After all the injuries and alternating, UFC 153 seems to be back on track and avoiding the termination that UFC 151 faced. Stepping up to help save the card is none other than UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Upon the turmoil of UFC 151 and the card slipping into nothing, Silva had offered to fight on little over a week’s notice to help keep the card afloat. His offer was to fight some undetermined Light Heavyweight as the main event, but an opponent for him was unclear. Now that Jose Aldo has succumbed to another injury, another card was in jeopardy.
Silva has risen to the occasion again, and will face TUF 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar. This is matchmaking that has the MMA world buzzing, and leaving many bewildered that a 14-7 LHW fighter is now facing the 32-4, undefeated in the UFC, 15-fight winning streak, best P4P fighter in the world.
So the question that lingers is just how will the UFC market this fight?
They certainly have more time than if this had occurred at UFC 151, but what are the selling points of this fight?
Of course, you have Silva, who sells cards by himself. His name and fame already sells him, but facing a guy like Bonnar, who many feel is extremely outmatched, is a different task.
The card takes place in Brazil, insuring that no seat will be left empty and PPVs will be high. This is "The American Psycho" going into Silva's back yard. Silva has gotten to a point, like Mike Tyson, where people buy a card with him as a main event, still “knowing” that they will see Tyson win quickly.
Sometimes, it’s moreso buying a card for the chance that Silva might lose. Regardless of how “silly” this matchup is, people will still buy the card, or at least will watch it at some other point.
This only is possible because Silva has a track record for putting on amazing performances. While some might argue that this is a fight not worth watching, it still is a chance for MMA fans to witness something spectacular. While the odds are minimal for Bonnar on paper, it still means we could see an incredible finish.
So what can the UFC do to try to sell it though?
Well, you have the greatest fighter in the world and he’s taking on a man who put on the greatest fight. A weak selling point, but still worthy to note their influences. Also, Silva’s last venture up to 205 resulted in a disgraced and embarrassed Forrest Griffin, who was the man that put on the TUF finale epic battle with Bonnar. If Bonnar would agree, they could spin this in a revenge-esque manner for his fallen comrade inside the Octagon.
A worthy aspect to take into account for UFC marketing, is that Stephan Bonnar has never been KO’d or submitted. He now will be facing a man who is known for spectacular finishes, with 25 of his 32 victories not going to a decision. Bonnar was able to survive Jon Jones to a decision; maybe he could do that and more with Silva.
For a fight that will inevitably have oddsmakers making a statistical gap the size of the Grand Canyon, the UFC will need to find those backstories to help sell this fight. You can promote Bonnar for being on a three-fight win streak, but he also fought almost a year ago as well and doesn't have the 18-fight win streak that Silva is on (if you don’t include the Okami DQ).
Statistics won’t sell this fight, unless you consider the statistical chances that we will see Silva have an amazing performance and go three for three at LHW with first-round KO's.
However, the UFC would never sell a fight leaning toward the presumed outcome of a fight. They must find a way to paint the picture that Bonnar has better chances than people think, or that this fight has great significance. The UFC has done great work with this in the past, but this one is going to be a challenge.