UFC 136 looks like an amazing card on paper. It also is likely to only do 350,000 buys on pay-per-view. The harsh reality is that Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar aren’t major drawing stars right now, regardless of how great their last fight was. And watching Kenny Florian try for a title after losing two shots at the lightweight strap and then losing a title eliminator, forcing him to drop in weight, isn’t likely to be a big motivator for the general public.
Personalities tend to sell pay-per-views and the UFC has two very big personalities with very good stories to tell sitting in the middle of the card with Brian Stann and Chael Sonnen.
Chad Dundas of ESPN discusses the lack of Sonnen and Stann in the event’s promotion:
…it’s kind of unusual for a high-stakes fight involving Sonnen — especially considering he’s making his return after 14 months away from the cage, a time when he fell from being No. 1 contender to being suspended for violating the California Athletic Commission’s drug policy to being indicted on federal mortgage fraud charges.
After emerging on the other side of all that adversity, you’d expect Sonnen’s comeback to feel bigger, more important. Yet, while this fight hasn’t been forgotten by any stretch, it also hasn’t taken on the momentum it might have attained had it been promoted with a bit more vigor.
I understand placing the emphasis on the two title fights, but having the return of Sonnen glossed over is strange after what seemed like a starmaking performance in the media leading up to his bout with Anderson Silva. The suspension may have made the UFC a little uneasy about hyping Sonnen up too much, but the personality differences between the two men are just too perfect to bury.
Of course, Sonnen and Stann haven’t exactly been letting the trash talk fly. Possibly as a function of their placement in the marketing and possibly just because they do actually respect each other.
Of course, Chael is still running around talking about making Anderson Silva’s wife cook him a steak so it’s not like he has really turned over a new leaf in terms of self-promotion. It’s just not carrying over into this fight.
I just can’t help but feel like really pushing this match-up along with two title fights could have made this a bigger success at the box office.
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