Can Conor McGregor Cash In Again?
On Aug. 20, 2016, Conor McGregor will attempt to not only avenge his sole UFC loss to Nate Diaz, but he will also look to reclaim his crown as the MMA King of Vegas.
Prior to the extravaganza that was UFC 200, McGregor laid claim to headlining the top three grossing live UFC events in the promotion’s figurative home of Las Vegas, Nevada. With an announced live gate of $10.7 million, UFC 200 usurped McGregor’s perch atop Sin City.
Despite being a commercial success for the promotion, the UFC would like to place UFC 200 in its rear view mirror. From the cancellation of Diaz vs. McGregor 2, to the last minute removal of Jon Jones due to a flagged drug test, and the subsequent USADA doping violations of special attraction Brock Lesnar, UFC 200 has become permanently tainted.
Taking place in the same arena, and headlined with their most bombastic fighter, UFC 202 has an opportunity to cleanse the UFC of its tumultuous summer. UFC 202 will undoubtedly be wildly successful; however, surpassing the milestone event will be difficult. While Diaz vs. McGregor 2 is arguably the biggest fight that can be presented in the current climate; the remainder of the card is an above average run of the mill event.
Whereas UFC 200 appealed to various types of MMA fans, UFC 202 is sold entirely on a single fight. Additionally, UFC 200 was always predestined to be the seminal MMA event. Long before any matches were ever announced, UFC 200 was always assumed to be Super Bowl of MMA. Fans were going to flock to Las Vegas regardless of the card.
Despite the uphill battle, McGregor is an endless promotional machine, with no shortage of words for any microphone he encounters. Furthermore, McGregor will get to test his drawing power after his first loss. In contrast, fellow MMA megastar Ronda Rousey has maintained virtual radio silence in the wake of her initial defeat; calling into question the value of an undefeated UFC tenure.
Whether or not McGregor can topple the live gate record of UFC 200, he will likely remain a top asset to the company. However, if he does reclaim his place as the top fighting attraction in “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” he will sure make us aware of his accomplishment.
Deconstructing Diaz: Even though Conor McGregor receives a plethora of media attention, he is only half of the UFC 202 equation. Nate Diaz is every bit the dynamic personality that McGregor is. Shaun Al-Shatti of MMAFighting.com uncovers parcels of who Diaz really is in a piece published this past week titled, “HEART OF THE 209”. Written in the words of former opponents of Diaz, readers are given unique insight into the physical and mental struggles of facing Diaz, including a fair amount of commentary on the odd relationship between Diaz and the UFC. Accompanied with brilliant artwork by Edward Cao, the piece is a must read, especially for those who cannot fully comprehend the recent rise to stardom of Nate Diaz.
More UFC 202 Hype: On Aug. 14, Fox Sports 1 aired an hour long documentary recapping the history of Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. The piece is detailed enough to inform casual fans of the ongoing verbal feud between the two fighters. The program will re-air throughout the week leading up to UFC 202.
The Late Summer/Early Fall of Punk: Monday Aug. 15, Fox Sports 1 will air the debut episode of “The Evolution of Punk.” The four part series will chronicle the journey of former WWE star Phil “C.M. Punk” Brooks as he sets out to make his UFC debut at UFC 203 facing off against the undefeated Mickey Gall Aside from press conferences and media interviews, “The Evolution of Punk” will be the public MMA introduction of Brooks Public reception of the series will be interesting based on the controversial nature of Brooks’ presence in UFC. Controversy aside, it is a logical move for the UFC to explicitly promote a fighter that has the potential to draw an audience from a prior endeavor.
TKO MMA to Debut on UFC Fight Pass: The previously defunct Canadian MMA promotion TKO MMA has reached an agreement to air live events on UFC Fight Pass. According to UFC.com TKO MMA will debut on the streaming service on Friday, November 4, 2016. An additional five events will take place throughout 2017.
Podcast Nuggets: The Aug. 12 episode of “You’re Welcome! With Chael Sonnen” features a short but intriguing conversation with former “The Ultimate Fighter” prospect Austin Springer. Springer details life on the UFC bubble, and his strategy to get to UFC.
The Aug. 10 edition of “UFC Unfiltered” contains a lengthy interview with longtime UFC announcer Joe Rogan. Rogan addressed his status with UFC emphasizing his willingness to remain with the promotion; while also expressing the desire to scale back his duties. Rogan also had very candid opinions on the process making weight in UFC.
(Robert Vallejos writes a new Specialist column for MMATorch titled “Media & Business” focused on, you guessed it, the media coverage of MMA and the business side of MMA. He is fascinated by the presentation, business decisions, media strategy, and press coverage of both UFC and MMA as a whole, and will bring that curiosity to explore and delve into that side of MMA to his weekly Specialist column here at MMATorch. He explains his approach: “As a sport in its relative infancy, MMA does not receive the same level of scrutiny and informed analysis from the sports media as other more established entities. This is why it is vital for independent outlets such MMATorch to grow, while featuring a variety of voices. Unlike mainstream outlets, MMATorch is not beholden to any organization. Therefore I believe it is essential for individuals such as myself to explain not only the ‘what’ but also the ‘why’ of MMA.”)