Welcome to MMA Squared. Today we say farewell to UFC on FOX, the ‘mainstream’ showcase. Booking vacillated between #1 contender fights and attempts to build PPV stars. Its inaugural event set the tone for the overall success: Good... but not what we really wanted to happen.
One year into the experiment the UFC started headlining cards with title fights, seemingly in a bid to develop Benson Henderson and Demetrious Johnson into PPV stars. It didn’t work but saw six title defenses. Bendo vs Diaz, Johnson vs Dodson and Benavidez were all stellar.
The strategy that felt most appropriate was to book dynamic strikers, brawlers, and casual-fan friendly matchups that had divisional significance. I had guests over the night Robbie Lawler fought Matt Brown. They’d never seen MMA before, but were riveted from start to finish.
TJ Dillashaw’s dismantling of Renan Barao is personal favorite. Showcase a young champ with a style that looks like a Kung Fu dance video: perfect. Whether people grabbed onto him is secondary. Exciting fighters were on network TV, and Dillashaw put on a show.
The newest Women’s Flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko has two excellent wins on Big FOX. First a sniper performance against Holly Holm, and then a crafty submission over Juliana Pena. It’s too bad so much time elapsed between these fights and her recent title win.
And finally: two knockdown drag out masterpieces for Dustin Poirier. Years have gone by and he has emerged as one of the most reliable action fighters at the elite level. His win against Justin Gaethje had everything we wanted with some rolling thunder thrown in for good measure.
Farewell UFC on FOX. It was a weird ride. We didn’t get exactly what we hoped for (more stars, casual fans) but we got a lot good fights along the way. MMA Squared is brought to you by COMBAT WOMBAT. An expression of Marsupial violence known... somewhere. This is Chris (@RiniMMA)
Take care of yourself and I’ll see you tomorrow for the FCC (Friday Caption Contest). Chris