UFC 175 is in the books, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship should be pleased with their latest offering. Two champions further solidified their claims on the pound-for-pound list, while a number of other competitors had strong showings of their own. Now that the event is over, these are some interesting story lines that should follow the fighters and promotion going forward.
Chris Weidman as the Face of the Promotion
Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida put on a stellar showcase for the middleweight title. Weidman walked away from the contest with the belt in tow and the opportunity to establish himself as the face of the UFC.
Weidman has already become the darling of the MMA community as he's been featured on a number of different media outlets. Platforms such as ESPN, Fox Sports and other organizations have become Weidman's new playground as he promoted UFC 175. His potential to become the next big star of this sport is widely recognized at this point.
“He has the potential to be the next star,” Jay Glazer told MMA Junkie's Mike Bohn. “He's a good-looking guy, and he's as down to Earth as you're every going to get. ... He's the future, and he's legitimately one of the sweetest human beings you'll ever meet in your life.”
Stars such as Chuck Liddell and Georges St. Pierre helped push mixed martial arts to its current level of popularity. Weidman's victory proved he has the skill to be the next man to carry that baton. The challengers that await him at middleweight are just what he needs to build his name. Timing could not be any more perfect as the UFC is in need of stars to build upon.
Ronda Rousey's Dominance
Sixteen seconds was all Ronda Rousey needed to dismantle the newest challenger to her bantamweight title. Alexis Davis was a true underdog coming into this fight, but this quick finish outcome wasn't expected by most. That leaves the UFC in a tough predicament with what to do with the fighter that is presented as their biggest star on the roster.
Rousey has already defeated six of the women ranked in the top 10 of this weight class. Cat Zingano was forced to the sideline due to her knee injury, but placing her in an immediate bout against Rousey would leave her at a disadvantage.
Rousey has shown interest in facing Bethe Correia, who has seemed to make it a point to take out the champion's training partners. That potential fight is still a long ways off before the UFC can justify that booking. The same goes with a rematch against Sara McMann. The options are truly limited with what the company can do with the “Rowdy” one.
Holly Holm and Cristiane Justino sit on the outside looking in as the UFC has struggled to get either of them signed to the promotion. While both of these competitors could be booked as potential threats to Ronda's reign, the MMA community is still far away from seeing either contest.
The UFC is at a point where it needs Rousey more than ever. Unfortunately, a lack of compelling matchups will make it difficult to properly book their champion.
How the UFC will follow up
UFC 175 was set to be a major test for the promotion. 2014 had been less than stellar when it came to pay-per-view buys for the company. This card was stacked with two title bouts in hopes that their defenses would catch the eyes of the viewing public. General response to the event has been widely positive. Now the question turns to how the UFC can follow up for the fans.
UFC 176 was set to go on Aug. 2 and feature the rematch between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. Unfortunately the injury bug has hit Aldo once again and puts that card in serious jeopardy. Outside of Jon Jones, the company has struggled to garner much attention for their champions.
The current model of flooding the market with fights haven't had the best results at this time. Yet the leaders of the UFC seem undaunted in changing their model.
It will be interesting to see how the promotion follows up to such a strong event. Momentum is vital in the sports promotion industry, so the UFC will best benefit by creating cards that immediately capture the attention of mainstream fans. That has already been difficult for much of 2014, but the organization has to find a way to answer the call.
UFC 175 was a very bright spot for a 2014 that has been filled with challenges for the organization. These are just three of the story lines that now follow key fighters and the organization as a whole.