UFC Fight Night 110 was this past weekend. I’ll do a quick rundown of it and then discuss the problems between UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson and the UFC.
UFC Fight Night 110
GOOD – Alexander Volkanovski vs. Mizuto Hirota: Volkanovski controlled the fight and was able to largely do what he wanted in route to the decision victory. He’ll probably get a top five featherweight in his next fight, but you never know with the UFC. Nice win for Volkanovski.
GOOD – Ben Nguyen submits Tim Elliott: Elliott got a takedown, but Nguyen rolled through it and locked in the choke for the quick victory. The whole fight took less than a minute. Impressive win for Nguyen, who’s quickly rising through the ranks at flyweight. He might find himself fighting a top five guy next as well.
GOOD – Ion Cutelaba stops Henrique da Silva: This took even less time, finishing in just over 20 seconds. Cutelaba caught him with a well-placed left hand and that ended things quickly. Cutelaba probably won’t face a top five guy next, but it depends on how the Light Heavyweight Division shakes out. This was a very impressive win for Cutelaba.
GOOD – Dan Hooker stops Ross Pearson: The first round was close, with Hooker working his reach advantage. He was hurting Pearson with legkicks, though. In the second round, things continued on until Pearson came in to try to get close, and Hooker dropped him with a powerful knee. It was a highlight reel finish that sent the New Zealand crowd into a frenzy. Nice win.
GOOD – Derek Brunson stops Daniel Kelly: Brunson hasn’t had a lot of success lately, but he showed off his formidable power here, dropping Kelly with a power shot and sending him facefirst into the mat. Big bounceback from Brunson here and tough loss for Kelly.
BAD – Mark Hunt stops Derrick Lewis: This fight wasn’t very good at all, largely due to cardio issues. Hunt was patient, but there were plenty of time where he didn’t need to be. Lewis would be putting his hands on his hips and gasping for air and Hunt would still be content to stand there and pick his shots. It was clear that Hunt was respecting the power of Lewis, which he should and is smart, but it gave the fight a feeling of inevitability. You knew Hunt would win, and you were hoping for a merciful finish, which we got late in the fourth round. Hunt scored a bounceback win of his own and the Lewis hype train derailed. In fact, Lewis said after the fight that this was probably his last fight because he’s getting married. You can never truly believe someone who’s just been through a draining camp and fight, so I’ll hold off on thinking he’s gone for good, but he’s got some work to do if he does decide to fight more. All in all, this was a good event, but the main event did drop it some.
DEMETRIOUS VS. UFC
Last week UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson wrote a long piece detailing his problems with UFC management and some of the bully tactics they’ve tried to employ on him. T.J. Dillashaw was scheduled to fight UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt, but Garbrandt pulled out with an injury. Dillashaw still wanted to fight so the UFC decided they wanted him to fight Johnson for the UFC Flyweight Title. Johnson doesn’t want to unless his agreements are met. He wants assurance that if Dillashaw misses weight, that Johnson still gets paid. And he was wanting extra money if that were to happen.
Sounds reasonable so far, Dillashaw has never fought at flyweight and is pretty lean for bantamweight (which enables him to have tremendous cardio). So there’s a definite chance that Dillashaw misses weight. Johnson’s next title defense will break the record he currently shares with Anderson Silva with ten straight defenses. This is a huge deal.
The UFC doesn’t want to pay fighters anymore than they have to. That’s understandable; they’re a business. However, if you want someone to do something they’d rather not do, you just give them a little bit of what they want. They don’t have to give Johnson everything on his list, but at least give him something.
Johnson also said that Dana White told him that if he (Johnson) didn’t fight Dillashaw that they’d get rid of the entire Flyweight Division. That’s so idiotic and petty that I can only imagine Dana said that in the heat of the moment. Lots of people have said stupid things in the heat of the moment that you don’t mean, and I would guess that’s the case here. I’ve said a lot of negative things about Dana White over the years, but I just can’t believe that he would say this and actually mean it. That’s such low-rent stuff that it calls into question his capability to run a McDonald’s franchise, let alone a billion dollar company. Also, this statement shines a light on just how poorly a job the UFC has done in terms of promoting their fighters. If you can’t manage to get a single person over in a whole division, there’s something seriously wrong with the way you do things.
Demetrious Johnson is one of the best fighters on the planet, and one of the best of all-time. Yeah, maybe he hasn’t done as much as he could have to make himself more popular, but the UFC deserves just as much blame as he does, if not more. Johnson says that the UFC has done a poor job of promoting him, and he’s right. The UFC does a poor job of promoting pretty much everyone. How many stars has the UFC created? Let’s look at some of their more popular fighters.
Conor McGregor? The UFC didn’t do anything to promote him, that’s all him. In fact, they were dragging their feet on him, not wanting him to fight for the lightweight title, or fight Nate Diaz the second time at 170lbs. And when they stripped him of the UFC Featherweight Title, they rushed it in as footnote as they scrambled to strengthen one of their infamous weak cards that was damaged by injury. Hell, they didn’t even let McGregor win the second title before talking about stripping him of one of the belts. That was a historic moment that they bungled.
Nick and Nate Diaz? The Diaz brothers are popular practically in spite of the UFC. To be fair, Nate got his start on The Ultimate Fighter, but he himself is largely responsible for his own popularity.
Ronda Rousey? You could argue that the UFC helped her become more popular, but Rousey was already well on her way to fame before entering the UFC. They helped, no doubt, but they’re not the main reason. I would argue that that time in society contributed just as much as the UFC did. They didn’t even want a women’s division originally.
Georges St. Pierre/Anderson Silva/Jon Jones? Silva and Jones made themselves with the way they fought and their dominance. GSP had the entire country of Canada rooting for him and was at least equally as dominant. Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, etc. are all guys who helped themselves more than the UFC did.
Even if you want to give the UFC credit for some or all of those names, what about the names that aren’t as popular as they should be? Jose Aldo is one of the best fighters to ever step into the cage. He went undefeated for years and years and fought the best his division had to offer. Renan Barao had a remarkable undefeated streak and was the UFC Bantamweight Champion for quite a while. Rafael dos Anjos was the UFC Lightweight Champion and had some dominating victories. I lump them all together because English isn’t their strong suit, but still, they should have been promoted a hell of a lot better. This is especially true for Aldo, who consistently had exciting fights and great moments.
What about UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway? He’s won 11 fights in a row and they’ve almost all been really exciting. Or maybe UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley? He’s capable of exciting fights and is well-spoken and well-reasoned on a variety of issues. Instead of promoting him, the UFC’s Twitter account posts up: “Remember when Nate Marquardt did THIS to the UFC Welterweight Champ!” with a video attached of when Marqaurdt beat Woodley years ago. What the hell is that? Who’s brilliant idea was that?
Why isn’t UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk a bigger star? She’s been dominating some very good fighters. Why isn’t UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic a bigger star? Aren’t the heavyweights supposed to be the big stars? Aren’t the ones all the casual fans want to see? Everybody wants to see the big guys, right? Then why did UFC 211 only do an estimated buyrate of 300,000? This is a card headline by Miocic fighting Junior Dos Santos (a rematch of a very exciting fight a few years ago) and Jedrzejczyk fighting Jessica Andrade.
It’s not just champions, either. Why isn’t Frankie Edgar a bigger star? Why isn’t Donald Cerrone a bigger star? Why isn’t Dominick Cruz a bigger star? Or T.J. Dillashaw himself? Why isn’t Gegard Mousasi a bigger star? I understand that there’s only so many fans out there willing to spend money on a pay-per-view card, but if you can get over 1.6 million people to watch Conor McGregor fight Nate Diaz, shouldn’t you be able to get more than 19 percent of those people to watch the Heavyweight Champion of the World? Especially one who’s an exciting fighter like Miocic is.
Or maybe the UFC just isn’t as good at promoting as they think they are?
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