Should The UFC Do More Free Numbered Cards Like UFC 267?

Latest UFC rankings update: Glover Teixeira takes over No. 1 spot, Yan  Xiaonan climbs to No. 3 - MMAmania.com
New Light Heavyweight Champion Glover Teixeira. Photo courtesy of Zuffa llc.

UFC 267 was truly special! Two title fights, a stacked card, and it was free to US ESPN+ subscribers. The UFC outdid itself with these fights. Absolutely amazing we got this reward for being fans of this sport. They definitely didn’t need to do it, but they did and it was great. This was the first free numbered event the UFC had put on since UFC 138: Leben vs. Muñoz all the way back in November of  2011. This makes one think about if the UFC should put on more free cards especially cards with title fights with the hopes of exposing more top level fighters to the masses?

One argument for more free cards is Exposure. The UFC has a major deal with ESPN and broadcasting a free numbered card once a year would be awesome especially with the idea of title fights being on the card. One Card I definitely thought could have been free was August’s UFC 265: Lewis vs. Gane. This would have been an awesome card to give to subscribers for free. As it was an interim title fight it would’ve peaked interest in the Unification bout with current Champion Francis Ngannou with ultimately an opportunity to sell more PPV’s as Ciryl Gane is a relatively unknown fighter who’s only been fighting MMA for three years.

MMA is a new sport most baby boomers don’t even know exists. There’s no Mickey Mantle or Carl Yazstremski for them in MMA that they grew up with. They may know some Martial arts practitioners like Bruce Lee are and they may know who Conor McGregor is because his face was everywhere after his boxing debut against Floyd Maywether. It’d be great to get that older generation into the sport by showing more amazing title fights for free, because live MMA is something else it hits differently. 

The answer is truly complicated as the fight game is not a game.  It’s a business, and fighters need to get paid and The UFC and Zuffa need to take their cut. One of the hot button issues with MMA is fighter pay. The fighters who stay active make a lot of money,  and the UFC knows this and they need to take its cut. This is why they started off on the PPV model, and how they have stayed relevant with these amazing cards that they have put on with some of the best fighters in the world. It is important to make money but a nice treat for fans to get exposure to some of these higher profile fights.

UFC 267 was a gift from the fight gods, we got to see some amazing performances from these fighters. Hopefully it won’t be another 10 years before the UFC offers another free numbered event as it would definitely bring more exposure to these amazing fighters that we all know and love.

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UFC 267 Preview

UFC 259: Blachowicz v Adesanya
Reigning Light Heavyweight Champion Polish powerhouse house Jan Blachowicz Photo Courtesy of Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

UFC 267 is fast approaching, the UFC numbered event will be the first free card offered to United States based ESPN+ subscribers. UFC 267 will also be the first card to be not on Pay Per View since UFC 139 in 2011. And this card is stacked and the price is right with two title fights and three, three round bouts. 

The first bout of note will be between Lightweight’s Islam Makachev and Dan Hooker. Number five ranked UFC Lightweight Makachev was set to face Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 26, but former Lightweight Champion Dos Anjos has been forced to pull out of the fight due to injury. On Thursday September 30th Dana White announced that number six ranked UFC Lightweight Dan Hooker would be stepping into fight Makachev. Both Makachev and Hooker are coming off victories in their last fights, with Makachev securing a victory against Thiago Moises by Submission (rear-naked choke.) Hooker pulled off an impressive victory at UFC 266 against Nasrat Haqparast. The win by decision was even more spectacular considering that Hooker had arrived in the country less than 48 hours before the fight

The first title fight that will take place at UFC 267 will be an interim title fight between number one ranked Bantamweight Petr Yan and number three ranked Bantamweight Corey Sandhagen. Yan is coming off a loss at UFC 259 in march where he lost his belt to Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling due to an Disqualification (illegal knee.) Yan who has only lost once before UFC 259 looks to win the interim title and hopefully win a unification bout against Aljamain Sterling to become the new UFC Bantamweight champion. Corey Sandhagen who took this fight short notice is coming off a loss to number 2 ranked Bantamweight, TJ Dillishaw.

The second title fight of the night will be between Light Heavyweight king Jan Błachowicz and number one ranked Light Heavyweight Glover Teixeira. Błachowicz is coming off his first successful title defense with a win over Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 259.   Błachowicz is of Polish descent and only the second Polish champion in the promotion’s history. Błachowicz will be facing a tough Teixeira who has won his last five fights. This will be Teixeira’s second title shot. Tiexiera’s first title shot was against Jon Jones who won via unanimous  Decision at UFC 172 in April of 2014. It’s sure to be a great fight between these two MMA veterans. 

This UFC card is absolutely stacked and the price is right with two title fights and three, three round bouts how could you go wrong. Tune in live on ESPN+ on October 30th at 2pm. 

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Why Are Dana White’s Contender Series and The Ultimate Fighter Important To The Sport of MMA?

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18: (R-L) Sean O'Malley punches Alfred Khashakyan in their bantamweight bout during Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series at the TUF Gym on July 18, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/DWTNCS)

Why are Dana White’s Contender Series and The Ultimate Fighter important to the sport of MMA? Well, the answer is quite complicated and simple at the same time. The UFC was struggling at certain points of the organization’s early history. First off it wasn’t in the mainstream, and due to the PPV model wasn’t free. The Ultimate Fighter started as a gamble and that gamble paid off. It literally launched the UFC into the stratosphere by putting fights on to peoples TV every week in an easily digestible format called, reality TV. 

During the Ultimate Fighter, fighters would live together in a house, and fights would happen every week. People were already enjoying the show, but no one really knew how much the gamble would pay off until the live finale of season one. The finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar is said to be one of the most influential fights in the young organization’s history. UFC president Dana White, signed a deal to renew The Ultimate Fighter series in an alley behind the Las Vegas arena where the fight took place, as it was such a landmark moment in the organization’s history with ratings off the chart.

Along with the fun coaches challenges and other games played. The audience got to really see how these fighters were actually world class athletes and not just brawlers. One of the main ways the show did this was by showing the fighters training and the coaches working with the fighters of each season.  In a time before Instagram and instagram stories where you can watch your favorite MMA fighters train in the gym at your leisure. It solidified to the viewer the athletic prowess of the UFC fighter.

Since then we’ve seen so many careers launched off of the series including future champions Michael Bisping, Rose Namajunas, and Kamaru Usman.  Stockton’s own Nate Diaz also got his start on the show. Most Recently we saw Bryan Battle and Ricky Turcios win the show in its latest installment in their respective divisions.

Dana White’s Contender series being the younger of the two show’s came at a different time in the sport’s history. The show which premiered as Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series on UFC Fight Pass in July 2017 features multiple weekly fights where fresh faced MMA fighters face each other in three round bouts in hopes to win a contract from Dana White and the UFC. The show which is in its fifth season and now on ESPN+ started on Tuesday August 31st and it is off to a good start with multiple contracts handed out.

Most notably the contender series launched the career of Bantamweight Sean O’Malley who has been launched into super stardom in the fight world after his season one appearance on the show.

These two shows let MMA fans that there’s always a fresh crop of young fighters ready to come up much like how minor league baseball or college football work. Giving the MMA fan a preview of tomorrow’s stars, and watching these young men and women’s dreams and aspirations come to life . 

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