Here. We. Go…again.
The year 2016 wasn’t a good year for many people, be it affected by politics or tragedy. Put the UFC brass in that same category.
McGregor is their only real shining light at this point. He’s the only marquee guy on the UFC’s roster everyone wants to see. Just ask the folks who saw him capture the UFC’s Lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
The failures started when UFC 200 took shape in the worst way possible. In fact, the effects are still being felt today.
Jon Jones failed a drug test from the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency), which resulted in his 1-year suspension from competing. He was supposed to face Daniel Cormier for the Light-Heavyweight title but was replaced by Anderson Silva. The fight was viewed as underwhelming despite Cormier playing smart and not striking with Silva.
That main event was supposed to replace McGregor/Diaz 2.. The main event wound up being Miesha Tate defending her bantamweight title against Amanda Nunes, which Nunes won decisively despite the lack of press.
All the attention went to the returning Brock Lesnar, who defeated Mark Hunt for three rounds. Later on, it was revealed Lesnar failed a drug test and resulted in his 1-year suspension from competition.
Needless to say, Hunt was very unhappy about that.
The domino effect culminated after McGregor’s victory in New York. Cormier was scheduled to face Anthony Johnson for UFC 206, but Cormier suffered a knee injury. That resulted in Max Holloway defeating Anthony Pettis in the main event for the interim featherweight title, which Pettis failed to make weight for.
This brings us to the last event of 2016. All the hype surrounded Ronda Rousey’s return, when it should’ve been focused on her opponent, current champion Amanda Nunes. Rousey’s rust showed after not fighting for 13 months.
Nunes dominated Rousey in 48 seconds. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight due tor Rousey unable to defend herself effectively. Many doubters emerged that Rousey wouldn’t continue, but that’s not the real story.
Despite the loss, Rousey still made $3 million for the fight. Nunes made $200K, which included her knockout bonus. The story is about Rousey falling and not Nunes’ victories over both Rousey and Tate in the same year.
How can the UFC overcome this? How will the UFC rebound from their mistakes in 2016? We all know they can succeed, but how they can do it can be simple.
For starters, shift the focus to Nunes. Granted, this can backfire like it did with Holly Holm’s reign. However, the potential is ripe to take advantage of.
Nunes is the UFC’s first openly gay champion in its history. She also has a great story about rising from poverty to get to this point in her Mixed Martial Arts career.
Speaking of the women, shift your focus to Joanna Jedrzejcyk. She is the current Women’s Strawweight Champion and loves to add more names to her impressive resume.
Another thing the UFC should do is to maintain focus on Demetrious Johnson. They centered “The Ultimate Fighter” around him, as 16 independent champions fought for a chance to challenge Johnson for his flyweight title. The tournament ended with Johnson recording his ninth straight title defense.
The bottom line is that MMA, like all other sports, is cyclical. You can replace each gear with a new one, and it can take fans on a new adventure. That’s what needs to happen for the UFC.
They can and will rebound from this. But that needs to start immediately. The sooner they embrace the changing of the guard, the better the sport becomes.
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