As far as your standard, available-on-regular-TV-not-pay-per-view fight cards go, September’s UFC Fight Night event in Connecticut is stacked.
Like for real stacked, not UFC boss Dana White espousing it as “this is the best fight card ever” when everyone knows that isn’t the case stacked. Legitimately, genuinely, intriguingly stacked.
All six fights on the main card have the potential to be exciting encounters and many of them carry divisional ramifications. It’s a can’t-miss event that has people excited a month before the Sept. 5 card, which is rare in the current UFC climate.
As much as September’s first event is garnering attention, the last of the four shows scheduled for September has already become a force of nature that threatens to overshadow everything else taking place in the Octagon between now and then.
UFC 178 boasts one of the most complete fight cards in quite some time — a collection of compelling bouts and storylines capped by a heated grudge match between light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones and challenger Daniel Cormier that became even more anticipated when the two got physical at a press event earlier this week in Las Vegas.
From top to bottom, there is something interesting about every fight that has already been announced for the Sept. 27 show, and the UFC has been teasing that there might still be another big matchup slotted in as the co-main event in the near future. More than any event in recent memory, UFC 178 is an undeniable, “circle the date on your calendar” fight card.
There are four events scheduled to take place in August, with another two shows slotted between UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs. Mousasi and the Jones-Cormier showdown at UFC 178. None of them are remotely close to being as loaded as the anticipated offerings to begin and end next month, and there is a very real possibility that the events that follow in October won’t measure up in terms of overall quality either.
That’s the reality of booking blockbuster events. In order to have great cards like the first and last events in September, there have to be some average fight cards surrounding them.
Fans and critics need to keep that in mind when singing the praises of the highly anticipated fight cards on the horizon. They can’t be doling out high fives to the UFC for loading up these two events, then ripping them for putting forth a series of events with two or three big names and a bunch of lower-tier talent rounding out the lineup before, between and after those shows.
It’s not like there haven’t been very recent examples of events of that nature exceeding expectations either. Last month’s event in Atlantic City, closed out by Donald Cerrone’s second-round knockout win over Jim Miller, was short on big names, but produced nine finishes, with all 11 bouts delivering excitement.
Loading up a couple of pay-per-views every year appears to be where the UFC is headed. We’ve already seen them run two of their biggest stars — Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman — in tandem on two different occasions and both of the early December (UFC 181) and early January (UFC 182) shows are expected to be star-studded affairs with multiple title fights and/or major names attached to each.
Stacking the deck for a Fight Night show isn’t as common an occurrence, with next month’s event in Connecticut getting extra firepower as a result of Bellator MMA hosting an event 10 minutes down the road the very same night, even if the UFC doesn’t want to admit that has influenced their decision.
More often than not, the televised Fight Night events will continue to follow the blueprint we’ve seen over the last couple of years — a quality contender bout as the headliner, a couple fights featuring ranked competitors batting second and third and seven or eight sound matchups between lesser-known talent rounding out the lineup.
Right now, there seems to be an acceptance of this reality, which is great — everyone seems OK with UFC 177, on Aug. 30, being a little light outside the two championship fights, because the following month’s pay-per-view offering is packed with goodness.
Hopefully that understanding remains once the August fight cards start hitting the Octagon and more bouts get added to the scheduled events in October. Those cards won’t stack up to the two September standouts, but if you want to see big events, you have to accept the fact that there will be some weaker cards too.
— E. Spencer Kyte authors Keyboard Kimura at theprovince.com/mmablog.
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