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A lot of questions will be answered this week amongst the Top 3 US MMA promotions

By Zach Arnold | February 28, 2011

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This Thursday is UFC’s third Fight Night-style show on Versus. View the card for the Louisville event. The word going into the show is that the advance is not off-the-charts. For one reason or another, the UFC shows on Versus haven’t been big ratings getters. That said, I like the card for this show and it is solid. No complaints. I’m hoping for a lot of finishes so that we can get to see a healthy amount of the undercard fights.

The show also has some weird momentum going in, given what happened on Saturday night in Australia. For a “B-show,” there’s sure been a lot of broad media discussion about it (for better or for worse). The Michael Bisping spitting incident has garnered quite a reaction, most of it negative on the sport. The problem Dana White finds himself in is that he needs to dole out punishment but he can’t come off looking like a hypocrite given his past actions. So, he has to walk that fine line and come up with a suitable punishment. Maybe he can make him watch all of Jon Fitch’s wins in the UFC. I’m joking. I say that because the other story coming out of Saturday’s show is just the level of disgust and venom that I’ve seen leveled towards Fitch is amazing. He’s hit this weird combination where the BJ Penn fans (who are very vocal) thought that Penn won the fight and then you have the Fitch critics who wish he would just get cut already. You mix it in with the fact that it was ruled a draw and it’s created this reaction amongst both casual and hardcore fans of angst and anger against Fitch. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing for his career.

On Saturday, Strikeforce heads into The Arnold Classic weekend (my kind of holiday) that UFC/WEC used to try to play off of in Ohio’s capital. What was supposed to be a card highlighted by Dan Henderson’s big name value is now a show that has lots of questions heading into the event. Most of those questions have to do with the mystery regarding the promotion’s April event and the future of the Heavyweight GP. Plus, Paul Daley missed weight last weekend and after his win over Yuya Shirai, he was supposed to fight Nick Diaz on April 9th for a show rumored to be at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Now, it’s uncertain if Daley will take the fight with the short amount of time in-between fights. The truth is that if the rest of round one for the GP fights are delayed, then the four fighters involved (Overeem, Barnett, Rogers, and Werdum) should be paid a penalty fee from the promotion for this chaos. And that should just be a starting point.

(On a side note, here’s Dave Meltzer saying that UFC & Strikeforce should be considered two different sports.)

As for Saturday’s Showtime event. on paper it looks plenty intriguing.

March 5th (Saturday/Showtime) at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio

Dark matches (no TV)

Main card

Competing against this event on Saturday (and future UFC PPVs & Spike TV events) is Bellator, which will be making its debut on MTV2. The promotion has signed some interesting names from other circuits and at least they have going for them the fact that they were able to bring Jimmy Smith back into the fold to keep a good commentating duo together.

March 5th (Saturday/MTV2) at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California

Time will tell if enough MMA fans will watch the Bellator show, given that it’s on the MTV2 platform (a channel not everyone gets) and the fact that they are running on Saturday nights. Saturday nights are what people are accustomed to in terms of watching UFC events, but Bellator will always be an ‘option B’ in the eyes of fans. The road is long and difficult.

Topics: All Topics, Bellator, Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 28 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

28 Responses to “A lot of questions will be answered this week amongst the Top 3 US MMA promotions”

  1. edub says:

    The bellator card is pretty good. You have to wonder how long they will stay relevant airing shows on Saturday night though.

  2. Russ says:

    I agree, the Bellator card looks pretty good. The strikeforce card on the other hand looks awful to me. I don’t see why you find it so intriguing Zach.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      It will be a real test for Feijao to see how he fares with the kind of wrestling Dan brings to the table. I think it has the potential to be a great chess match (proverbially speaking).

      Tim Kennedy vs. Melvin Manhoef, all things considered, will be fun while it lasts. Melvin wasn’t his original scheduled opponent, but I’m sure Tim is happy to take the booking against this kind of fighter.

      Masvidal/Evangelista should also be a fun fight to watch.

      Do I hate the fact that Showtime won’t air prelims during main card shows? Yeah, I think it’s a lousy policy. It does detract from the shows, but to each their own as far as viewpoint goes.

      • Steve4192 says:

        I’m really looking forward to Feijao-Hendo and Evangelista-Masvidal. Feijao-Hendo to see whether Feijao is a legit top-10 guy or whether he will drop the belt like the last three guys who won it. Evangelista-Masvidal to see how Billy deals with the step up in competition.

        Kennedy-Manhoef does nothing for me since Manhoef is completely shot. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kennedy knocks him out standing. After watching Tatsuya Mizuno, a guy that was brutalized in uder a minute by the dessicated corpse of Cro Cop, beat him from pillar to post, I lost all faith in the Dutchman.

        The chick fight is just another useless chick fight. I respect the dedication and commitment of the women who compete, but that doesn’t mean I have any desire to watch them. I care about as much about women’s MMA as I do about women’s basketball. Throw in the fact that this a one-sided squash match and it becomes even less interesting.

    • Steve4192 says:

      The top three fights on that Bellator card are interesting as hell. Hawn-Wallhead will be a Judopalooza, Hornbuckle-Weedman is a great stylistic matchup between two solid veterans, and Good-Lozano is a great prospect fight. The only fight that looks non-competitive is Hieron-Lapsley.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I’m more interested in Bellator on Saturday then SF.

        I like how they are finally putting the entire tournament on one card. Much easier way to follow.

        But their time slot could be the death of them.

        I know they can change times when against competition but all that means is that the casual fans will have a harder time following them.

        Not ideal to say the least….

        • Steve4192 says:

          What is their time slot?

          They have talked about their shows being over before the UFC/Strikeforce shows begin. If their plan is to be off the air before the UFC prelims start, they should do OK. If their plan is to be off the air when the PPV starts, I suspect their ratings will tank during the overlap with the UFC prelims.

          Another question is even if there is no overlap, will people burn out on watching four to six hours of MMA on Saturday nights? I’m definitely going to give them a shot, but I suspect my interest will wane as the season goes on. That is a lot of MMA to take in on one day. I’ll probably wind up DVRing Bellator and watching it during the week.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          I’m on the east coast….

          Bellator is on from 9pm to 11pm this weekend.

          That is head to head with any UFC Prelim/PPV show. And against free UFC Saturday shows it would still be head to head. Those shows typically start at 9pm.

          And with SF, they are going head to head during the last hour.

          And if they switchtheir time slot fans will easily get confused and start to lose interest. With how many shows SF and UFC put on during these times, this is probably the worst time slot possible.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    1) Penn fans are always beyond bitter and full of excuses when their fighter loses.

    2) I expect this Versus card to do better in the ratings then the past. Sanchez is somewhat if a draw to casual fans. Much more then Jon Jones was when he was headlining these cards.

    3) All Bellator is going to do is fraction the viewership on Saturdays even mire which won’t always help them. I’m still waiting to see what the production looks like MTV has a very unique style. It will be interesting to see if any changes happen.

    4) The first challenger show since the Fedor show had nonincrease in ratings. If this show goes back to SF’s normal ratings then it will seem like all momentum is gone. Should be interesting. It’s really a one fight card to me. Nothing else is interesting at all.

    • The Gaijin says:

      I don’t really think a Challengers show is a meaningful measure of “momentum” from the tourney, after all you still have to give people a reason to watch and that card was for the most hardcore of fans only.

      The best measure will be the back half of the first round of the GP and the next best will be the card this weekend. I have a sneaking suspicion that they’ll be in the 400-450k range…actually probably not even that high. I think it will be like most cards following a Walker/Carano card and they won’t be able to sustain their momentum, and based on the online barometer more people seem to care about the outside the cage problems that the fights themselves.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Dave Meltzer is 100% right in his discussion about the UFC and SF. Ive been making basically the same point about rankings for a while. It makes no sense to have these universal rankings.

    • Steve4192 says:

      Forget about Strikeforce, I’ve been saying the same thing about cross-promotional rankings since the salad days of PRIDE. It was silly in 2005 and it is still silly.

      Back then it was guys like Arlovski & Sylvia benefiting from the halo effect of holding an organizational belt (despite the fact that they were no better than the mid-level Pride HWs). Today it is guys like Mousasi, King Mo, and Feijao who automatically enter the rankings as soon as they procure a meaningless piece of hardware. Cross-promotional rankings are useless.

  5. bluerosekiller says:

    While Melzer usually makes some good points, on this he’s WAY off base IMO.
    It’s STILL MMA.
    Just like the NFL & the CFL & the Arena League are all professional football.
    Sure they all have different rules & operate under different conditions, but they’re still basically the same sport. And their athletes can & do move from one to the other with varying levels of success.

    • Steve4192 says:


      But he is mostly talking about rankings here, and you never see anyone include CFL/AFL guys on lists of the best players in the game. Even a guy like Warren Moon had to come to the NFL before anyone recognized his greatness.

      • mr. roadblock says:

        Exactly. Would you say Jason and the Argonauts or whomever wins the CFL Grey Cup is automatically the #2 or #3 or #5 football team in the world? You would be out of your mind if you did.

        The best team in the CFL would be hard pressed to keep a game within two touchdowns against the worst NFL team.

        The disparity between SF and UFC isn’t as great as the CFL and NFL, but it is still vast.

        • JRN says:

          The disparity in terms of general depth of talent is vast; that doesn’t mean that the disparity between any particular pair of fighters is vast. Strikeforce may be the B-league, but not all of its fighters are B-level.

          Team sports are really a terrible source of analogies for MMA.

        • Precious says:

          if you realize the depth of talent is vast how on earth can you rank certain fighters who compete in a kiddy pool with fighters who are swiming with sharks in the deep end?

          To give you an example Big Foots last fight was against a journeman 205lber. How on earth can he be compared to guys like carwin, cain, brock, mir, or even roy nelson?

          When you’re competing in a more competitive environment the stakes and sport is different by magnitudes.

          Look how Gegard has been fighting after losing to an unproven guy in King MO. He’s been fighting nobodies and his opponents were given like 10 days notice while he had full training camps.

          Gilbert has fought once in the past year and look at aoki’s opponents inbetween fighting milendez. It’s a complete joke.

  6. Zack says:


  7. 45 Huddle says:

    714,000 for prelims on ION for UFC 127. Which once again shows how bad that channel is. Certainly not a good fit for MMA. But it’s better then no prelims at all ….. If there is any silver lining at all.

    It makes the Versus ratings that much more interesting. If they can’t pull big numbers on there…. Then it shows the UFC is just as dependent of SpikeTV as SpikeTV is of the UFC.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Spike TV is available in basically the exact same amount of homes as Ion (~98 million), regardless of Ion being a ‘network’ for whatever that’s worth these days if you are not CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox.

      Frankly the demos and audience for SpikeTV are just so much more favorable than Ion…which I’m sure most people barely know how to find and had to scramble to figure out where it was when they heard prelims were on Ion. In terms of viewership, I think their numbers are up for that time, but it’s probably a much bigger function of people migrating over there b/c UFC was on than enticing a greater number from the viewership base that exists for the network (and I doubt those viewers stick around to watch other Ion programming). And Ion isn’t going to be a 24/7 informercial for the UFC and related types of programming.

  8. EJ says:

    People always seem to get fooled by the availability numbers when in reality just because 2 cable channels are available to the same number of people. It doesn’t mean the audience for each channel is even in the same league. Spike TV is one of the best known B cable channels thanks to ECW and then WWE so when The UFC went there is was the perfect combination of brand and channel coming together.

    Versus is a C league channel that is a step below Spike, it’s not going to get the same ratings they will always be a step below and that’s fine because for them the UFC gives them a sizeable bump over everything else they have in the key demo’s.

    Ion isn’t even on the radar as a channel, whatever the UFC does on there is gravy and it’s just another deal Dana can add to get more eyeballs on the product.

    For people to look at the ratings for each channel and try and compare them is silly and a waste because it’s not an even playing field. 700k plus for a card that wasn’t as hyped and didn’t have a title fight is actually pretty good.

    Also I just read a press release that ION TV put out hyping up their record ratings for January. Now I don’t think that’s a coincidence, that it happened just after they got the UFC prelims deal done.

  9. edub says:

    Hahahahahaahahahahah the next leg of the SF HW tourney is being held in Texas (the same state that sanctioned Margarito when he fought Pacman even after California upheld his suspension)! Of course, it makes so much sense.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      So they bet it all on Japan.

      It is shocking that Coker could be that ba of a promoter to bank it all on a failing market. And it shows how little the people at SHO know about MMA to hea that idea pitched and saying okay to it.

      Another problem I see is Diaz/Daley. They are putting on their best WW fight probably for the previous and next year (so 2 year time period)….. And they are doing it on a 5 weeks notice. Way to maximize the potential of that fight….

  10. JRN says:

    Precious says:
    March 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm
    if you realize the depth of talent is vast how on earth can you rank certain fighters who compete in a kiddy pool with fighters who are swiming with sharks in the deep end?

    As I said above, Strikeforce is a B-league, but not all their fighters are B-level. By the same token, the UFC is the A-league, but not all its fighters are A-level.

    Fighters by and large get ranked by beating A-level fighters (or fading former A-level fighters). If Strikeforce has any of those–and they do–then some of their fighters will get ranked.

    By the same token, if the UFC has some B-level fighters–and they do–it will be possible to win some fights in the UFC without deserving to be ranked very high. Zhang Tie Quan is not “swimming with the sharks” fighting Jason Reinhardt. Anthony Perosh is not “swimming with the sharks” fighting Tom Blackledge (nor vice versa). I could go on.

    You’ve got to think about it on a fight-by-fight basis.

  11. […] A lot of questions will be answered this week amongst the Top 3 US MMA promotions | […]

  12. bluerosekiller says:

    To give you an example Big Foots last fight was against a journeman 205lber. How on earth can he be compared to guys like carwin, cain, brock, mir, or even roy nelson?

    Um, Kyle is a former UFC heavyweight.

    Sat what you will about him, but for a cruiserweight, he packs some VERY legit power.

    • JRN says:

      More to the point: I don’t think anyone compares Bigfoot to the UFC heavies on the basis of his win over Mike Kyle. But he’s beaten people besides Mike Kyle. Like Fedor Emelianenko, for example.

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