Wednesday, February 25, 2009

UFC 99 Slipping Away

UFC 99 started out with the ridiculous rumor it would be headlined by Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture. My crap detector immediately kicked in when I heard that one. My main point was it makes little sense to hold a tape delayed main event of such magnitude. It would cost the UFC and the fighters millions (Couture and Liddell get a portion of PPV buys).

The latest casualty of the German card is BJ Penn. He was rumored to defend the Lightweight Title against Kenny Florian, but now claims he wants to spend time with his family. Some have suggested it's simply a matter of money. Think about it from Penn's standpoint. He's coming off headlining the most watched UFC PPV in history. Why would he want to fight on a tape-delay PPV which will do 250-400k buys? It does not make economic sense. There is also the insane travel time he would deal with getting from Hawaii to Germany.

With Penn/Florian off, the UFC is left without too many choices. Most of their biggest names are booked too close to the event to make them viable headliners. One option would be to make Franklin/Silva the main event, which would not be a stretch. Both have international name recognition and the fight would draw viewers.

Another option would be to match up Forrest Griffin with either Rampage Jackson or Keith Jardine. If Rampage wins at UFC 96, he is getting Rashad Evans at UFC 100. If he loses, a fight with Griffin makes sense. Even if Rampage wins, the UFC might still turn to Griffin. Matching him with Jardine would work too.

The larger point is the UFC must find ways to make fighting on international cards more appealing to their biggest stars. They cannot keep watering down events with "co-main events" like Dan Hardy vs Rory Markham.

No comments: