As a writer for Bloody Elbow, there are two sides to my love of MMA - I have to balance my love of the sport with my responsibilities. For the most part this is fairly simple, since I'm almost always interested in what I have to cover anyway. But the last two weeks in April have been a little different for me. I've been on vacation, and it's been in places where I didn't have the ability to watch events. It killed me not getting to see UFC on Fox 7 because it was such a strong card and I was interested in just about every fight. But for UFC 159, I have the opposite problem - I can order the event if I want to here. But I won't. Because I still believe the main event is a complete joke.
When UFC president Dana White announced that Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen were going to coach The Ultimate Fighter and meet in the octagon for Jones' UFC light heavyweight title, I got mad. It's hard to believe it was six months ago that I wrote a piece tearing the decision apart and making it clear that the fight was non-competitive. I said that it reeked of desperation, and I still believe that to this day. Dana White hasn't even tried to spin this to make it look legitimate. Why?
Because there's no way to do it.
Sonnen is fighting for a title in a weight class he hasn't competed in since UFC 55 in 2005. And he lost that fight. For some perspective, the headliner on that card was Andrei Arlovski vs. Paul Buentello for the UFC heavyweight title. What about Sonnen's opponent? Jones was 18 at the time and didn't even take his first MMA fight until two and a half years after that. While Sonnen has been a top guy at middleweight over the last few years, his resume didn't warrant jumping the line at 205 to a title fight. But we all know this already.
So, what makes you want to pay to see that then? Is it the other fights on the main card maybe? While I do enjoy Michael Bisping's fights, three out of his last four have been on free TV anyway. Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo? It's a gatekeeper heavyweight fight with little relevance. Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes has the potential to be a good style clash but will probably involve Davis using his wrestling in reverse and standing with Vinny for 15 minutes. And while I consider myself a huge Jim Miller fan, his opponent Pat Healy isn't known for his exciting fights.
Was it the six-month build to the big fight? The awkward interviews and promos? The weird, forced rivalry the two men have forged? A season of TUF that completely lacked coach drama? While Sonnen did a commendable job of selling himself as a person, I certainly haven't seen a lot of people saying "oh man, I have to see that fight now!" after all this.
How about the recent steroid accusations by Jones towards Sonnen? That has to build some heat, right? No, no it doesn't. It just helps to drag the promotion and the sport through the mud a little more, albeit unintentionally. Dan Hardy said it best on twitter:
Since when did promoting a fight mean accusing your opponent of using steroids? Can't be good for the sport right...? #JustDontDoIt— Dan Hardy (@danhardymma) April 17, 2013
The simple truth is that this is being sold as another one-fight card. Jones vs. Sonnen is what people will be potentially paying for, and those two men will be the ones getting a share of that PPV money. I consider myself one of those people that will order every UFC PPV - the dream customer for the promotion. But that stops on Saturday night.
This fight requires me to suspend disbelief to convince myself that it's a balanced, competitive fight. You know what else requires a suspension of disbelief to enjoy it? Pro wrestling. And that's what the last six months have felt like - a big, goofy WWE-like build to a bout with no real substance. I watch the UFC because it's a sport, a sport with legitimate athletic competition where anything can happen. If I wanted pro wrestling, I'd watch the WWE.
I'm not delusional - I know one less buy won't affect much, and I don't exactly expect a lot of people to feel the same way I do. But I refuse to encourage the UFC to promote non-competitive fights in exchange for my hard-earned cash. Because they'll just continue to do it if this does well. And the main event of UFC 159 is not competitive or legitimate. It's all sizzle and no steak, so I'm going to let myself go hungry on Saturday night.