TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 9/6: Looking ahead to UFC 204: Bisping vs. Henderson, Punk bypasses traditional rule to be cleared, GSP on BJ Penn, more

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor


If you enjoy going to UFC shows and you also enjoy not sleeping, then UFC 204 is the show for you.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday for the event to be headlined by a Middleweight Title fight between champion Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson. In order to accommodate the traditional 10 p.m. Eastern pay-per-view timeslot in North America, the main card for UFC 204 will start at 3 a.m. British Standard Time with the prelims likely starting sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight.

UFC has typically been a late-night product, with many events ending past 1 a.m. in North America and some live shows in Brazil running as late as 3-4 in the morning, but this will be the latest they have ever run in a local market.

UFC 204 tickets go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. BST for Fight Club members, with a UFC email newsletter subscriber pre-sale on Thursday followed by the public on-sale Friday.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: This will be an interesting experiment from UFC to keep an eye on. It will already be very late at night as fans are filing into the arena and it remains to be seen if this will be a deterrent to ticket buyers. It’s a big fight for Bisping in his local market, so that will be a motivator for fans to sacrifice a night’s sleep to see the fight live.

I understand UFC wanting to keep the start time consistent, but if they insist on this being a pay-per-view fight, I don’t think it would have been the worst idea to consider an earlier start time. When they ran pay-per-view events in Europe or the UK in the past, they would have an afternoon slot for the live pay-per-view followed by the traditional 10 p.m. slot for viewers who prefer to watch at night, or in many cases, didn’t even know it was airing on delay. These shows typically did below average buys, so it’s understandable that UFC didn’t want to risk a poor buyrate by messing with the time. It’s also been 7 years since they’ve done this so it could be worth trying if ticket sales aren’t good for UFC 204.

Another change in recent years is UFC’s audience is aging and may be less interested in staying up late to attend or watch a show. FS1 shows that typically run to 1 a.m. or later have been seeing their peak audience at around midnight, well before the main event, so there is evidence that current UFC fans would appreciate earlier shows. We’ll find out in a few days once tickets go on sale how late U.K. fans are willing to stay up to see a live show.


-Nate Diaz’s boxing coach Richard Perez cited training camp injuries to Diaz’s knee and ribs as contributors to his loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 202 in an interview with Submission Radio. He also pushed for a third Diaz-McGregor fight before either man take other fights.

-Here are the first two episodes of UFC Embedded leading up to UFC 203 this weekend.

-Despite a Twitter call out from old foe, Georges St-Pierre told MMA Fighting that he has no interest in a third fight with B.J. Penn. “I have nothing to gain going back to fighting B.J. Penn,” he said.

-C.M. Punk was granted a license to compete at UFC 203 this weekend by the Ohio Athletic Commission despite a standing rule that stipulates licensed fighters must have a winning record over at least 5 amateur MMA bouts. Commission Executive Director Bernie Profato used Punk’s “wrestling background similar to Brock Lesnar,” as grounds to grant Punk an exemption, seemingly ignoring the fact that Lesnar was an NCAA Division I wrestling champion before being a professional wrestler. Nonetheless, Punk is cleared to fight Mickey Gall this weekend.

-Former top UFC welterweights Jon Fitch and Jake Shields will meet at World Series of Fighting 34 on Nov. 12 in Loveland, Colorado.

(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)

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