The UFC are losing the interest of several fans with their sub-par events, and though this is something fans have become accustomed to with ‘Fight Night’ events, their pay-per-view events are struggling to capture interests too. The upcoming UFC 170 card is one of the worst pay-per-view cards in recent memory; aside from the main event, which poses some interesting questions, the co main event is a rushed replacement fight, the two fights prior to the co main feature four fighters coming off loses, and the first fight of the main card has no divisional implications whatsoever.
Skip forward to the next two events after 170, and there isn’t much improvement at all – Fight Night 37 features a main event that will struggle to pull numbers, with Dong-Hyun Kim taking on John Hathaway, and the only other two attractions from the main card feature fighters coming off losses. The upcoming card in London, England is solid, but outside of the top two fights, features little in terms of importance and intrigue.
When comparing the standard of UFC 170 to the UFC 157 card, which was held in February of last year, there is a huge difference. Outside of the main event, which also featured UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, there were a plethora of fighters who have either fought for the title since, or are scheduled to fight for the belt in the future. Urijah Faber, Lyoto Machida and Robbie Lawler were all victorious on the card, which also featured high profile fighters such as Josh Koscheck and Dan Henderson.
So why are mundane cards which, outside of the top couple of fights, offer little more than ‘filler’ bouts becoming the norm?
With the UFC publicly stating their roster is over-stacked on a frequent basis, they are doing more harm than good in terms of attracting potential viewers and buyers. While continuing to cut the likes of Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch to cut costs is a big mistake when they use the funds to sign unproven, cheap fighters who are likely to stay on the preliminary cards for the foreseeable future. Albeit some fighters have gone from obscurity to top ranked in little time (see Khabib Nurmagomedov, Ali Bagautinov et al.), this is a small minority.
The old myth was that cards that are sub-par on paper end up being massively entertaining, this hasn’t been the case with recent events. In particular, the most recent two events have featured 20 decisions – ten in each (the joint UFC record for fights going the distance) – and despite the UFC 169 card looking good on paper, and the latter Fight Night 36 coming under the sub-par category, both featured little in terms of excitement.
The direction the UFC is going in is rather worrying; the #2 lightweight in the world Gilbert Melendez opted to join Bellator and more have threatened they could make the move also, while the UFC seem unconcerned and are attempting to sign obscure, cheap recruitments. Something needs to change before it’s too late.