This past weekend saw yet another excellent, ranked contender's bout featured on the Fight Pass prelims portion of the UFC Salt Lake City card. Cub Swanson and Tatsuya Kawajiri put on a classic performance that many felt should have won Fight of the Night honors, and would have been a much better fit for the main event, but the promotional brass determined otherwise on both counts.
A new trend has started with the booking of top tier contenders for Fight Pass prelims, and both fans and fighters are not exactly jumping for joy at the prospect. At a time when fight arenas are veritable ghost towns with more tumbleweeds than fans in the building, it seems a shame to waste your bigger names on those early curtain-jerkers. These fights also tend to suffer in the bonus department, as the $50K checks seem to go to the athletes higher up on the card, closer to the forefront of memory.
UFC 202 will see yet another prime bout relegated to the UFC's online platform when Number 7 ranked Neil Magny faces the crowd pleasing Lorenz Larkin in a fight that will see one of the two start making a definitive climb up the title ladder. Larkin is not at all pleased with the odd placement of the contest on the card. In an interview with the Three Amigos Podcast, he voiced his displeasure at the prospect, and also weighed in on a few other topics.
"It's the stupidest thing I've seen in a while and I don't understand it whatsoever. I get that from a business aspect, they want to sell more subscriptions, but as a fighter, it makes no sense to put that type of fight on the early prelims. Man...I don't even know what to say. It's just stupid.
This fight, Cub Swanson's fight—those are main card material. At the very least, and I'm not crazy about this either, it's a prelim bout for FOX Sports 1. Come on, these aren't Fight Pass fights.
Anytime I'm asked to comment on anything, I try to look at it from a fighter's aspect and a business aspect, so I'm not being the "dumb fighter" that's talking out of his ass. That said, I do understand they're trying to sell subscriptions, but from a fighter's point of view, I have to wonder what it does for me. How does this benefit me?
This card is potentially going to be the biggest card of the year. It's probably going to beat UFC 200, but that exposure won't really be there for me. My fight will be over early and I'll be in the stands waiting on everybody else to get in the building [laughs]."
Larkin's fight is a relatively short notice bout. He's stepping in with one month's notice for an injured Dong Hyun Kim. When asked if he feels more fighters should step up to help out the promotion, he didn't mince any words on the subject.
"You know, that's a good question, and I would say yes, but look where I'm at. I'm fighting right after Production puts up the cage [laughs]. I would say that everybody should help out the company, but damn, don't use my life to decide something like that."
One of the problematic areas with the UFC's ranking system is that title fights are frequently made with absolutely no attention paid to the rankings (which the UFC instituted themselves). Lorenz, like many others, doesn't believe in the ranking system's validity and understands that exciting fights truly dictate the real pecking order.
"The rankings don't mean shit. If the fight looks to be exciting, they put the it together, regardless of rankings. It doesn't matter if you're Number 1 or Number 7. That's why top guys have gotten shelved for a little bit while Number 7 has already had a title shot. If you're exciting, they're going to make the fights happen."
A lot has been made of new welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley's choices for his first title defense. Larkin understands the philosophy of striking while the iron is hot, even if he wasn't a Woodley fan in those early Strikeforce years.
"Woodley's been in the game for a while and he's earned his spot. I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't a fan of his in Strikeforce. When he came to the UFC, he turned into a completely different fighter. I respect his game and I love the way he fights now. He wants the big money fights, and who can blame him. Hopefully they don't put him on the Fight Pass prelims [laughs]."
The audio for this interview will be available on this Thursday's episode of the Three Amigos Podcast. You can watch Lorenz Larkin vs. Neil Magny August 20th on the Fight Pass prelims portion of UFC 202 from Las Vegas, Nevada. Remember, if you're looking for us on SoundCloud or iTunes, we're under the MMA Nation name. Follow our Twitter accounts: Stephie Haynes, Three Amigos Podcast, Geroge Lockhart, Iain Kidd and Mookie Alexander or our Facebook fan page, Three Amigos Pod.