanderlei and even shogun still in the mix.

    i don’t understand the logic after doing so much to build both of these guys up and tout their undefeated records. these guys are both fringe contenders. a loss like this will just push one of them further out of the running and not do much to propel the winner into the title picture.

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  • Gringo Loko says:

    No way! I have to agree with you.

    Bisbing is not that marketable here.

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  • Jeremy says:

    I see Hector Lombard is now off the card according to Sherdog. Apparently he can’t get a visa to enter the country. This card certainly is having no luck whatsoever.

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  • mcanena says:

    All of Bispings fights have been full on exciting,he deserves to be in a main event but not with Rashad,almost all of Rashads wins have come from lay n pray antics,anyone who wants him in the UFC and Bisping out needs hung and shot.
    SHUT UP!

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