Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 4.04.14 Same Old Song and Dance
Posted by Robert Winfree on 04.04.2014
News and thoughts on GSP's latest injury, the new main event for UFC 173 and Dan Henderson facing off against Daniel Cormier! Plus thoughts on the promotional efforts of the UFC lately, their repetitive product and more!
Hello everyone, nice to see you again, and thank you for clicking the link to my article and getting Locked in the Guillotine. While reading this, have a listen to some of the quality internet radio courtesy of the Radulich in Broadcasting network. There's something there for everyone, movies, sports, wrestling, MMA, and some random pop culture shows. You can find something that speaks to your personal tastes.
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Alright, let's get into what went down in the world of MMA this week.
GSP tears ACL: I consider this a bit of non-news as far as MMA goes since Georges St-Pierre took his sabbatical from the sport, but it does technically qualify. Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre tore his ACL while training last week. Now GSP wasn't specifically training for a return, just training because he enjoys it. That's commendable and a trait I personally wish I had, I could certainly be in better shape than I am, but this injury has further delayed his potential return. Now this wasn't the same knee he injured in 2011 but personally I feel this should cement his retirement. GSP took a hit when he returned from his first knee injury, his takedowns were obviously less explosive, his athleticism was diminished by the injury and with this second serious knee injury I would personally advise GSP to stay retired. For an athlete that relies as much on his explosiveness and athleticism as St-Pierre does, this second serious knee injury should be the end for him. I hope he heals up and wish him well in the rest of his life, but at this point I'm perfectly OK with GSP staying out of the Octagon.
Barao and Dillashaw step up: Last week I talked about Chris Weidman injuring his knee and having to postpone his middleweight title defense against Lyoto Machida. The two were scheduled to main event UFC 173, their fight has been pushed back to UFC 175. UFC 173 was left without a main event, and it was unlikely the co-main event of former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos taking on Stipe Miocic would be promoted to the main event. Well UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao will be defending his title against TJ Dillashaw in the main event of UFC 173. I speculated that either flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson would be defending his title, or Renan Barao would defend the bantamweight strap, and Barao got that call. Now the nominal number one contender isn't TJ Dillashaw, it's Raphael Assuncao, but Assuncao still has an injured rib from his last fight and was unable to make the date. Dillashaw is on a decent run and if you couldn't get Assuncao he's likely the best candidate. I don't think Dillashaw has much of a chance against Barao, but the only guy who I think might give Barao a run for his money is Dominick Cruz. Now the buyrate wont be what it was when Weidman and Machida were set to fight, but as a main event of a PPV you need a big deal fight, be it a title fight or fighting for a shot at the belt, but you need a big fight like that and much as I enjoy Junior dos Santos, him and Stipe Miocic isn't a main event fight in this day and age. The event will be lucky to crack 300k buys, but that's becoming par for the course.
Cormier and Henderson will meet: OK, so I joked around on the 411 Ground and Pound radio show a couple of weeks ago that if Dan Henderson wanted a title shot he'd have to go through someone like Daniel Cormier and that fight borders on senior abuse. Well it seems people were listening because Henderson and Cormier are currently scheduled to fight at UFC 175. I don't think Henderson has much of a chance, outside of a big right hand. Cormier is younger, though ironically not as much as you might think, faster, stronger, a better wrestler, and on the upside of his career while Henderson is nearing the end. I'm not sure how I feel about this fight, Henderson very likely wants another shot at the title before he hangs up his gloves, but Daniel Cormier is more than likely going to smash Henderson into retirement. As a co-main event to the middleweight title fight between champion Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida it's a solid fight, but Henderson has very little real chance of winning this one.
If you read this column last week, and thank you very much if you did, you read my views on fighters who don't take the opportunities to promote themselves and to make the viewers care about them. Tonight I want to look at the other side of the equation, the UFC and how it promotes the fighters and fights. The UFC, at this point in time, isn't promoting fighters. The UFC isn't promoting fights. The UFC is promoting the UFC.
Let that sink in for a moment.
The promotion is, right now, not really in the business of promoting specific fighters or even necessarily making a big deal about some fights. The UFC prefers to promote itself over the fighters or the fights. This is very similar to the model that World Wrestling Entertainment has kind of adopted over the last few years, they make an effort to promote and sell their brand instead of individual wrestlers. The letters W-W-E draw money, the performers are, from a standpoint of generating interest or drawing money, secondary. The UFC is positioning itself in a similar fashion, specific fighters are secondary to the overall promotion itself. Now this is somewhat understandable, logically it minimizes risk and dependance on specific fighters, unfortunately it's not generating interest or money. The biggest name and draw the UFC has right now is, somewhat arguably, their women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Rousey's latest PPV that she headlined did about 340k buys. There was a time not too long ago that 340k buys was not a good number. Now I talked last week about fighters not taking opportunities to become memorable, but there is another side of the coin, and that's the UFC choosing to become a homogenized and repetitive product. Remember when a UFC event was something to be excited? How about when television products like Countdown or UFC Primetime were something to be excited about and look forward too? Now it just feels like everything the UFC does is recycled and the same thing. Every event is the same thing, same music, same sound, similar fights, same color schemes and visual style, it's just so repetitive, and as Stephen King noted we all know that Hell is repetition. Mark Radulich has joked that he thinks UFC commentator Joe Rogan has his mind erased after each broadcast, and what has surprised me lately is that he says so much of the same thing from event to event. There is nothing different or distinguishing about each event, every event looks the same as every other event. Say what you will about WWE, but at least they give each show a distinct visual style, the UFC looks the same.
The reality is that the UFC doesn't promote its fighters very well, it doesn't like fighters who don't have a highlight reel that syncs up with "Face the Pain" (all credit to Dustin James for that line) despite that not being necessarily the style that is drawing money. The UFC hasn't been putting a lot of effort towards making their fighters a big deal, Jon Jones should be a big deal, Renan Barao is on a massive win streak and has been wrecking guys left and right, Jose Aldo has one of the most impressive highlight reels of all time. These are guys who should be a big deal, and correspondingly should be making the UFC a lot of money, but aren't. The biggest draw the sport has ever seen, Georges St-Pierre, didn't have a great highlight reel along the lines of other fighters but he was the best, and people will pay money to see the best fighter in the world fight. Floyd Mayweather Jr. isn't the most exciting fighter, but he is the best and that combined with his personality make people want to see him perform. The UFC needs to help promote their fighters, no matter their strengths or weaknesses, these are the guys out there fighting and making money for the promotion, and the UFC isn't doing enough to make the fighters seem like a big deal. I've taken the fighters to task for not taking the initiative, but the UFC isn't necessarily doing them any favors right now either.
Alright guys and gals, that's gonna do it for this week. The 411 Ground and Pound radio show is live this Sunday at 9pm eastern and will be previewing the upcoming Fight Night card with Roy Nelson taking on Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira in the main event. Feel free to call in if you've got thoughts on the card. I'll be back next week with a preview of that card, so until then you've escaped the Guillotine, so until next week keep your heads up and your necks safe.