Three months ago, Sean McCorkle jerked the curtain in his UFC debut in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. On Saturday night, he'll fight in the co-main event of UFC 124, one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year, against a little-known, 22-year old, European heavyweight prospect.
This will go down as one of the worst co-main event of a UFC pay-per-view since Zuffa took control of the company, and certainly the worst of the year. McCorkle made his name fighting club fighters in Indianapolis's Legends of Fighting promotion. He fought Johnathan Ivey and Bobby Favors in the the two fights leading up to his shot in the UFC. Ivey and Favors, for the uninitiated, are two fighters who are physically incapable of returning to a vertical base if you put them on their back. McCorkle put them away without much effort as any in-shape, 300-pound specimen would have done.
After the overwhelming call from fans, the UFC signed McCorkle and scheduled him against Mark Hunt in the prelims at UFC 119. Mark Hunt, who hadn't fought MMA in 16 months. Mark Hunt, loser of his last 5 fights. Mark Hunt, fresh off being defeated by two men who are more comfortable fighting at 205 pounds (and lower). Mark Hunt, who managed a moral victory by showing up under the heavyweight limit. McCorkle quickly pulled guard, locked on a kimura grip, and tapped Mark Hunt in a straight armbar from guard within 65 seconds of the opening bell.
So now McCorkle finds himself in a co-main event with Stefan Struve on a card featuring the "most popular Canadian athlete ever" Georges St-Pierre. Struve, at 6'11" and 22 years of age, is an interesting prospect, but nobody knows who he is outside of being the really tall Dutch kid that Roy Nelson knocked out in 40 seconds.
When asked about what was going through his mind as he prepared to fight in the co-main event fresh off his UFC debut, McCorkle expressed sentiments that I share with him. "It is surreal for me," said McCorkle.
I'm willing to give the UFC slack for an underwhelming undercard. Like everyone else, I'm tuning in to watch Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck. But why, in one of their most promoted events of the year, would they leverage that fight with Stefan Struve and Sean McCorkle? Are they banking on Struve as a superstar? Is McCorkle a late-blooming diamond in the rough at 34 years old? Are they going to put on a hilarious song-and-dance routine after the fight?