Updated: Jan 10, 2019
The UFC recently released their tentative fight card for UFC 231 at Soctiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. I was more than displeased with the entire card from top to bottom. It'll be nearly two years between UFC 206 (the last UFC event in Toronto) and UFC 231, and the fight card has gone nowhere but down.
This seems to be a reoccurring theme in the UFC nowadays, with fight cards taking a serious hit from top to bottom. Most cards are turning into one fight events, with a bunch of nothing fights to keep people busy until the main event. You don't have to look any further than UFC 229 McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov to have me proven right on that comment.
Yes, the UFC is making more money than they ever have, and the market is still going to be there for big time fights; but as a real fight fan, these cards are getting worse and worse to sit around and watch for three to four hours at a time.
Don't believe me? take a look at the current card.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
Eryk Anders vs. Elias Theodorou
Claudia Gadelha vs. Nina Ansaroff
Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (Try typing that after a few beers)
Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega
Name me one star in this card... I'll wait.
Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to watch Joanna throw down, and if it were an actual title fight where they weren't forced into making it happen, it might make me care a little more. But come on, Joanna (who had previously lost two straight before a win against 10-3 Tecia Torres), is being headlined as a co-main event fighter?
Give me a fight that actually means something. Give me an absolute slugfest between two absolute monsters as a co-main. Push a nothing fight between Joanna and Shevchenko back to a middle of the card where everyone will enjoy it.
I can't even just hate on the Joanna, Shevchenko decision; the other part of that co-main is no better at all. Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega..... okay. I get that it's probably going to be a decent fight, and it's an actual title fight between to great fighters. But Max Holloway? Again?
I was at UFC 206 (which was also a big let down), along with most Toronto UFC fans. A good chunk of these fans are probably thinking about coming to this event as well. How does Dana White entice them? WITH THE SAME DAMN MAIN EVENT FIGHTER!
Sure, Max Holloway is a champion, but to have him fighting here again, when there are so many available superstars on this roster makes no sense. I get it if we were getting a rematch from the last time he fought here, but that card was almost as bad as this one.
Emil Meek def. Jordan Mein (Dec.)
Kelvin Gastelum def. Tim Kennedy (KO/TKO)
Cub Swanson def. Doo-Ho Choi (Dec.)
Donald Cerrone def. Matt Brown (KO/TKO)
Max Holloway def. Anthony Pettis (KO/TKO)
Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy
Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson
So this one is tough. If you don't lose the DC and Anthony Johnson fight then this would've been a great base of a main card. Couple that with a legend (and personal favorite) in Rashad Evans, and it would've been a fun card to look forward to.
But that isn't how it went down. DC got hurt, forcing Holloway and Pettis into an interim title fight. To top everything off, Pettis missed weight and the fight basically meant nothing.
It's easy to complain about the rest of the card, but at least they had some good names on the card. Donald "cowboy" Cerrone is always a fan favorite, and is down to fight anyone at any time. That's a name you want to have in the middle of your card. Doo-Ho Choi vs. Cub Swanson wasn't much of a big name fight leading into the event, but man did it turn into one hell of a fight. Three rounds of no regard for human life, both fighters throwing haymakers until there was no one standing. The final outcome went to decision, but there were numerous times when you thought both of these fighters were within seconds of sleeping.
Before, and after that, the night was kind of a snooze fest, and rightfully so. There wasn't a fight that I was really looking forward to on the entire card. It was essentially a bunch of filler fights featuring a handful of Canadians trying to make a name for themselves.
On top of all of this, there are four fighters from this card that are fighting on the 231 card (John Makdessi, Matthew Lopez, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, and Max Holloway.) That's four fights featuring someone I've already seen. Four fights that are going to look relatively similar to the boring card that was UFC 206.
Flashback to April 30th, 2011, UFC 129. The first UFC event in Toronto, and hands down the craziest card we've ever seen here. Take a look at just a handful of names that were feature on this card.
Jake Ellenberger def. Sean Pierson (KO/TKO)
Rory MacDonald def. Nate Diaz (Dec.)
Benson Henderson def. Mark Bocek (Dec.)
Vladimir Matushenko def. Jason Brilz (KO/TKO)
Lyoto Machida def. Randy Couture (KO/TKO)
Jose Aldo def. Mark Hominick (Dec.)
GSP def. Jake Shields (Dec.)
That's how deep a card should be. There are some UFC legends all the way across this card. GSP, Jose Aldo, Lyoto Machida, Randy Couture, names that UFC fans still talk about today as some of the best fighters the sport has seen. Top that off with what would be a future fight of the year winner in Rory Macdonald, fighting future McGregor opponent Nate Diaz early on in the main card, and you're already looking at a deep card.
So why don't we see cards like this anymore? Why cant we see epic battles from start to finish? The answer is honestly quite simple... There are way too many events in today's UFC.
It's tough to pack a fight card, when you're already forcing people to fight in four or five events per year, racking up nearly five or six a month for the whole organization. You lose those middle of the pack superstars to the smaller events, and in turn, have no one left to fight on the main card of your big events.
I understand the financial pull that this move has. More events, more money in Dana's pocket; but, is this really the greatest plan for Dana White and the UFC long term? As a true fight fan, why am I going to continue to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars to go see a bunch of minor league fights, leading up to one big event?
Essentially, the UFC is running off of supply and demand right now. Why does everyone pay so much for one single event? Because they have almost no other options. It won't be too long before a company like Bellator steps in and brings fight fans great cards from top to bottom.
So sure, Dana White can relish in this moment, for now; but a few years down the road, don't be surprised if you see a wave of current fans taking off for a more entertaining night.