The Greatest MMA News Column 12.11.12: Business Over Sport
Nick Diaz, not Anderson Silva, next for GSP. Well, it seems the UFC has thrown us for a loop once again. After constant reminders that Silva vs. GSP would be made and even promoting the match-up prior to and during Georges’ fight against Carlos Condit, UFC will instead keep both champions in their respective divisions for the time being. As the story goes, St-Pierre requested to fight Diaz next, citing unfinished business. Certainly, the fight will do big business, but the fight leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
It would be one thing is Diaz was coming off a win, but he lost his last fight, albeit with some controversy. Since Diaz’s loss and drug failure suspension, Johny Hendricks more than established himself as the top contender at welterweight with wins over Josh Koscheck and Martin Kampmann (preceded by a quick KO of Jon Fitch). Plus, it’s strange to go from telling people Condit divisively beat Diaz in February to build to the GSP-Condit fight, to promoting GSP vs. Diaz and saying Diaz was robbed. There’s a certain level of credibility that’s lost and takes time to rebuild. No, GSP vs. Diaz isn’t the end of the world, and the positives (money) will likely outweigh the negatives (credibility). Still, if St-Pierre isn’t fighting at welterweight next, Johny Hendricks should be opposite him in the cage. In the end, this may end up as a blessing in disguise for Hendricks as he has a legitimate grievance fans will sympathize with and if he capitalizes he could make himself a bigger star.
The other part of the story is that once again the UFC failed to make the Silva vs. St-Pierre super-fight. The bout had been teased twice the last two years, but it was never as explicitly promoted as it was in the past few months. On Saturday, after Manny Pacquiao’s knockout loss, UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta Tweeted criticism of boxing not making the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao bout that unquestionably would have been the biggest PPV of all time. That’s a valid point, but his Tweet also mentioned Silva vs. St-Pierre and Jon Jones vs. Silva, the UFC’s prospective two big super-fights. That’s funny because unless plans chance, and they could, UFC is doing the same general thing with Jones, Silva, and St-Pierre that was done with Mayweather and Pacquiao. Instead of striking while the iron is hot, they’re putting off the fights, making it very possible for one fighter to lose. Plus, Anderson Silva may be 38-years-old by the time of his next fight, and his inevitable decline is coming sooner rather than later. If UFC really wants either super-fight, there’s no strong excuse (with the exception of one of the three doesn’t want the fight) not to make it the next fight for each guy.
Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche headlines UFC 157. We knew Rousey was coming over to the UFC and would be the champion, but we didn’t know when her first fight would take place or who it would be against. On Thursday, UFC announced the undefeated Rousey would take on Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157. This is really interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is because Carmouche is not only an undeserving contender, she doesn’t seem like she’ll pose much of a threat to Rousey. Carmouche looked great against Marloes Coenen early last year, but was submitted and followed that up with a loss to Sarah Kaufman. She rebounded with two wins, but against a then 1-0 fighter and another with a .500 record. The women’s bantamweight division isn’t loaded with title contenders, but it’s not that weak. Olympic medalist Sara McMann and Miesha Tate would have been better opponents, but neither was offered the shot. The other reason is Rousey is being positioned as the main event on a PPV with a no-name opponent. Carmouche has an great backstory with being the first openly-gay UFC fighter and her military background, which will attract media attention, but she’s not known. Largely due to Rousey, UFC 157 is going to get press coverage close to or greater than big PPV shows, but there’s no concrete indication if the fight will draw proportionally as well on PPV. My feeling is she’ll draw better than most expect, but exactly what that level is I can’t say.
Dominick Cruz out for another year. Bad news for Cruz. UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz’s body rejected a cadaver ACL and now he’s looking at another year on the shelf. Cruz injured his ACL in preparation for a title defense against Urijah Faber. The champion hasn’t fought since October of 2011, and by the time he returns it will likely be more than two years between title defenses. I think it would be best for all involved for Cruz to be stripped of the title and Renan Barao’s interim title be bumped up to the undisputed title. That way, Barao (or a fighter that beats him) doesn’t have the “interim” stigma and Cruz wouldn’t have to return from a devastating injury against the best opponent possible. A tune-up fight would be the best thing for Cruz, and even if he looks bad in the fight, a win should get him a title chance.
Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald title fight set for UFC on Fuel TV 7. Speaking of Barao, he’ll be making a title defense against Michael McDonald on February 16 in London. McDonald will have the opportunity to become the youngest champion in UFC history. The bout is a good headliner for a Fuel show and a nice treat for English fans yearning for a title fight, but it won’t do anything to help the already low notoriety of Barao and McDonald.
The sixth FOX show, scheduled for January 26, will be interesting. The headliner, Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson, is significantly weaker than Ben Henderson vs. Nate Diaz. Rampage Jackson is still a big name, but he won’t as mean as much as he would in the main event slot. Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone promises to be a great fight, but it’s not something that will draw additional viewers. An interesting aspect is that it will have the advantage of being promoted during the playoffs, and viewership for the NFC Championship Game on FOX will draw huge numbers (last year’s drew 57.63 million people). Really, the best promotional tactic would be “a title fight, RAMPAGE JACKSON!!!, and a fight that could be the best of the year.” Johnson and Dodson will get a chance to win over viewers with their fight; I don’t think they’ll be able to accomplish that to a significance degree in the build.
Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to leave any feedback in the comment box or at the e-mail address below. Follow @Dan_Plunkett