On paper, a non-title match between a debatable has-been and an MMA newcomer, should clearly not be the main event on a UFC pay-per-view card, especially if there will be a heavyweight title fight taking place that same night. However in situations like these, there exist certain extenuating circumstances which, for the UFC, means that they should switch out Nogueira-Sylvia for Mir-Lesnar as the main event come Saturday night. Simply put, I just don’t care as much about the outcome of the interim heavyweight bout, as I do about Mir vs. Lesnar. And I don’t think I am in the minority here either.
First, it’s a bogus “interim” bout, despite the fact that Mr. Couture will likely never set foot into the octagon again to defend his “title.” That means that whoever wins the Sylvia-Nogueira fight, will go on to face the underwhelming Fabricio Werdum. Well woo-hoo. It’s not that Werdum is a bad fighter by any means but let’s get real, the guy should not be getting a title shot at this point.
It’s just that the UFC has burned their heavyweight division so much that Werdum is all that emerges from the rubble. So Werdum beat Gabriel Gonzaga, and? He also lost to Andrei Arlovski at UFC 70 but guess what, because Arlovski hasn’t signed a new bout agreement with the UFC, his last fight in the organization is now officially against Jake O’Brien. Obviously, the UFC cannot promote a fighter to a title shot if they might not be with the organization in the future. As much as it pains me, I can understand the science of UFC fighter promotion, you just can’t sell a guy if he isn’t on your client list.
However the fact remains that the UFC should have the stones to admit that their main event is just not as anticipated as their non-title heavyweight fight. The UFC can ignore their own hype all they want, but the Mir-Lesnar match bridges fans from all areas of the fighting landscape. UFC 81 will no doubt have some professional wrestling fans watching MMA for the first time, as well as the more casual MMA enthusiast, so why don’t we give them a good show? Why give them the opportunity to tune out after the Mir-Lesnar bout, when you can make them wait until the end of the night? Who knows, maybe one of those fans will start watching MMA a little bit more, and become less concerned with who John Cena beat at the Royal Rumble last week.
To me, this sounds like Marketing 101, save your biggest attraction for last, make us wait for it. While big fans like myself will gladly watch the entire broadcast, the more casual viewer could easily tune out after Mir and Lesnar do battle. Why end the night with an unexciting bout which will leave the audience flat, when you can go out with a bang? Saving Mir-Lesnar for last leaves the fans wanting more of the UFC, instead of wanting less of Tim Sylvia.
As you can tell from above, I absolutely believe that Mir-Lesnar will be a more exciting fight to witness than Sylvia-Nogueira. Hands down, neither Big Tim or Big Nog are particularly exciting to watch, so I can only hope for a quick submission from Nogueira, or a first round knock out from Sylvia. Unfortunately, I think we all know what we are going to see come Saturday’s final showdown. A five round snore-fest, consisting of attempted takedowns by Nogueira until one finally gets Sylvia to the canvas where he either taps, or loses on points for having to defend on the ground all night. Then Nogueira (or maybe Sylvia) will get to fight Fabricio Werdum, and then we will finally have our tried and tested, UFC interim heavyweight champion…give me a break.
Another big reason Mir-Lesnar is more anticipated than Nogueira-Sylvia, is the fact that both Mir and Lesnar have a lot more to prove when they step into the octagon. We hardcore MMA fans are all too familiar with Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar need to make a statement on Saturday night. Even if he loses, Frank Mir needs to show that he can still compete and potentially wear the UFC strap once more. Unlike Brock Lesnar, who just needs to prove that he is the real deal. Though he brutalized his first MMA opponent, most fans still see Brock as a freak of nature with sub-par technical skills, and he will have to prove us wrong. Sylvia and Nogueira might be fighting for UFC gold tomorrow night, but Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir will be fighting for respect.
I suppose I am also still bitter at the UFC for UFC 78: The Worst Main Event Of All Time, which featured Rashad “over-hyped” Evans and Michael “decision stealer” Bisping. I felt all shades of duped when I paid to see that PPV and though there were smaller names on the card, I would have felt a lot less cheated if the Houston Alexander- Thiago Silva bout came at the end of my night instead of “Sugar” and “The Count.”
To be fair, I think the UFC is just playing the denial game which you have to play sometimes in this business. Once again, they know that their main event isn’t as luring as their should-be main event, but they can’t admit it because that just wouldn’t be professional. So it’s sort of an unspoken understanding we fans have with the UFC. While I’m sure that my suggestion for a main event switch around would fall on deaf ears if pitched to Dana White, deep down, he knows that he’s not selling us UFC 81: Breaking Point, he’s selling UFC 81: Mir vs. Lesnar.