The UFC puts on a lot of interesting events.
On a personal level, I'd say that I genuinely look forward to roughly 85 percent of all television or pay-per-view fight cards. There are plenty of times when fans will scoff at upcoming cards before they ever happen, and those maligned cards—often featuring unknown fighters—almost always deliver above expectations.
Almost all of that can be attributed to the UFC's grand duo of matchmakers, Joe Silva and Sean Shelby. Their knowledge and understanding of the technical aspects of the fight game is nearly without equal. Both men are adept at making something out of nothing. That's a strong skill to have in this era of repeated fighter injuries.
Silva and Shelby have earned my trust over the years. And I'm not saying that Saturday's UFC 147 fight card won't be awesome, because there's every chance it will be. It's chock-full of Brazilian talent trying to make a name for themselves, and that usually equals an awesome time. We might be in for a night of incredible finishes and fantastic fights.
But it's difficult to see that right now, isn't it?
I consider myself to be an avid fight fan. I watch a ton of fights, from the UFC on to the tiniest Brazilian fight cards I can find streaming on the Internet. And I admit that even with all that fight-watching, I still don't recognize the majority of the fighters taking part in bouts on UFC 147.
Wanderlei Silva. Rich Franklin. Mike Russow. Fabricio Werdum. I know these fighters. I recognize them. But I literally do not recognize a single name outside of those four. Some of that could have been rectified if I'd watched The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, but I elected to wait and watch the Fuel TV broadcast instead.
The UFC does the best they can with what they are given. When UFC 147 was first conceived, it was going to be the biggest event in the history of the promotion, taking place in a soccer stadium with the rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen in the main event.
But things happened—OK, a whole bunch of things happened, from injuries to politics—and this is what they're stuck with. And no, they couldn't simply switch the event to free television. The contracts Zuffa signs with pay-per-view providers prevents that from happening. It's not a viable option, even though it seems like the best solution.
They're not trying to sell you a bill of goods, either. Advertising for UFC 147 has been virtually non-existent, with the company rightly focusing on next month's UFC 148 event instead. Zuffa realizes that fan interest in this one is low, and they're using their resources to promote the bigger events coming up later in the summer.
The low end for UFC pay-per-views over the past few years seems to be roughly 224,000. Will UFC 147's final number come in significantly lower than that average, or even fall below the 125,000 buys pulled in by UFC 55?
It's tough to say, but there's a chance. Silva vs. Franklin isn't the kind of main event you'd expect to see on a UFC pay-per-view in 2012, but it's the best they could come up with on short notice after Vitor Belfort broke his hand training for the fight. And the fact that most of the card is filled with completely unknown fighters won't help matters.
In the end, UFC 147 could end up being one of the greatest, most action-packed fight cards in UFC history. But will anyone actually watch it?