This article has been cross posted from Head Kick Legend. I thought the community over here might have worthwhile comments.
I was listening to the local Vancouver sports jocks on TEAM 1040 this morning, a couple of fellows by the names Matt Sekeres and Blake Price, and they took a minute out of their show to dump on this Saturday's UFC on FOX offering, describing it as "utterly boring and unwatchable". Price called Chael Sonnen's WWE style promo "an embarrassment" and they had a good laugh at a few tweets they had received suggesting that the UFC on FOX was more newsworthy sporting action than the NHL all-star game. (Talk about the pot calling the kettle black).
Vancouver is undoubtedly a one sport, one team, town (Hockey, the Vancouver Canucks) and a good portion of the sports media personalities working in the city often make a fool of themselves when pressed to provide anything but cookie cutter opinions on the rest of the sporting world. That being said I thought it was interesting to hear a take from those outside the "MMA bubble"; I have to say that despite their obvious lack of MMA knowledge, I agreed with their description of the event as boring. We all heard Joe Rogan describe Demian Maia and Chris Weidman as "two drunk guys outside a bar". For those familiar with the sport the action was better after that first misstep, but for a newbie, Sonnen/Bisping and Evans/Davis had little excitement.
The major mistake I think the UFC has made when it comes to their two FOX cards is that they are pushing their championships over exciting fights. For casual fans who don't really know what they are watching, the championships aren't important. If my first exposure to the sport left me yawning, why would I care who is the best? Even worse, if it was a boring championship fight that I was watching, why on earth would I ever watch it again?
Ben Henderson and Clay Guida was THE fight to put on FOX, according to most of the die-hards and the MMA media. Instead of their spectacular 15 minute whirlwind , we got Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez sullying the most prestigious title in the organization within a minute. For this card we were treated to Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans doing just enough to secure spots in championship matches of their own.
Sonnen appeals mostly to pro-wrestling fans who almost surely have already been exposed to MMA and either like it or don't. Those who think pro-wrestling is silly, (which is nearly everyone who doesn't think it's awesome) will likely think Chael is silly and they won't care whatsoever that he is great at tackling people and holding them there. If that was my first time watching MMA and I saw that fight and then saw that promo? I'd laugh my ass off. "He's calling it his Octagon? He barely even punched his opponent in the face!" Evans talked an awful lot before the fight, it seemed clear he was going to go out and knock Davis' block off. Of course, those familiar with the Evans/Jones saga can't really blame him for playing it safe but to the casual fan it must have seemed like like much ado over nothing.
So far the UFC fighters (strikers) that would appeal most to the mainstream have been nowhere to be seen, save for Junior Dos Santos, but his fight against Velasquez was too short and sweet for casuals not to dismiss Velasquez. Think about boxing, which is still the dominant combat sport out there. Even Mike Tyson, who was a known entity by the time he hit the big time, took a few rounds to dispatch of his foes. The heavyweight championship lasting just a minute is unheard of in boxing.
Now I completely understand that Dana White and Joe Silva want to use FOX to entice new fans to buy the pay per views but you can't just keep the most exciting fighters under lock and key unless someone pays $59.99 to see them. Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz are set to do battle at this weekend's UFC 143. I don't think anyone on the radio would be laughing today about "the single UFC fan who tweets the show" had the UFC flip flopped the main events.
Zuffa seems to have realized that they aren't putting enough firepower out there, booking Jim Miller against Nathan Diaz as one of the fights on the third FOX event. That fight, like Henderson/Guida, is just about as close as you can get to guaranteed fireworks. Here's hoping they find a way to get Nathan's brother Nick on the card, who is 100 times more exciting than Sonnen inside the ring and likely 10 times more interesting (to the casual fan) outside.
How do they say it? Third times a charm?
Let's hope so.