Should You Buy UFC 227?

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2018

Should You Buy UFC 227?

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    There is one particularly unique component to the UFC fan experience that fans of most other sports simply do not have to deal with: The very best content the company produces is behind a paywall.

    It’s been that way forever, where the worldwide leader in MMA slaps a $60 price tag on anything it believes can fetch the price, and the dollars start rolling in.

    While there's been an increasing shift to broadcast television and the promotion's over-the-top service, UFC Fight Pass, pay-per-view appears to be here to stay for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, every time a major event hits the airwaves, a UFC fan must consider whether or not that event is worth buying.

    UFC 227 takes place this Saturday, headlined by a tantalizing bantamweight title fight between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt. Each man has a legitimate claim to being the best in the business, and a co-main event starring pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson might only bolster excitement that much further.

    So, should you buy it if you’re an MMA fan?

The Fights

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    UFC 227

    August 4, 2018

    Los Angeles, CA

    Available on pay-per-view and all streaming platforms on which UFC PPV is supported

    TJ Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt: A bantamweight title rematch from UFC 217, where Garbrandt held gold and Dillashaw took it from him. It doesn't get much better than this, where two top dogs with a long history and a narrow gap in skills will look to settle their score with serious violence.

    Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo: Cejudo has long been the one great hope of any flyweight contender stopping Johnson's unending reign as champion. He tried once and lost spectacularly, but he's evolved into a different fighter since. His weird standup and Olympic gold medal wrestling credentials could be the recipe to solving the best 125er ever.

    Thiago Santos vs. Kevin Holland: Santos is a nasty bit of business who hasn't ever been able to translate his physical skills into elite performance. He'll look to get some cage time in against Holland, making his UFC debut after winning on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

    Polyana Viana vs. JJ Aldrich: Two fringe contenders at 115, both are looking to make waves. Not much to be said about this one.

    Cub Swanson vs. Renato Moicano: A handy way to kick off the main card, as both guys tend to bring it with some enthusiasm. Swanson is fresh into a new contract with the UFC, but he has a tendency to fight like every fight is his last, while Moicano is one of the more unheralded legitimate talents at 145-pounds. This could provide some fireworks.

The Storylines

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    Garbrandt-Dillashaw Feud Continues: The obvious storyline for this event is the Garbrandt-Dillashaw feud. It's been going on forever, and if Dillashaw can fend off the young Ohioan one more time, he might never have to worry about him again. Alternatively, if Garbrandt can find some magic and regain his title, we could be looking at an immediate trilogy bout between them.

    Johnson Really Cleans out Flyweight: Demetrious Johnson has clearly already cleaned out flyweight, so much so that he's into the rarified air of guys like Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva before him: He's beating up guys for a second or third time now, just to get some work in. If he beats Cejudo, there might not be anyone left for him at 125.

Most Entertaining Fight: Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt II

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Their first tilt was fireworks for as long as it lasted, and something about these two clashing makes it apparent that they’d produce that type of thrilling action if they fought 100 times in a row. 

    Both men are wildly skilled, but they each fight with a beautiful blend of aggression and physicality that brings out their technical acumen expertly. Dillashaw is perhaps a touch more crafty, but Garbrandt stands to counter that by having superior power developed out of a more traditional approach to striking.

    While the Johnson fight might entertain those who love perfect technique displayed in a potentially one-sided environment, or Swanson-Moicano might provide more raw testosterone leading to a finish, the fight for people seeking the best competitive entertainment MMA has to offer is the main event.

Best Fight for the Hardcores: Swanson vs. Moicano

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    Moicano is a guy many hardcore fans have gravitated towards as an exciting prospect. His only loss came to Brian Ortega, and it was a fight he was a minute-and-a-half away from winning. He's also beaten Jeremy Stephens and could easily be a fight away from a title shot by now if he'd held on in the Ortega bout.

    Those same hardcore fans tend to speak highly of Swanson, who has graciously slipped into an elder statesman role in MMA while not losing much heat off of his fastball. A Cub Swanson fight is a fight that promises chaos and action for as long as it lasts, so fans will want to see what he does here.

    It's a classic bout pitting two generations of talent against one another, and only one is coming out unscathed.

What This Card Is Missing: One More Relevant Bout

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    This event was originally booked with a high-level contenders' bout in the light heavyweight class, where Alexander Gustafsson was to return from another long layoff to fight Volkan Oezdemir. Unfortunately, Oezdemir got hurt and then Gustafsson got hurt as well before a replacement could be found, so the 205-pound class was removed from representation on the main card altogether.

    The result is a card that's OK but is lacking serious punch. It's very top-heavy, with the main event essentially propping up the whole enterprise. With a pretty limited promotional effort to push that (admittedly excellent) fight and the bad blood behind it, the card needed more big names to get it over the hump.

    It doesn't have that.

Should You Buy This Card?

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    The reason we're all here: Should you buy this card?

    The answer: Probably not.

    This event is pretty instructive of how the UFC does business for most of the year in present times. There'll be a few landmark events on the calendar that cannot be missed at any cost, but most of the time it's one or two fights propping up a bunch of junk you probably wouldn't watch for free.

    Dillashaw and Garbrandt are the best at what they do, and Johnson might be the best to ever do what these athletes do, but when it comes right down to it, there isn't enough meat on the bone to justify a big price tag.

    If you love a grudge match and don't care whether the two hours you'll spend waiting to see it is good or bad, plunk down your dollars. If you fall into any other category, save your money for one that's worth it.