UFC put out all the stops for a successful fight card with UFC 200 on Saturday, July 9.
Everyone was there, especially the stars they built up in the greatest assembly of fighters and superstars.
UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor was there to engage in a rematch with Nate Diaz. Wait, sorry; that didn’t happen. McGregor and Diaz ended up being in attendance for the event due to McGregor missing media dates to promote the fight.
But don’t worry; Jon Jones was there in Las Vegas. He was all set to take on Daniel Cormier in a unification bout for the light-heavyweight title. Unfortunately for Jones, he recorded an anti-doping violation. That caused the UFC brass to pull Jones out of the bout and move an amazing bout that was sure to justify that top dollar: Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship.
These are two great fighters and are worthy of the main event. The problem is neither one is a household name yet.
Where were Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey? They weren’t even on the card.
Therein lied the issue with UFC 200. For a card built up to be monumental, it didn’t live up to the hype.
Then again, was there any hype to begin with? Promos for UFC 200 rarely ran on networks other than FOX Sports 1. In fact, the card arguably drew more press with Jones’ expulsion from the event.
Have no fear; UFC 200 did end up having two superstars of old battle in their respective divisions: Anderson Silva and Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar was the co-main event in his victory against Mark Hunt. The fight was a smart strategic win for Lesnar, as he took Hunt to the ground and avoided Hunt’s knockout power. Not bad or a guy who clearly had to shake off the rust after four and a half years without a fight.
Silva suffered the same fate as he took the fight with Cormier in two days notice. Cormier played it safe and took down Silva. It was the right move for Cormier, who clearly didn’t want to trade blows with Silva.
However, these two bouts would not win over the common fan. They were won with brains, not fists.
The fights weren’t the problem. It was star talent that led to the downfall of UFC 200. And this could lead to bigger drawbacks down the line.
McGregor saw Jose Aldo Jr. patiently and dissect Frankie Edgar to win the interim featherweight title. If that Aldo meets McGregor, it could lead to bad news for the UFC brass as well as McGregor.
Rousey is in a worse predicament. She’ll return in a stronger division taking on Nunes, Tate, Holm and Juliana Pena, who defeated Cat Zigano in the preliminary card that aired on FOX Sports 1.
That’s even if she returns from her endorsement deals and movie projects.
We don’t even know if Jon Jones will return soon. It appears the seemingly untouchable Jones needs to defeat his demons before he returns to the Octagon.
UFC is in a deeper hole than realized: no star power. It had to rely on the ghosts of MMA past to hold them over. It was 50/50 at best, with Lesnar winning and Silva losing. But it’s a Band-Aid on and exposed wound. The UFC needs to develop more household names.
The task is easier said than done. Even the big three of sports went through their stages without a top draw.
Baseball has plenty of stars that can become the face of the sport. Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw are just two of those names.
Forget about football and basketball. The NBA and NFL use their stars in different ways obtaining the same result: money.
MMA is dangerously close to boxing. They need that top draw to get people back. Let’s see if McGregor can do so when he faces Diaz on August 20.
Until then, here’s hoping the UFC can rebound from their mediocre UFC 200 event.
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