Let me start off by saying I can be rough on the UFC. When I watch the company with the most talent and most experienced production staff, I may hold them to a bit higher standard than some newer less experienced companies. I will be the first person to complain about what I view as a crappy main event, and unlike many I will express my view well before I shell out my fifty dollars (and yes I will still shell out the money knowing I’m going to be unsatisfied.
Through various outlets ranging from television, to radio, to the web I keep hearing UFC 91 being described as a thin card. Many saying “If it wasn’t for Couture vs. Lesnar I wouldn’t be buying it.” Not being one to spend other people’s money, I say that is their prerogative. But the impression that this card is somehow thinner than others couldn’t be farther from the truth. What this card lacks is promotion value outside of the main event and fighters that the UFC have not invested any promotion into.
Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson is clearly a solid number two or three fight on pay per view. Both fighters bring it and leave it all in the cage every time out. Both are top lightweights, and both deserve much more press than they have received for this fight. Due to a lack of promotion this fight seems to be hype free, which in the fight business is just not acceptable.
The sad fact of the matter is, most fans are taught who to be excited over. The UFC hype machine is powerful, and has an ability to convince the average logical sports fan into believing Brandon Vera is talented enough to hold the light heavyweight or heavyweight title, or that Roger Huerta should be mentioned in the same breath as Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, Joe Stevenson or heaven forbid B.J. Penn.
I’m not hating the system, I’m just saying they need to spread the hype around a little. Invest some time in your up and coming stars. Get creative with matches and make them valuable to the viewer and the fighters
Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdan McCrory could easily be presented as a “fight to watch” in the events promotional materials. The new or less than rabid fan could easily have no idea that this fight could steal the show. The UFC needs to let people know this and tell them why. It’s not a tough sell as fight fans want to be excited about an event.
Why isn’t Demian Maia being pushed in the same way Roger Huerta was being pushed? Maia is clearly the brightest up and coming middleweight the UFC has. He is an exciting fighter to watch, and will more than likely find himself across the ring from Anderson Silva within the next 24 months. That fight becomes far more valuable if they start to build Maia now. What do they have to lose? This would totally prevent the “ Anderson Silva is fighting some guy this weekend, what was his name again” crowd from having a tough decision come purchasing time.
Now I can not and refuse to defend Gabriel Gonzaga Vs. Josh Hendricks being anywhere near television, for this I got nothing, But with the remaining 4 fights, chances very good that two will be very good and hardcore fans will wish they had a chance to view them.
UFC 91 and it’s under card appearing weak is the symptom of a larger issue. The UFC is doing a very poor job of creating name brand fighters and getting the general public to buy into them.
Perhaps it’s time for the “Harley Davidson middleweight invitational tournament” to be held over the next five pay-per-views. Eight fighters, single elimination with the winner fighting the champion or the number one contender. Use it to create value with your under card, make a match between Nate Quarry and Maia worth something to the viewer and worth more to the fighter. It pays for itself, none of the pesky production costs of reality television, and everyone is happy.
Over the last six months I can not recall the UFC providing me with less than the best mixed martial artists on the planet, and UFC 91 is no exception, where they are falling short is in match value. This card is not thin by a long shot, in my opinion it just lacks a destination for the winners of eight of the night’s nine fights.