UFC Fight Night 26: Just How Stacked Is the Fox Sports 1 Debut Card?

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2013

Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Chael Sonnen during a press conference after UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Claiming something is the best you've ever done before you've even started to think about it is a bold move—especially when you're the UFC and you've been successfully dominating your business for the better part of a decade.

Unfortunately, MMA Junkie's Matt Erickson reports that's exactly what the promotion did going into its debut on Fox Sports 1, a card taking place in Boston on Aug. 17.

Dana White came out and promised that the event would be the best the UFC had ever put on free TV, well before there was a main event or much of a card.

Now that the card is finalized, to be headlined by an out-of-nowhere main event between Shogun Rua and Chael Sonnen, it's hard not to be a little underwhelmed by it all.

Sure, there are lots of big names on the card. The aforementioned headliners, Alistair Overeem and Urijah Faber are all to be featured. But is that really the best card we've ever seen on free TV?

Probably not.

When you promise that out of the gate, anything less is that much more disappointing than it normally would be.

Make no mistake, this isn't a bad card. It's actually pretty good. Despite the bizarre germination of the main event, it still pits two of the biggest stars on the roster against one another.

Overeem is a draw based solely on his superhuman build and kill-or-be-killed fight outcomes.

Faber is usually good for a finish.

Others like Matt Brown and Joe Lauzon are outright bonus hunters and will definitely put on a show.

But the best card the UFC has ever done for free, it isn't.

It's the trap of promoter hyperbole, something that White has fallen into more often the more the UFC has expanded. You promise what you have to for the sake of drumming up excitement, then you worry about delivering it later. If you cannot deliver it, worry about that after the fact, too.

Considering people were pondering an appearance by Georges St-Pierre or Jon Jones early on, a fight between a worn-out Rua and a Sonnen heading back to middleweight after the fight has to be a step down.

So it goes for the UFC and for Fight Night 26. It's a decent card, one that's pretty steady for a freebie. But it's not the best ever, and it's only stacked if you have a very particular taste.

Given what was talked about initially, that's a tough pill to swallow.