In case you’ve forgotten, missed the MMA Talk for Pro Wrestling Fans preview on the PW Torch Livecast this week, or simply don’t care this month, there is a UFC PPV event on Saturday night. UFC 221 to be exact. The event emanates from Perth, Australia and has been marred with missteps and misfortunes since the card started coming together over two months ago. I’ll shoot straight with you: the card is laughably weak. The only title fight is for an interim belt and the rest of the card is underwhelming at best. The only intrigue of UFC 221 lays within the shadows of the company. Its attempt at success falls into the hands and lies on the shoulders of UFC’s most potent misfits. These misfits will try to pull off a miracle, but ultimately failure awaits.
Misfit #1. Mark Hunt. Hunt has been a staple inside the fabric of the UFC for years and has recently gone toe to toe with his company on a variety of different subjects. He’s sued the UFC due to his fight with Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 in which he contests that the company acted negligently when dealing with Lesnar including how he was tested for performance enhancing drugs. In the post-fight aftermath, Lesnar was suspended by USADA for violating its PED policy. Hunt lost the fight at UFC 200 and is seeking financial relief within his suit claiming that the UFC was aware of Lesnar’s doping. Hunt further soured relations with his company when he openly talked about his physical health in an interview with Players Voice. In the interview Hunt admitted that he feels the toll fighting has taken on his body and detailed how he’s started to stutter, can’t sleep well, slurs his words, and is losing memory. The UFC responded to Hunt’s claims with claims that they’ve attempted to work with Hunt to get help and promptly removed him from his UFC Sydney fight at UFC Fight Night 121. Hunt was enraged by the move. Since then, Hunt has been cleared by UFC doctors. If you’re rolling your eyes, I’m right there with you. The hypocrisy of both Hunt and the UFC in regards to each other is off the charts. That’s a column for a different day. My how the tides have turned, though. Mark Hunt, UFC’s rogue outlaw, is now in the co-main event of UFC 221 and is being counted on to draw eyeballs to the product. Just four months ago Hunt and the UFC were at each other’s throats and now he’s taking on Curtis Blaydes in a co-main event on a “top” show? Such is life in the fight business, huh?
Misfit #2. The middleweight division of the UFC. This division has been in shambles for nearly a year now due to it being held up because of injuries and super fights. In 2017, Robert Whittaker became the interim champion of the division and Georges St. Pierre returned to the company in the fall to fight for the undisputed title against Michael Bisping. After GSP won the belt all appeared to be in line with a big money unification bout set and ready to go between GSP and Whittaker. Instead, the division stayed in disarray as GSP vacated his newly won championship and Whittaker became the undisputed title holder by default. At that point, the UFC worked again to restore balance to the division and booked Robert Whittaker vs. Luke Rockhold for the undisputed middleweight title at UFC 221. Due to injury, Whittaker bowed out of the fight and the disarray in the division continued. Now, Saturday night features Luck Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero for yet another interim middleweight championship. Your head spinning? Mine too. That insanity is the main event of a UFC PPV? Good grief. The chaos that the middleweight division has gone through is entirely the fault of the UFC. Now, they are counting on that chaos to deliver buys in the main event? It nonsensical but once again, such is life in the fight business.
The problem I have with the decision to feature this band of misfits at the top of UFC 221 is that there is no way they can deliver. Does anyone really want to watch Mark Hunt fight anymore? I understand he’s a character and fun to see, but he detailed some very scary medical issues just a mere months ago. I don’t believe fight fans want to watch him compound those issues by fighting again. Sure, because of the nature of the business those medical issues are understood by all fighters. Understanding it is one thing. Talking about them in great detail for the world to read and then ignoring them to fight again is entirely different. The UFC is asking its fans to forget all about Hunt’s problems and watch him on Saturday night. For what?
Same goes for the middleweight division. The UFC decided to burn this division to the ground by allowing GSP to make his comeback and dictate its direction. Sometimes you get what you ask for and the UFC certainly did here. Now they want to go to the well with it and attempt to position an interim title fight as a worthy main event for $65. Please spare me. Rockhold vs. Romero could very well be an entertaining fight. However, it’s not for the true championship and will only further rock the waters of the division instead of settle them down. It’s not a true PPV main event and won’t be treated by one from fans.
The UFC is in for a rude awakening come Sunday morning. They made their UFC 221 bed and now they have to sleep in it. It’s an event headlined by fighters and storylines that etched black marks on the UFC in 2017. Now these misfits will be counted on to draw? Sorry Dana White, they’ll try, but it just won’t happen.
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