Yeah, yeah, Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson is one of the greatest UFC main events of the year, and we all came buckets this morning when we watched the promo. These are incontrovertible facts — especially the part about the buckets.
But allow me to be a hater for just a moment, because it’s becoming clear that the UFC has lost an aspect of its promotional DNA that used to set it apart from boxing — namely, its habit of stacking each card with multiple fights and stars that fans were excited about. Here’s what UFC president Dana White told CNBC two years ago:
“If you buy tickets and you fly to Las Vegas, I guarantee you’re going to see the best live sporting event ever. And if you buy it on Pay Per View, I promise you, you’re going to get a night of great fights. And the other thing that we do is, in boxing, they’ll only give you one main event. Nobody even shows up for the early fights. We stack a card with tons of great fights because I can’t, for me to sit here, I’d be a liar if I said, I’m guaranteeing you every fight’s going to be the best fight you’ve ever seen I can’t guarantee you that. But I can guarantee you, there’s going to be two, three or four that are going to blow you out of, you know, you’re going to be blown away. We stack the card big enough so that you’re definitely going to get your money’s worth.”
Since that interview, the UFC has inked a set of new broadcast partners, added three weight classes, and returned to certain international markets (i.e., Brazil, Japan), all of which has led them to increase their card-frequency to the point that some events are now completely non-essential, and others are only compelling for their main events. Those incredible “stacked cards” that we used to enjoy in 2008 and 2009 have officially gone extinct.
Which brings us to UFC 151: Jones vs. Henderson (September 1st, Las Vegas). You probably know where this is going…
Here’s the current lineup, followed by some more incontrovertible facts.
- UFC 151′s pay-per-view broadcast is led off by John Lineker vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani — the guys shown at the top of this post, FYI — two flyweights who are both 0-1 in the UFC. Maybe it’s an exaggeration to say that “no one cares about little flyweights,” but certainly, nobody cares about these particular little flyweights. The fact that the UFC would include this match on the PPV lineup is proof that over-saturation has reached its tipping point in the UFC; nothing else really needs to be said.
- Outside of Jones and Henderson, there’s nobody on this card who you could legitimately call a “star.” If Josh Koscheck didn’t get injured, there would be three big names on the main card instead of two, but that’s still a weak offering for a PPV lineup. As it stands, UFC 151 is the epitome of the “one-fight card” common to boxing events, where only the headlining match is worth getting excited for.
- The default co-main event of Jake Ellenberger vs. Jay Hieron pits a guy who lost his last UFC fight against a guy who has never won a UFC fight. If you’re a big fan of Dennis Siver, Dennis Hallman, Eddie Yagin, or Thiago Tavares, I’ve got no quarrel with you. The rest of you should ask yourselves — are those fights really worth paying for?
I’ve heard a lot of complaints from MMA fans lately about how the UFC is forcing them to shell out $55 seemingly every other weekend to buy increasingly watered-down PPV cards. But the truth is, the UFC isn’t forcing you do anything. Being an MMA fan can be an expensive hobby, but as a consumer, you always have the power to say no. The bottom line is, the UFC can get away with selling these one-fight events because the fans have played along. So if you feel like you’re getting screwed, don’t order the events. That will send the only message that matters.