Recently the UFC hit mma fans with a looping punch with the addition of a Jan. 17th fight card in Dublin, Ireland. Perhaps they were inspired by what they saw in the Evans/Liddel fight! The fight card will happen between the December 27th’s New Year’s Eve show and the January 31st’s Superbowl show. This will now make the Dublin card UFC 93 and make the Superbowl card UFC 94.
The UFC is clearly trying to establish its dominance in the world of mixed martial arts and this is just one more example of how they are going about accomplishing this. To be able to throw together such marketable fight card in such a seemingly short amount of time makes it painfully obvious as to the other organization’s inferiority. I almost feel a bit guilty getting to see so many great fight cards between October and February, but alas my guilt will subside.
My only question is, “Do the two fights they chose to co-promote the event make much sense?” My answers would be “Hell Yes” and “At first glance, No.” The first question would be. “Does it make sense from a marketing & fan’s perspective?” The second question is, “Do these fights make for the light heavyweight division?”
Let’s start with the first fight: Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson
From a marketing & fan’s perspective these fights make total sense. MMA fans have wanted to see Hendo and Ace step into the octagon for awhile. They are both entertaining fighters who are highly marketable and highly decorated. Also, they have both tasted defeat via the same man, Anderson Silva, so in a weird way that connects their paths. This fight should happen and will happen but does it make sense from a divisional standpoint?
First of all, are these two fighters going to settle into one division? It looks like Franklin is since Henderson is moving up to fight him at 205. So what does that mean for Henderson? If he loses the fight does he go back down to 185 and try to get a rematch with Anderson? If he wins, does he decide to stay at 205lbs and try to make a run at the light heavyweight belt?
And what about for Franklin. Does this fight make sense for him? If he wins, does that move him farther into the Top 10 and closer to a title fight when it’s against a man who probably won’t stay in the division after the loss? If he loses, where does that put him in the division? In scheduling this dream matchup I hope the UFC isn’t doing it at the expense of each fighter’s career. Hendo would drop to 1-3 in the octagon and Franklin would be 1-1 in the light heavyweight division, wondering who to fight next. Wouldn’t a fight against the winner of Jardine/Vera make more sense?
And does the winner of this fight get to coach the US team at TUF 9?
Then there is the other fight: Shogun Rua vs. Mark Coleman
Pride Legend vs. UFC Hall-of-Famer. These two met before in a fight that ended in dramatic fashion, with Mark Coleman breaking Rua’s arm. At the time Shogun was cementing his status as the best 205 lb. fighter in the world. He was on a nine win fight streak. His last four wins were over: Alistair Overeem, Ricardo Arona, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Quinton Jackson!!!
After his loss he went on to win 4 more fights in a row before stepping into the ring with Forrest Griffin. It was Coleman’s first fight in Pride and his win set him up for a fight with Fedor. He went to lose that fight, via armbar and hasn’t fought since. Since, being over 2 years.
So this fight absolutely makes sense from a fan’s and marketing perspective. And I am sure both fighters had a lot to do with the rematch. I have no doubt Shogun wants to exact his revenge. But does it make sense from a divisional standpoint? Does Mark Coleman, at 44, intend on sticking around and making a home in the UFC’s lightweight division? Or is this simply him stepping back in the octagon one more time to reclaim some of his former glory? Perhaps the UFC is setting him up to fight Randy Couture. They have almost 90 years between the two of them!
For Shogun doesn’t it make more sense to fight someone who is currently ranked in the Top 10 of the division? I know most of those fighters are currently unavailable right now but due to other current fights scheduled. But rushing into a fight with a seemingly irrelevant fighter (irrelevant now, not to the history of the UFC) who broke his arm over 2 years ago doesn’t seem to make much sense.
While we are at it why dont we have a four man grand prix that night? Who would't like to see an epic wrestling match between Hendo and Coleman. Or what about a stand up war between Franklin and Shoguan. Then again, that might not make much sense.
Despite all of the questions I am a sucker for great marketing, and as a fan, I will be counting down the days until this fight card. While I am not sure how these two fights make much sense to the lightweight division I am sure I will get over this point fairly fast.