THE UFC KO’S FIGHT NIGHT MANILA BUT DID ANYBODY CARE?
So, Hall of Famer BJ Penn’s rib injury, has again delayed his return from ‘retirement’ and in a rare but not unprecedented move, the UFC decided to cancel the entire Fight Night 97 Manila card, that ‘The Prodigy’ was set to headline against Ricardo Lamas, as a result. When the penny finally dropped, a lot of UFC fans expressed their disappointment, but at the realization that they’d now face an entire month without a single UFC event to feed their addiction. Yet few fans actually conveyed any concern about the loss of this card specifically, or not getting to watch any of the match ups on it this weekend?
See, I’ve got a couple of theories about this:
Given the sheer number of UFC events per year, multiplied by the ever increasing number of high level MMA shows on offer from other promotions, the vast wealth of choice that exists nowadays: affords the fans a certain level of apathy towards some of the proposed cards that are scheduled.
I’d even go as far as to claim, the further that the UFC travels east, away from the States to host an event, the less interest it tends to capture from its American audience, who has always been, the dominant bread and butter foundation for the business side of the organisation.
(SIDENOTE: The constant exception to this rule tends to be the Australasian cards, that always achieve a certain level of buzz, with the Aussie and Kiwi fighters having well-earned the respect of fans worldwide).
So Manila might not have been the strongest card in terms of being stacked with the most well known, popular fighters, but even if I just focus on the American talent on it: I was looking forward to seeing ‘The Black Beast’, Cole Miller, ‘Smiling’ Sam and ‘Moonwalker’ Moontasri step into the octagon once again. More importantly though, personally, I was ready to watch some of the current wave of Asian fighters on the UFC roster and see how the stand outs from equivalent UFC talent spotting shows, like ‘TUF China’ and ‘Road to UFC: Japan’, performed on the night. More specifically, win, lose or draw, Seo Hee Ham is an exciting Women’s Strawweight stand out who always turns up to fight, and I think people have forgotten that Kyoji Horiguchi was literally 1 second away from going the distance with the current P4P best, Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson, last year.
Yet fans, on the whole, couldn’t seem to have cared less about the event being pulled and are instead already looking ahead to the undisputedly incredible, landmark UFC205 card at Madison Square Garden next month.
… But equally somewhat overlooking the TUF Latin America 3 Finale happening the week before 205, headlined by the fascinating, potential Lightweight Title Eliminator, RDA vs ‘El Cucuy’.
Anyway, the UFC has promised to compensate the fighters involved and reschedule the Manila event, though it’s more than likely that the individual fights will simply end up being dispersed throughout the other remaining UFC events this year.
Just from my point of view though, the cancellation was a shame. I enjoy watching these less appreciated cards, to gage the level of talent the UFC has to offer worldwide, rather than simply focusing on the (normally English-speaking) talent that the promotion chooses to build up with its effective media bursts. Whether or not I have heard of a fighter before, or they are yet to make a solid impression in the UFC to date, they have still earned their contract to fight in the world’s leading MMA promotion, that is home to the elite of the sport.
And that alone, is enough for me to give them all up to 15 minutes of my time, at every event, to see what they can bring to the overall competition of the UFC after the octagon door closes that night. But that’s just me.
Though I choose to look at it this way, foremost as a fan of MMA more so than anything else.