UFC on FX 5 poster
The UFC has a potential #1 contender fight in the flyweight division this week on FX. So why is it not on the event poster?
We are only one week removed from crowning the first ever UFC Flyweight champion, so the next step logically is to find the next contender and promote them as a threat to Demetrious Johnson. This week at UFC on FX 5 is effectively a #1 contender fight between John Dodson and Jussier Formiga, and it opens up the main card. But if you look at the event poster, this fight is nowhere to be seen or even vaguely referenced. Instead, below the main event of Travis Browne and Antonio Silva is the co-main event of Jake Ellenberger against Jay Hieron and Josh Neer vs. Justin Edwards.
I know, I shouldn't be making a big thing out of a poster, but it's still a form of advertisement. Promoting the main event and co-main is only logical and this card has a top 10 WW and two top 10 HWs. That said, while Josh Neer may be a more recognizable name for casual fans than either Dodson or Formiga, his fight with Justin Edwards is completely irrelevant at this point no matter how entertaining it could be. Neer is essentially a gatekeeper at this point and he's been released by the UFC twice before. Edwards is 1-2 in the UFC and was easily taken down and outgrappled for three rounds by John Maguire in his last fight. You could argue this fight doesn't deserve to be on the main card, let alone the poster, but that's another story.
It's not like Dodson is a 100% unknown, either. He's a TUF 14 winner and he won the bantamweight final with a spectacular KO of T.J. Dillashaw, so he should be at least semi-known. Jussier Formiga is regarded as the #3 flyweight in the world and the best one outside of the UFC. The BJJ black belt is also a Nova Uniao member, and they already hold the interim bantamweight (Renan Barao) and undisputed featherweight (Jose Aldo) belts.
This is the 2nd time in a few months that the UFC has mismanaged the handling of their smaller weight classes. Their last FX in June saw top 5 FW Hatsu Hioki take on Ricardo Lamas on the preliminary card while Sam Stout vs. Spencer Fisher III got the co-main slot. The fact that Hioki was in a position for a title shot and wasn't getting any main card time was ridiculous enough, but when Lamas pulled off the upset it vaulted him into title contention. Unfortunately, because Lamas has been given a grand total of 0 main card fights since 2009 there's no way of marketing him to fight Jose Aldo (or Frankie Edgar) any time soon.
If the UFC continues to not make any effort to push their smaller weight classes and expect that the viewing audience will just watch anything they throw together, they will continue to put up miniscule PPV numbers when any title fight from 125-145 is the main event. I understand they have a lack of fighters at 125, but that should not prevent them from marketing the importance and excitement of their newest weight class early. There needs to be continuity in the "storyline" so to speak. You can't sell a title fight if you don't promote the potential challenger, and the UFC has dropped the ball in not giving Formiga/Dodson more importance this Friday.