With the UFC’s International Fight Week upon us, the allure of the sport’s biggest promotion has centered around a variety of festivities in Las Vegas, Nevada. Two events and plenty of things to do in the meantime for fans who have made the trek to Sin City. But how long will the UFC continue to do this?
For starters, if it they turn a big profit, one would assume they would continue this annual tent pole event. Then again, they have turned away profits for other opportunities. See “Canada," what Dana White called “The Mecca of MMA”. It’s more like the ghost town of MMA now, but most of the blame can be put on the organization, not on the fan base.
The UFC, both in the Zuffa era and the current WME-IMG era have always been an opportunistic bunch. In business, you have to be. You go with what works, often stick with it, until you notice it begins to trail off. That’s when you have to ensure you have already had a Plan B conjured up and can implement it with the turn of a key.
Multiple events have become synonymous with International Fight Week, one of which is The Ultimate Fighter Finale.
While I am not privy to the actual ratings TUF does in North America, the sense I get from my dealings with the hardcore fans, mainstream fans, the average joe and the media, is that - well - nobody watches it. I am guilty of this myself.
For the past 10 seasons or so, I find myself in the same routine: I watch the first few episodes, and before I know it, I stopped and there are six shows (and counting) on my DVR/PVR. I want to catch up. I need to catch up. But before I know it, the TUF Finale for whatever season it may be is just days away, and there is just no more time to do so.
Until the show gets pulled from the airwaves, Dana White will always say it is still as relevant as always. That’s his job to offer up that positioning. If I was in his position, I would say the same thing. But the reality is this: I don’t know anyone, other than the man in the mirror, who watches the show.
I want to watch it, but at this point, I feel as if it’s run it’s course. The only time I am somewhat interested is when there is something “new” added in and not the recycled nature of what it seems to be as of late. The redemption story caught me for a bit, but it’s lustre faded. Perhaps the introduction of a new division (the upcoming women’s 125 lbs weight class) may entice me to watch, but I believe there are better ways at doing it.
In my opinion, the UFC could take advantage of the ball that Bellator dropped: the tournament format. And they can do so via the upcoming “Contender Series”. I’m not going to give away how EASY it can be implemented, but let’s just say sports fans love tournaments and love champions. Don’t believe me? Look at the NCAA Basketball ratings. The NFL, MLB and NHL Playoff ratings.
But I digress.
Also synonymous with International Fight Week is a pay per view event with a world title headlining the card. And we have one this Saturday night that is not only fantastic, but we get two for the price of one.
In the main event, one of the baddest women on the planet, Amanda Nunes will defend her Bantamweight title vs. Valentina Shevchenko. What sucks about this fight is that there isn’t much mainstream chatter about it.
Nunes has been on a Conor McGregor pay per view card (UFC 196), subsequently crushed Miesha Tate (fairly popular name) to win the title, then obliterated Ronda Rousey (biggest name ever) to defend her strap. She’s also submitted Sara McMann, an Olympic Wrestling Silver Medalist. In case you missed it, Amanda Nunes is a bad ass. And no one really knows who she is.
Also on the card, is the stellar co-main event where many believe, the best middleweight in the world will be crowned with an interim title. While Champion Michael Bisping is the rightful claimer to being the best on the planet, not many people sincerely believe it. It seems as if Saturday’s tilt between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker will offer up who the best 185 lber on the planet truly is … and rest assured, Bisping will not only state otherwise, but will be more than happy to fight the winner and do whatever it takes to prove all his critics wrong.
Two nights, two events and a week of crazy events in activities going down in Vegas. While I’ve been there, done that over my career, I do miss the craziness that is International Fight Week. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. As a UFC / MMA fan, it’s a bucketlist item for sure. And you may want to consider it before the UFC pulls the plug on it.