UFC 214 was supposed to be a success, and it was. Right now, the evidence is suggesting that it is surpassing all of our expectations. UFC 214 featured Jones’ return to glory, Woodley’s (albeit underwhelming) defence of the UFC welterweight title and another devastating finish for the female ‘GOAT’ Cris Cyborg all came together for an exciting night. So, what made this card so different to the previous and less successful cards?
There was no real “money” fight and every fight on the main was relevant. For me, the answer lied in the UFC’s past. You see in the early years starting around the early 2000’s. The model was not intended to push fighters or even promote them. It was all about fights. They would build the fight up and thus have fans clamouring not for one particular fighter but more for the actual fight itself. Another thing the UFC would do which is not too common in the modern era is stacking cards. By filling a card with ten or more reputable fighters that everyone would know, it creates a certain excitement from top to bottom.
Stacking the cards
Back to UFC 214, the main event was so successful based on the fact that the fight had been brewing for the last two years. Of course, Jones’ name was big and Daniel Cormier had grown to be a very dominant champion in his own right. This was a relevant fight that was two years past its due and it had the fans mouths watering. We didn’t have one superstar (a la Conor Mcgregor) steal the show, no, this was a contest that was made purely down to the fight itself. UFC 214 was also stacked top to bottom, from Oezdemir vs Manuwa to Jones vs Cormier, every fight had a big name and thus at least got us to view from the start. UFC 214 felt like a throwback to simpler times, but with the hype train and budget of today’s era.
Super fights and big names
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the money era. Where one fighter can call all the shots and a whole card can be built on him or her alone. I speak mainly about Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. These two and their management teams understand the word promotion. They understood the importance and power of promotion and strived to keep that power in their own hands. Now you have Ronda Rousey still being the most talked about female fighter despite the fact she has been defeated brutally in her last two fights and halfway retired. The “Notorious” Conor McGregor is about to embark on the biggest money fight of them all; a boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
The fact is that there are fans that still clamour for relevant stacked cards with “real” title implications and then there are fans that just want to see huge names compete inside the octagon despite where they are or who they are fighting within the sport. There are even those, like me, who would clamour to see both. The reality is that the UFC a business that wants to make a profit and they will do what is needed to get the most viewers. They have always been that way, even under ZUFFA, and maybe there was a time for the old model and possibly in the future, it will return. I am excited to watch and see what the future holds however because both of these approaches have their positives. One intensifies the hardcore fans focus on the sport while the other brings new eyes in and shows them what MMA is about. We can’t complain about either, can we?
Money fights or contender fights? What do you prefer?
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