Jonathan: At UFC 173 T.J. Dillashaw shocked the world, winning the bantamweight title from the seemingly unbeatable Renan Barao. Even before a fifth-round finish he was slicker, sharper and faster than his Brazilian foe. It was glorious.
The result caused shock waves within the MMA bubble—and nowhere else. Barely 200,000 people watched on PPV, begging the question of whether a new star could be created on a show no one saw. Few knew much about Barao, the dominant champion with the protruding ears. Fewer still could pick Dillashaw out of a lineup.
Before he was elevated into the main event, before his tiny image appeared underneath Barao's on the UFC 173 poster, Dillashaw had never even appeared on the main card of a UFC PPV. In fact, he had never main evented a UFC show of any kind. He was the definition of "some guy." And "some guy" doesn't cut it when it comes to selling shows.
Unfortunately, it looks like the UFC has learned nothing from the Dillashaw debacle. Two top-10 flyweights, Zach Makovsky and Jussier Formiga, will compete on the Fox Sports 2 undercard rather than on the main show. In the razor-thin 125-pound division, either could be tapped to step in with champion Demetrious Johnson at a moment's notice.
When that happens they will be strangers to the broader audience, their place in the spotlight given to a journeyman named Seth Baczynski, a nondescript fighter who has lost three of his last four. It's a baffling decision. Can you explain it to me, Chad?
Chad: No, I can't.
The only thing I can think is that perhaps Fox is starting to lean on the UFC in an attempt to get more people to call their cable companies and demand FS2. Be honest, did you even know FS2 was still around? I, myself, did not, and now I'm kind of bummed to learn I'm not going to get to watch these prelims, which also inexplicably include McMann vs. Murphy.
Am I use-the-telephone mad about it? No, probably not, but perhaps some people will be. And hey, if even one person calls up and orders FS2 just to watch UFC prelims—bringing the channel's subscriber numbers to, like, an even dozen or whatever—then maybe it was worth it to the suits to hide Makovsky-Formiga and McMann-Murphy away where very few of us are going to be able to find them.
Kind of stinks for everybody else, though, especially the fighters.