There's a lot on the line at UFC 168.
Not just for the fighters (that's a given). It's the UFC that has a lot on the line tonight.
With two of its biggest draws throwing down, there is a lot of prospective money on the line. There's also plenty of controversy and bad press lurking just under the surface.
So what are the worst case scenarios for the UFC? What did Dana White have nightmares about last night? Find out right here!
So hey, we have weight classes for a reason, right? So how come Diego Brandao, who weighed in just short of the lightweight mark, is fighting Dustin Poirier, who clocked in on-target at featherweight?
The obvious possibilities are injuries or sickness...
But maybe, just maybe, he weighed in at 153 pounds because he could get away with it. Because not cutting weight gives him an advantage over a fighter who did. Because fighting at his natural weight and losing some of his purse would make him more money than losing at his agreed-upon weight.
Either way, Brandao winning would be a very bad look for the UFC. Sure, Dana White can shame youngsters on TV. Joe Silva can criticize loyal-to-a-fault Damarques Johnson for coming in overweight on short notice.
When push comes to shove, as John Lineker has proved, if you show up overweight and win, you're totally fine. So if Diego Brandao shows up and wrecks Dustin Poirier...why not do it?
Remember back when it seemed everyone in Major League Baseball was a steroid user? That all of them shot up between innings and that was the only reason we saw record-breaking efforts from Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and the like?
Was it true? No. Did it feel true? Yes. Did it hurt baseball badly? Oh, hell yes.
With Vitor Belfort, fueled by a potent blend of Jesus and willy-nilly injections of testosterone, lined up for a title fight in 2014, the last thing the UFC needs is another fighter showing that drug-free isn't necessarily the best way to be. They might just have one, though, if Josh Barnett beats Travis Browne in convincing fashion.
Browne is on an impressive winning streak, and Barnett ending that in emphatic fashion would let him cut Fabricio Werdum in line for the on-paper spot of the heavyweight division's top contender. Granted, they're likely to be forced to face off in 2014 anyway with Cain Velasquez out until, at the very earliest, around Christmas time next year.
Still, it's a situation that the UFC really doesn't want to be in. With the UFC constantly battling image problems and naysayers, they definitely don't need to have, potentially, two fighters with lingering connections to PED use wearing a belt.
No GSP. No Cain Velasquez. No Anthony Pettis. No Anderson Silva (maybe).
The UFC needs draws. Badly. They only really have two right now in Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey. Imagine, then, if that number was reduced to one?
The problems there would be twofold.
Miesha Tate, belt or not, is never going to as much of a draw as Ronda Rousey. For whatever reason, she has refused to embrace her personality; the catty, manipulative b-word. The one that sends her boyfriend to smack her opponent. The one that plays dirty off-camera. The one that picks a fight, then gets indignant when somebody takes her up on that offer.
Is it a good look for her? No. But as Josh Koscheck has always alluded to, fighters want to be loved or hated...it's when fans are indifferent that they have a problem. As both Koscheck and Chael Sonnen have shown, when somebody goes "full heel," fans respond in a big way, and a Rachel McAdams in "Mean Girls" character is something we haven't seen in combat sports yet.
While Ronda Rousey may have suffered a drop in popularity since TUF, she's a bigger draw now than ever because of that annoying-to-many hyper-competitiveness. Miesha, though, wants to be liked. And there's no better way to have somebody say "yeah, she's ok, I guess..." than wanting to be liked.
Anderson Silva has been hinting at retirement. Not a little, either. Chad Dundas fleshed out the idea nicely:
For a few minutes there, he donned a Santa hat and smiled for the cameras in Los Angeles, but the impression has been either that he’s very focused for this fight or that he’s completely over it.
I’m going with the latter.
His loss to Weidman at UFC 162 was a call to action, a signal that it was time to redouble his efforts and get back to being the man who toyed with the middleweight division for all those years.
Maybe he did. Maybe he even did enough to dispatch young Weidman this weekend and reclaim his title, but you know what? I bet he discovered he didn’t like it as much anymore.
Chris Weidman has the makings of a star for the UFC. As big as Anderson Silva? Nope. But there's something there.
Losses, though, don't help that. So if Anderson Silva shows up, slaps around Weidman, takes his belt and goes home...that leaves the UFC with nothing.
No draw at middleweight. No champion. No regular headliner for pay per view events. Nothing.
That would be an utter catastrophe for the UFC.