Welcome to the Haters' Guide. This is a new series, inspired by Drew Magary's pieces for Deadspin, in which Mookie and I will be taking a satirical and critical look at various aspects of the upcoming fight card; this week, we'll be focusing on the UFC's emerging approach to prospect development, the promotion for UFC 170 or lack thereof, and the mess with Jessica Eye.
We've got a lot of problems with you people, and you're going to hear about them.
Patrick: I want to start by talking about the UFC's emerging prospect development strategy, which might charitably be categorized as throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. In order to keep up with obligations to their Fight Pass platform while still filling broadcast time on Fox platforms and stacking PPVs, they've signed a boatload of new fighters and massively expanded the roster. Some of these new signings are already competitive (Rashid Magomedov, Alex Garcia), others are promising but raw prospects signed a year too early (Mike Rhodes, Albert Tumenov, Kevin Lee), and far too many are too old, have limited upside, or simply aren't that good to begin with (Gasan Umalatov, Danny Martinez).
The Fight Pass prelims for UFC 169 and the last Fight Night were interminable. In fact, I'm pretty sure we experienced the rise and fall of a new ice age - seriously, I think I saw a sabertooth tiger chasing an Irish Elk - while Joe Proctor and Cristiano Marcello put on a battle whose memory will surely echo through eternity. Basically, these kinds of wholly uninspiring fights are a predictable occurrence when the strategy seems to consist of throwing together talent that's either subpar to begin with or not yet ready for the big stage. Even the most promising young signees are in the process of adjusting to both a higher level of competition than they've faced to that point and infinitely greater pressure to perform. This strategy of signing guys and throwing them into seemingly random matchups will eventually produce some good fighters, but prospects don't grow into top-10 fighters overnight, and not every new signing is worth developing. If the UFC wants to be in the business of developing rather than simply acquiring talent, they need a real and consistent strategy instead of just throwing the pieces - Pedro Munhoz, for instance - into the wood chipper and seeing what comes out whole on the other side.
Mookie: I have already forgotten 80% of both the Fight Night 36 and UFC 169 prelims. An increase in events is probably going to lead to an influx of hit-and-miss prospects filling up the Fight Pass broadcasts while you scour Wikipedia for a quick bio and find that there's no hyperlink in the name. Combine the need for fights with the need for replacement opponents and you're left with Pedro Munhoz's debut coming against a top 5 bantamweight in Raphael Assuncao, plus a short-notice matchup of Ernest Chavez against Yosdenis Cedeno, who I briefly thought was MLB shortstop Ronny Cedeno.
Patrick: You mean MLB shortstop Ronny Cedeno, i.e. the guy who clocked a solid .167 in 206 plate appearances for the basement-dwelling 2009 Seattle Mariners? How a guy that bad got 206 plate appearances is frankly beyond me, much like Alessio Sakara's eight-year tenure in the UFC, but I digress. Yosdenis Cedeno is actually one of the recent signings I like: he's ridiculously explosive, throws wild stuff on the feet, and can be hellaciously fun to watch when he finds a groove. Chavez, on the other hand, exemplifies the problems of a bloated roster.
Mookie: It's really not that unbelievable when you consider the Mariners have a knack for letting bad players get multiple cracks at being bad.
UFC 170's advertising, or the lack thereof
Mookie: It's cool to beat up on UFC 170 because the co-main event now features a relative unknown who was last seen serving coffee to the distracted Californians who would otherwise be on their way to work or a traffic accident caused by texting. But wasn't it just two weeks ago that Dos Anjos/Khabilov and Cormier/Evans was still on the card? This was a pretty good PPV on paper and it just caught the dreaded injury bug. The problem here is that the UFC has basically put in minimal effort on marketing this, and I guess since Dana White has already proclaimed Ronda Rousey, who need I remind you is the first ever Olympian in history, the "biggest star we've ever had", they don't NEED to heavily advertise her fights. There's also Rory MacDonald/Demian Maia on this card, and in a GSP-less division you would think welterweight bouts of this caliber would have heavy emphasis, but nope, it's the same, tired, monotonous advertising from the UFC on one of their PPVs.
Patrick: You're absolutely right in pointing to the injury bug as a contributing factor for this card, and why the UFC didn't book a second light heavyweight fight as a backup to Evans-Cormier - a hugely meaningful fight in the division - is puzzling. That's been an effective strategy to offset the injury problem, but they don't apply it with any consistency, hence the debut of a veteran barista (yes, I'm familiar with Cummins' credentials) without a Wikipedia page in the co-main event against a guy who's at most two fights away from a title shot.
I had no idea that Rory Mac-Maia was booked for this card. None. We're talking about a pair of top-5 welterweights, and their bout has received absolutely zero promotion.
Mookie: With the likelihood that GSP is never coming back they should be doing everything possible to highlight title challengers at 170, especially since their next PPV is a showcase for the top of the division. RoryMac/Maia is practically an afterthought, which, as much as Rory hasn't been impressive in his last two fights, is unfair to him considering he's still highly talented and has youth on his side (which Maia does not). Instead they're going to force-feed some silly narrative about how heated a rivalry Cormier/Cummins has been over the years, and how Cummins made him cry after a beautiful rendition of Michael Jackson's "She's Out of My Life" when it's destined to be a total whitewashing.
About Jessica Eye...
Mookie: We should be talking about Alexis Davis vs. Jessica Eye as a potential #1 contender match, but all of the discussion has been focused on Eye's failed drug test, denial, and bungling of her own public image with her behavior on social media. The UFC goes out of its way to hide drug test failures or "negative" stories about their fighters while on the air, so I wonder how they'll handle something like this. After all, Fox Sports, their official broadcast partner, wrote up an article confirming Eye's suspension for marijuana use, and the Eye/Kaufman fight was flipped to a "no decision". Will the UFC conjure up some outrageous spin or actually inform the viewer up front?
Patrick: I'd peg "No Mention of No-Contest" as about a 4:1 favorite, or roughly the current line for Rousey-McMann. We have to counterbalance the UFC's overwhelming tendency to sweep anything even remotely unpleasant under the rug with the possibility that Joe Rogan's sympathetic views on weed make it more likely that he'd somehow stumble onto the topic during the broadcast. As far as Eye's own atrocious behavior in the period before the fight is concerned, I'd set "No Mention of Lying to the Fans and Media" at about 12:1, or the odds that Daniel Cormier is currently getting over Patrick Cummins.
Despite my resemblance to a broke-ass Ice-T and Mookie's wardrobe looking as bombed out and depleted as Afghanistan, we hope you've enjoyed this first installment of the Haters' Guide. Give us a follow on Twitter - @Patrick_Wyman and @mookiealexander - for more analysis and snark, and keep your eyes peeled for future installments.