Between the cancellation of UFC 151, controversial decisions, and Steven Seagal still being associated with UFC fighters, it has been quite the negative past couple of weeks for the UFC. The downward trend has brought out quite a few modern Mayans who are predicting the doom and gloom of the top Mixed Martial Arts organization in the world. But fear not, because if there is one thing that I have learned about the UFC, it is that one spectacular event will make the negativity of the past evaporate, and thankfully, we are only a few weeks away from UFC 152.
Thanks to the addition of the Light Heavyweight Championship fight between Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort, UFC 152 is absolutely stacked. Up and down, the card is filled with bouts that not only are relevant but look entertaining as hell on paper.
Although Vitor isn't a huge draw, I suspect that the PPV will do reasonably well buy-rate due to the extend amount of time between this show and UFC 149, and the fact that a lot of people want to see Jon Jones lose. With so many eyeballs likely checking the event, there are a lot of outcomes that I'm sure the UFC would like both short-term and long-term from a business perspective.
Obviously, Dana White and Co. would never talk about which fighters they desire to win because of the obvious conflict of interest, but based on the fact that I am under the payroll of no one, I have no probably talking about it.
Starting with the under-card, I'll talk about which outcomes I believe would be the best for the UFC from a business perspective.
WW Bout - Kyle Noke vs Charlie Brenneman
I was surprised to see this fight on the Facebook prelims. This is one awesome fight. Although Brenneman has a bit of a look to him and a personality, the most favorable outcome for the UFC would be for the Kyle Noke to win. A major reason why I believe Noke winning would better the UFC is because he is an Australian fighter, and he could add depth and potentially be a draw on the upcoming Australia cards if he piles together a couple of wins.
BW Bout - Mitch Gagnon vs Walel Watson
Contrary to the Noke/Brenneman fight, this bout really does nothing for me. Watson is probably a tad bit more marketable as his losses in the UFC were in decision fashion against tough scrappers like TJ Dillashaw and Yves Jabouin while Mitch Gagnon's lone fight in the UFC saw him get submitted by Brian Caraway.
WW Bout - Simeon Thoresen vs Seth Baczynski
Baczynski is riding a five fight win streak, but this one is a no brainer for Thoreson. Diversity is a positive, and a win for Thoreson, a Norwegian, would be good for the international aspect of the UFC.
FW Bout - Jimy Hettes vs Marcus Brimage
Jimy Hettes is an absolute stud prospect, and people love to get on the hype train of a fighter before he "breaks through". The probability of Hettes becoming a top featherweight in the future is fairly high, so it would be a huge positive if he begins to garner a following with an impressive and flashy victory on FX.
WW Bout - Sean Pierson vs Lance Benoist
Sean Pierson's Age: 36
Lance Benoist's Age: 24
Age is a vital factor here. Long term, Benoist winning would be the best possible outcome.
LW Bout - TJ Grant vs Evan Dunham
Both of these fighters are relatively entertaining -- especially Dunham, and what the UFC really needs out of them is to deliver a phenomenal fight that on TV that will entice people to check out some more action and watch the PPV. As far as who I think should win, I'd say Dunham who is fighter with a lot of talent that has flown under the radar after back-to-back losses to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard
LHW Bout - Vinny Magalhaes vs Igor Pokrajac
At 28 years of age, Vinny Magalhaes could add some depth to a light heavyweight division that is filled with fighters that have losses against Jon Jones on the record. The best possible situation for the UFC is for Magalhaes to channel Royce Gracie and look like a phenom by submitting Igor Pokrajac early with an unorthodox hold.
Main Card (PPV)
FW Bout - Charles Oliveira vs Cub Swanson
Another no-brainer here. Charles Oliveira is the up-and-coming, exciting star while Cub Swanson is the grizzled veteran. Oliveira has looked like dynamite since moving down to the featherweight division, and if he continues to do so he could add depth to the top tier of the featherweight class.
LHW Bout - Matt Hamill vs Vladimir Matyushenko
There really isn't any long-term benefits from either fighter getting their hand raised, but Hamill winning after "retiring" would provide the best story that could garner some headlines. As long as this fight isn't terrible, I would consider it a positive.
MW Bout - Michael Bisping vs Brian Stann
Both fighters are great on the microphone and have followings, but Bisping is the much more marketable fighter of the two. No matter if you love him or hate him, you do have an opinion about Bisping, and that's all that really matters. It would also be better if Bisping won in dominant fashion as it would set him up for a potential shot against the Middleweight Champion, a fight that should do a decent PPV buy-rate.
FLW Championship Bout - Joseph Benavidez vs Demetrious Johnson
In all honesty, the fate of the flyweight division will be on the line when both of these men step in the octagon. A lackluster fight will cast a negative tone over the weight class, but a blockbuster spectacle would make the flyweights seem special. Johnson has more of a personality, so him becoming the champion would be a positive. But really at that matters about this fight, is it's quality.
LHW Championship Bout - Jon Jones vs Vitor Belfort
The best possible outcome for the UFC in this fight is if Vitor Belfort knocks out Jon Jones in the early seconds of the bout. Seriously. Not only would Belfort, a massive underdog, beating the champion create headlines around the sports globe, but it would constitute a re-match that would probably end up being one of the best buy-rates of the year. As long as Jones rebounds with a dominant victory and multiple dominant defenses, I don't think his legacy would take a hit at all. Don't think so? Take a look at George St. Pierre.
So there you have at. Those are the outcomes that I believe would be the best for the UFC from a business perspective. Based on the fact that I'd be lucky to pick all five fights on the main card correctly, I can guarantee not even a quarter of this will actually happen, but if it did, well, it would be a good day for the UFC. A good day, something that has become a rarity for the UFC as of late.