Thursday, January 24, 2013

Looking for a Fight: UFC on Fox 6

Why is the main event not treated like the main event? (

In everyday life, it's probably not hard to overlook UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson or number one contender John Dodson. When I mean overlook I mean to literally look over them. They both touch the tape at 5'3 and if anything - to the regular, everyday Joe Schmo* on the street - would probably only garner attention for how small they are. That of course right before they'd leap behind you and choke the consciousness out of you.

**I'm perfectly fine admitting that, although fake deaf, I still find Karlee (Jo Newman) really attractive. I mean even if she was deaf, I'd still date her.

Yes, in the ever growing world of MMA fighters come in all shapes and sizes. No longer can one just pick on a guy at the bar (if you're the kind of guy that's into that sort of thing) because you're bigger or apparently stronger. Keeping it real can go wrong.

Of course, whether you are in the real world or being locked in the Octagon, respect has to be earned. Since the inception of the flyweight division in mid-2012 the fighters haven't earned the respect of the fans as they should in the UFC.

So when the main event on a Fox card is the least talked about, well, where's the respect? In fairness, the UFC did load up this card with Quentin "Rampage" Jackson's apparent exit from the UFC against fellow slugger and sneaky ground guy/hype machine Glover Teixeira and a fight everyone is salivating over Donald Cerrone against Anthony Pettis. It's certainly no crime to be excited about every fight on a UFC event, but the overshadowing of the main event is only partially due to the undercard being so stacked.

What I am finding interesting is the lack of interest in the championship bout. Incorporating new divisions have been hit and miss for the UFC. The featherweight division has been a smash. The division champ Jose Aldo is not only one of the pound for pound best fighters on the planet, but he's also headlining the UFC's spectacular pre-Super Bowl card in February by taking on featherweight n00b and former 155 champ Frankie Edgar. Throw in a Korean Zombie and Erik Koch types and the UFC fans have a lot to look forward to.

Batamweight has been a mixed bag. Dominick Cruz is a formidable champ, but he'll be out coming up on 2 years by the time his second knee injury is fully healed. The UFC should have stripped him of the title and let the batamweight division grow, but at this point it's stagnant.

Most recently, the women's division headlined and developed specifically for Ronda Rousey has come under nothing but fire. This is a much larger discussion for another day, but basically it comes down to the vocal minority not wanting to see "chick's fight." Don't think it's gender bias? Both champs previously mentioned (Aldo and Cruz) were given UFC belts right from the get go. No one seemed to care. Now Rousey gets her belt and it's chaos.

Of course the flyweight division has been building. There have been multiple title fights, and no shortage of fighters that push the pace and have the potential for an exciting fight. Fans, however, must adjust their expectation for what this fight can bring. Much like any other division - you can expect a certain kind of fight based upon the make-up and size of the fighters. Light heavyweight has always been one of if not the most exciting division because at 205 you get a perfect combination of size, speed and power. As the scale tips lighter - the power decreases and speed and technicality increases. Flip the scale the other way, and you're looking for a lot of big powerful fighters. So why shouldn't the fans expect a different style of fights by guys that are 125 pounds?

You cannot end a fight in a more spectacular fashion than a knock out. It's the most exciting and the thought that flyweights can't finish fights is unfounded. Dodson, for example, has finished two of his last three fights by KO. Albeit he is an exception at 125 to be able to throw with that kind of power.

So while the possibility of a KO is much more limited, it's important for fans to watch the fight for what these flyweights are. Extremely fast and athletic fighters that will give non-stop energy for 3, 4, and 5 rounds. I don't buy that fans need the KO or finish. Two of the more memorable fights in UFC history that I can think of off the top of my head went to a decision (Griffin v. Bonnar and Couture v. Silvia). Tack on Georges St-Pierre's last five fights and you'll see more of the same. Fans weren't bored by those. GSP's last pay per view had over 700,000 buys.

It's not the lack of finishes were seeing but the disappointment in setting the wrong expectations. If you've never been to In-N-Out Burger but have heard of it, you're expectations are pretty high. If you order your burger animal style, take a bite and it tastes like the stuff you used to get from your elementary school cafeteria, yeah you'll be disappointed. In starting the flyweight division, there is no real "expectation" for these fights. People don't know what to expect, so when they see something like speed (a skill that doesn't translate well on TV, especially when you're going against other speedy fighters) it comes off as boring or poorly executed.

Both Johnson and Dodson have been booed excessively during their few fights in the UFC so far. The fans haven't set their expectations appropriately and also, there hasn't been a signature flyweight fight so far in the UFC. Johnson v. Ian McCall was marred due to judging, not execution. But this fight on Saturday has the potential to be that fight that provides clarity to the fans exactly what fighting at flyweight is all about.

That, of course, is on both Johnson and Dodson to put on that fight. That doesn't mean knock outs and wheel kicks and back flips everywhere, but a high octane fight that is all go and show from the opening bell until someone's hand is raised. Both these fighters will have the chance to put an emphatic stamp on UFC on Fox card, but also win one for the flyweight division.

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