(“Thanks Jay. Joining me now backstage is none other than…uh…wait a minute. You’re Anderson Silva’s son, right?”)
If you’ve been watching the NFL playoffs on FOX over the last couple weekends, you’ve surely noticed the frequent UFC promos throughout the broadcasts hyping a “World Title Fight” on January 26th between “Johnson and Dodson.” At no point is the word “flyweight” ever mentioned — because that would be a turnoff to casual fans, I guess? — and in most of the live promos I’ve seen, Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson‘s first names aren’t even included. Basically, they’re hoping that the mere promise of a “title fight” will be enough to lure some football fans into tuning in this Saturday night, even if those viewers have no idea who the headliners are, or what belt they’ll be fighting for specifically.
By sticking to the ironclad rule that a title fight will always get headlining-priority no matter who else is fighting on the card — a policy that previously drew some fan-criticism when Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche was given the UFC 157 main event spot over Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida — the UFC has painted themselves into a corner. Johnson and Dodson simply aren’t as well-known, marketable, or admired as some of the other fighters competing at UFC on FOX 6, namely Quinton Jackson, Donald Cerrone, and Anthony Pettis.
It’s a problem, because TV ratings and buyrates are so closely tied to who’s headlining each event. Instead of perhaps making Rampage vs. Teixeira or Cerrone vs. Pettis the headliner, the UFC is choosing to keep things vague (“world title fight!” “Johnson!”) and hope for the best. We’ll see if that proves to be the right decision, or if the ratings will plunge compared to the strong showing of UFC on FOX 5. I know the UFC wants to pump up its budding flyweight division, but I can’t help wondering if they’re doing themselves a disservice when there’s so little heat around that weight class. Could they re-consider their “championship fight always gets the main event” policy down the road?
Since I’ve been thinking about this lately, I’ve decided to present my own rundown of which fights I’m actually looking forward to this weekend. If you see things differently, please hurl some abuse at me in the comments section. Let’s begin…