Finally the stage is once again set for Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov to meet in the octagon, this time for the UFC lightweight championship.
We’re a few days out from the UFC’s second Fox broadcasted event. The UFC’s first offering on US network television was a one-fight teaser between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight title. That fight saw the belt change hands (waists?) in just over a minute.
This time around the UFC has opted for a three-pronged attack of Rashad Evans against Phil Davis, Chael Sonnen against Michael Bisping and Demian Maia versus Chris Weidman.
The UFC’s first Fox event was not a failure by any stretch of the imagination. It actually did quite well in terms of ratings. The main critique coming out of it though was that for forty or so minutes plus commercials of talking there was only actually sixty-four seconds of fighting.
That wasn’t the UFC’s intention of course. Few would have predicted Dos Santos would have floored the iron-chinned champion the way he did. That is both the beauty and the curse of MMA in that anything can happen at anytime.
You definitely couldn’t have called the fight boring but if it was your first time experiencing the sport you couldn’t call it very fulfilling either.
With the teaser event out of the way the UFC now has two hours to flex its muscles on primetime, and it has responded in kind with the three aforementioned fights.
2011 was not the best for the UFC injury-wise and as a result the timetables of their champions were staggered more towards the end of the year. This has meant that the UFC’s second showing on Fox doesn’t have the championship flavour of their first event but it nevertheless features two number one contender bouts in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions which is far from shabby.
But one has to wonder whether or not stylistically they will make the most Fox-friendly viewing.
The Evans versus Davis and Sonnen versus Bisping are incredibly relevant bouts divisionally but have all the likelihood of turning into ugly fights. Not ugly in terms of violence but more in terms of aesthetics.
While predicting MMA is a tightrope act, public wisdom suggests that Davis will consistently be looking and most definitely struggling for a takedown on Evans while the former champ picks apart his nubile striking.
Even if Davis is successful with his wrestling, he most likely won’t be able to TKO or submit Evans ending in a fairly repetitive 15 minutes.
In the Sonnen/Bisping fight I really can’t see anything Bisping has in his arsenal that will stop Sonnen constantly flooring him and Donkey Konging his head.
Then there’s the third bout which isn’t as easy to predict as Weidman is improving drastically with every outing but in recent times Maia has seemed to have lost that spark on the ground that made him so electric to watch.
There is of course the argument that the UFC should just serve the sport up warts and all and if the mainstream audience doesn’t take to it then they never were going to.
I can definitely see where that argument comes from but I think weaning the mainstream audience onto the sport through more fan-friendly fights is something that shouldn’t be ignored.
To me this card seems to have more risk than reward and is crying out for some unbridled fisticuffs to lead into the main event like a Bonnar versus Rampage fight or something of that ilk.
Like I mentioned earlier, MMA usually chews and spits out anyone who tries to predict it and I could very well be eating eggs or wiping crow off my face come Monday but if the card goes the way I think it goes then the UFC’s first two shows on Fox will have showcased two of the more frustrating parts of the sport to an impressionable and uninitiated audience.