UFC is cutting off their nose to spite their face.
It's not a secret that UFC President Dana White admires the promotional success in which Vince McMahon has enjoyed over at WWE, but this week he solidified a similar attitude when it was announced that Valentina Shevchenko would take on Sijara Eubanks in the main event of UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden for the vacant UFC Flyweight Championship.
If you're asking "who is Sijara Eubanks?," you wouldn't be alone. She was to compete for the inaugural Flyweight Title last year after a successful Ultimate Fighter run, but didn't make it to the fight. The same happened to Nicco Montano, her original opponent, earlier this year, leading to the vacation. But more than "who?," the "why?" is more prominent.
Good luck answering that one. UFC 230 had a co-main event with heavy interest in a returning Nate Diaz against Dustin Poirier. Shevchenko was slated to face an all-time great in Joanna Jedrzejczyk for that Flyweight title later this years. Details are few at this point, but by all means, it looks like UFC sacrificed a highly anticipated fight in Shevchenko vs. Joanna to book a title fight that almost no one (besides maybe Sijara Eubanks) was clamoring for.
All other options had been exhausted. A lot of people were hurt or not ready -- there weren't any title fights available for early November. The UFC did try. Then Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier gave the company an easy out.
The two pushed on social media to compete for the first ever UFC 165 pound title -- an idea met with positive reception. The idea has been pushed by fighters, specifically since many changes to weigh-ins have been made, including morning implementation, and banned use of IVs to rehydrate.
Dana White seems to think that the lightweight and welterweight (which would likely move to 175 pounds) divisions would be diluted as a result. Nevermind that 155 and 170 pounds have roughly 100 fighters each, common sense would indicate the opposite of White's sentiment.
A 165 division isn't a novelty. It'd likely feature Kevin Lee, Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Eddie Alvarez, Rafael Dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone, Nate Diaz and others. The talent is there. The demand is there. Much more than when UFC created a women's featherweight division nearly two years ago for Cris Cyborg that has essentially served as the equivalent of a beer pong "celebrity shot."
Jon Jones was briefly linked to UFC 230, but UFC wisely decided against booking someone fresh off of a suspension in the main event of the event. That's not to say they should go the complete opposite route and book someone that nobody knows -- especially when better options are in front of your face.
The UFC got caught red-handed. The fight that they'd "been working on" for weeks likely didn't exist. Instead of going the easy route and taking the common sense approach presented at them, they cut their nose off to spite their face and will likely call media such as myself "dummies" for suggesting such a ridiculous thing. The clown show of UFC 230's main event is making people smile for all the wrong reasons.