Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A weekend without MMA might not be such a bad thing

In today’s world of mixed martial arts, it is commonplace to have some form of MMA to look forward to just about every week. If it isn’t a UFC pay-per-view, it’s a UFC Fight Night scheduled on Fox Sports or Fight Pass. On top of that, sometimes you have more MMA in the form of Bellator Fighting Championship or World Series of Fighting and when in season ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ television shows. 

Yet, as we move towards this weekend it is strange to see that there are no events taking place. That is because the one event that was scheduled originally for Saturday August 2, 2014, UFC 176 has been canceled. This was due to an injury to featherweight champion Jose Aldo during training, which postponed the main event championship fight with challenger Chad Mendes. Granted this was just one fight, but it was the headliner and with the event originally taking place at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, it was deserving of some much needed star power to carry it.

This brings me to the issue at hand. Has the UFC and (or) MMA in general gotten to a point where the sport is so saturated with events that under cards, which used to be so stacked they would be able to carry on without the main event, are now considered filler? I mean there was a time when it was easy to argue every fight on a UFC card, preliminary or not, meant something and was worth watching. Now I’m not so sure if you could argue that for every fight on the main card.    

Case in point; on the cancelled UFC 176 card the first two fights scheduled were a flyweight tilt between Jussier Formiga vs. Zach Makovsky and a women’s bantamweight fight between Shayna Bayszler and Bethe Correia. From a matchmaking standpoint, these fights made sense as the main card was going to give much needed shine to two divisions that really need it, the men’s flyweight (125 lbs.) and the women’s bantamweight (135 lbs.). However, try explaining that to the fan that is expected to pay anywhere between $49.95 and $59.95.

Even for a hardcore fan, that was a tough sell. Makovsky, a former Bellator champion, could be a rising star in the division after winning his first two fights in the UFC and riding a four fight winning streak; however Formiga on the other hand is a mere 2-2 in his first four and last UFC fights. As for the women, while Correia also looks like a potential star in the making at (8-0), Bayszler is pretty much a journeyman, for lack of a better term for women. She currently stands at (15-8), hasn’t fought in over a year and a half and couldn’t even get out of the first round in the first women’s season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Even the featured third bout on the main card was to be a clash between lightweights Gray Maynard and Fabricio Camoes; both of who are coming of two fight losing streaks. I remember a time when fights like these would not make the main card; some of them would not have made prelim status, as they would have been regulated to dark matches. However, that time has since come and gone.

As a hardcore MMA fan, I remember the days when I would have to wait for a UFC card once every three months. Of course at that time I would clamor for more and as I got it, I was happy. However now I have to honestly say, I’m not so sure? While the allure of watching fights has not subsided, I am growing weary of just okay cards versus the “Wow I can’t wait for that one” event. I understand with so many events nowadays, those are going to come far and few in between; but back when you had to wait for one, you knew that’s what it was going to be.

So now that MMA has gotten to a point where sometimes in a week you could actually find yourself watching fights on WednesdayFriday, sometimes twice on a Saturday and even Sunday, there is none to speak of this coming weekend. That said, it might not be such a bad thing; I mean as the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone.”   

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