The UFC raised a few eyebrows when the UFC on Fox 11 lineup was announced recently, as two fighters in the Top 10 of the lightweight division will be competing on the preliminary portion of the card.
Bloody Elbow has the full lineup from a UFC press release, which shows the questionable decision to put Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Rafael dos Anjos on Fox Sports 1 in the prelims.
Fans have known for quite some time that Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum will be the main event and Miesha Tate vs. Liz Carmouche will be the co-main event. When the UFC announced No. 7 Nurmagomedov and No. 6 Dos Anjos were scheduled to face each other, it was assumed that the fight would appear on the main card of a Fox show or even on a pay-per-view.
But I guess two guys who are a combined 10-0 in their last five fights aren't worthy of a main card spot.
It's especially odd given that Dana White has built Nurmagomedov up to be a guy that nobody wants to fight. The Russian has also not only been surging up the rankings but also in overall popularity with the fans.
He is a certified star in the making.
I understand why Donald Cerrone and Edson Barboza are on the main card given their name value, but neither man will be fighting for a lightweight title anytime soon. The same cannot be said of Nurmagomedov vs. Dos Anjos; the winner could very well be the next title challenger.
Also, Brad Tavares and Yoel Romero are both on nice hot streaks right now, but they are not household names. Tavares hasn't finished a fight since UFC 125 against Phil Baroni.
Although it doesn't necessarily mean a lot for MMA fans, the placement on the card means quite a bit in terms of money for Nurmagomedov and Dos Anjos. The remuneration for competing on Fox Sports 1 is entirely different than competing on the main card of a Fox event.
A similar situation happened at the first UFC on Fox event, when Benson Henderson and Clay Guida fought in a non-televised fight. Both guys were on a roll and put on a show for the fans in attendance, along with those watching, en route to earning Fight of the Night honors.
Hopefully history repeats itself at UFC on Fox 11 with Nurmagomedov and Dos Anjos.