HYDEN BLOG: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Bellator 218 and UFC Fight Night 148, and UFC PPVs on ESPN+ Thoughts

by frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor

Mar 23, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Maycee Barber (red gloves) and J.J. Aldrich (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Bellator 218 and UFC Fight Night 148 were this past weekend. Let’s get to the rundown.

Bellator 218
GOOD- Norbert Novenyi Jr. submits Will Lavine
Novenyi was all over Lavine and he kept trying submissions. Eventually, in the second round, he locked one in and got the win. Nice win for Novenyi.

GOOD- Anatoly Tokov submits Gerald Harris
Harris dropped Tokov in the first round with a huge left hand. Tokov managed to survive, though, and he hit Harris with a few shots of his own to start the second round, then slapped on a choke and got the submission win. Good win for Tokov.

GOOD- Valentin Moldavsky vs. Linton Vassel
Vassel had some good takedowns early, but he gassed out and Moldavsky took over. He had a big third round to secure the decision victory for himself. Nice win for Moldavsky.

GOOD/BAD- Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Georgi Karakhanyan
The GOOD is for the fact that both guys tried hard, the effort was there. The BAD is for the lack of excitement in this fight. I didn’t care for this fight, I found it dull. Now, maybe this was because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind or I was swayed by the people I was watching with, but this just okay.

Sanchez got the close decision win, as he was just a bit better. He was able to control the fight more and did some damage. That put him over the top and he got a nice win. This isn’t the most impressive win ever but it is a solid win. I’m sure Sanchez will try to build off of this and make another title run.

UFC Fight Night 148
GOOD- Maycee Barber stops J.J. Aldrich
Aldrich dropped Barber early in the first round and punished her with big punches. Barber fought back some but this was all Aldrich early. In the second round, though, Barber put it on Aldrich as she tagged her with some tough shots, eventually swarming and forcing the ref to jump in. Good win for Barber, though she has stuff to clean up in her game.

GOOD- Luis Pena vs. Steven Peterson
The story of this fight was the toughness of Peterson and the striking of Pena. Peterson took a lot of damage in this fight, but he kept coming. There were a couple of times where you thought that he couldn’t withstand it and would wilt, but that never seemed to happen. Pena’s striking was really good, but it wasn’t just punches and kicks that he was doing well at. He fought a good all-around fight and he got the decision because of it. Good win for Pena.

GOOD- Jussier Formiga vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
This fight is elevated a bit in my eyes by the crimson mask of Formiga, who got busted open in the second round by Figueiredo as they were on the ground. Other than that, the fight was good and solid but nothing too great. Formiga was clearly the better fighter on the ground and that got him the decision victory. Nice win for Formiga.

UGLY- John Makdessi vs. Jesus Pinedo
This fight sucked. It was boring and dull. It was a three round bathroom break in all senses of that phrase. Makdessi won the decision.

BAD/GOOD- Curtis Blaydes vs. Justin Willis
This was kind of a boring fight, but that’s because Blaydes was so dominant. I never got the sense that Blaydes was ever in a moment of danger. I don’t know if Willis did anything of this note, not that I recall. Blaydes scores points for the dominant decision win, but to be honest, he loses some points for not being able to finish off a guy he clearly outclassed. I don’t want to be too harsh because I’m sure Blaydes didn’t want to get caught with some miracle punch or something and lose the fight, but he just didn’t do a lot of damage period.

Willis talked a lot of trash for a guy who was clearly dominated the whole fight, but that is what it is. Something that did strike me as odd was after the fight, they had UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier do the in-cage post fight interview. Blaydes is in the heavyweight division, so why not call out the champ to his face? You don’t have to be disrespectful or anything, but just say you want to fight the champ next.

I’ve never understood guys who say stuff like “I’ll fight whoever the UFC wants me to fight”, that’s not a good answer to the question of who you want to fight next. The only time it’s acceptable to do something like that is if you’re going for a Bill Goldberg WCW type of streak where you say “I’ll answer a question with a question, Who’s next because I really don’t give a damn. I’ll beat the ass of anyone who steps foot in this cage with me.” And even that’s not an ideal response as you should always be calling out specific fighters, guys ahead of you in the rankings.

Anyway, back to the win, Blaydes looked good with his wrestling. He’s not in the title picture, as before this win he had lost to Francis Ngannou in less than a minute. Now, some would say that’s why he shouldn’t call out the champ. I say shooters got to shoot. With the crazy way the UFC books fights, you might as well be calling for the impossible because you just might get it.

GOOD- Anthony Pettis stops Stephen Thompson
Thompson won the first round as Pettis struggled to deal with the unorthodox style of Thompson. The second round was more of the same, Thompson peppering Pettis with shots and Pettis getting more and more gunshy and unsure of himself. That is, until the very last few seconds of the round as Pettis lunged forward with a beautiful Superman punch that caught Thompson flush and ended the fight. That was a thing of beauty and “Showtime” Anthony Pettis makes a huge return. It was great. That was the kind of thing that makes your jaw drop for a second. Thompson was in complete control and then he got whammied. This is why I love sports.


I just want to quickly touch upon the UFC’s decision to lock all their pay-per-views behind ESPN+. I know I’ve commented on this a few times elsewhere but I want to put it here as well. A quick recap, if you want to purchase a UFC PPV, you have to pay for a cable subscription and make sure ESPN is in the tier you’re paying for. Then, you have to pay an additional $5 a month for ESPN+. Then, you have to pay $60 for a PPV which may be so diluted (because of the number of shows the UFC runs each month) that you might struggle to justify paying $20 for one of them. Sounds like a real winning plan.

I’ve said before that the UFC needs to pick a road and commit to it fully. Either fully embrace the PPV model and make sure that all your PPV cards are stacked with quality fights that people want to see, or ditch the PPV model completely and put all the previous PPV cards on what would be called The UFC Network. $9.99 a month for at least one card a month (a good one, not some cast-offs from an ESPN8 card), access to the entire UFC and PRIDE library, various other talk shows and stuff like that.

Basically, copy WWE Network. There’s no shame in copying something that is effective. Just this last week, Sony copied the Nintendo Direct format of an online presentation bringing video game news to the masses. Anyone who complains about this or has a problem with it is a fool. If something works, you should do that, especially if it’s better than what you’re currently doing. And currently, the UFC is trying to straddle the fence of getting cable TV money as well as PPV money. What’s happening, though, is that both revenue streams are going down. UFC PPV buy rates have gone in the toilet for a shocking number of shows. Yes, they’ve had bigtime successes like McGregor-Nurmagomedov but they’ve also had a show do 85,000 buys as well as several that have done less than 150,000 buys. For every one big success they have, there’s a half dozen (or more) shows that do poorly.

If you want to boil it down to its bare essence, it’s this. You can’t use 20th Century thinking in the 21st Century. There’s a reason newspapers and magazines had such sharp declines in sales. Sticking a $60 PPV behind a $5 paywall is not going to go over well. This is like a Frankenstein’s monster of all the wrong moves. Not only are you charging way too much for most of these shows, given the quality, but you’re also charging more now. This move basically raises the cost of the UFC PPVs by $5. That’s not entirely true because I’m sure a fair amount of people will buy ESPN+ anyway, just for the access to more UFC shows but the perception among some will surely be that you’re raising the cost.

The UFC needs to be careful because the more you straddle a fence, the more likely you are to start walking funny. Committing one way or the other would be a much better decision.


Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at hydenfrank@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.