It was guaranteed to happen. As soon as the early rumblings of a proposed UFC event in the UK is made, there’s usually a significant fan and media backlash on the strength of the card. It either lacks in marquee name power, has a fading star main event in an insignificant match up, or is missing the ever elusive UK based title fight. UFC 75’s Henderson vs Jackson and UFC 80’s Penn vs Stevenson were the good ol’ days of the UFC’s short history in its foray into the UK market.
Despite the continual complaints the UFC has been fortunate that UK cards have had a tendency to deliver with scrappy performances from over achievers who are hungry to take their careers to the next level. Unfortunately in the fight business you can never guarantee a card will deliver, and selling a product on ‘potential’ rather than ‘name value’ is a risky strategy no matter what the business.
Bisping vs Akiyama might be taking expectations of the UK fans’ willingness to attend a home-based live event a step too far.
It’ll be interesting to see how UFC President Dana White and UK UFC’s Commander In Chief Marshall Zelaznik spin this. Maybe we’ll be promised a headline fight has yet to be finalised for this card, but the prospect of selling a main event featuring a fighter that’s just lost to a late replacement journeyman, and a British fighter who is 2-2 in recent fights must be a daunting one, especially as neither fighter has had a UFC title between them thatmight make them worthy of top billing. A hypothetical fight like Rich Franklin vs Rampage Jackson would be far more suitable.
The rest of the rumoured and confirmed card is littered with the usual suspects of other British and European fighters trying to work their way up / back on to a ‘money’ card or making their UFC debut.
The card top to bottom might deliver an entertaining night of fights, but with ticket prices likely to reflect the average UFC’s American events (and not, say, one of its Ultimate Fight Nights) there’s not much to encourage a fan to spend their hard earned money on an expensive seat in addition to overpriced food and drink when getting a couple of packs of supermarket beer and nibbles, inviting some mates around and switching over to ESPN would seem far more tempting despite it lacking in the much heralded Live Experience a UFC event purports to offer.
Having been to UFC 75, the only thing that made the live experience (of skinheads fighting in the crowd while a restless majority that had been drinking since the mid-afternoon are just waiting for a slugfest to break them out of their alcohol induced slumber since the ‘Mixed’ element of the sport makes their snoring sound a lot like booing …) worthwhile was the fact there were actually fights I wanted to see on that card and was prepared to pay money to do so.
Call me an old geezer at 28 years old and counting, but the comfort of my own home is far more appealing this time around.