UFC fight nights are a watered down mess
A couple days ago, UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard posted a tweet about the weekend’s UFC fight night card that said:
“Bet ya bloody elbow complained about the ufc card this weekend”
Those 11 words told me that the brass is paying attention to Bloody Elbow more than they’d like to admit and that they’re feeling sensitive about the criticism they’re receiving regarding their cards, specifically the Apex UFC fight night cards. I will admit, it was pretty amusing watching Maynard tell fans in a follow-up tweet how much he loved them as they were dragging this outlet.
For months now, the promotion has provided some of the most threadbare cards, almost completely devoid of ranked fights and fighters. For clarification, most consider a “ranked fight” to be one where both competitors are ranked within the Top 15. I should also make another clarification: UFC fight night cards that are held outside the Apex Center tend to have a little more beef to complement the potatoes. But even those aren’t guaranteed to have what fans and pundits crave; the best fighters actually fighting each other.
So why do they water these cards down with regional level talent? Because it’s cheap. Fighters are frequently drafted over from the Contender Series on $10K show/win purses. This strategy provides economically-friendly talent to fill all the events they need to satisfy their contract with broadcast partner ESPN. Why do they keep holding so many cards at the Apex Center when they no longer need to maintain the Covid bubble? Again, because it’s cheap. The cost of running events with an extremely limited audience in a facility that gets used frequently is genius-level cost-cutting. They don’t have to take all that production on the road. All the equipment and setup is in one location.
Let’s take a look at this weekend’s offering, UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs. Albazi, which happens to be yet another Apex card. The show features a dynamite flyweight bout in the headlining spot between Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi which will undoubtedly provide all manner of action and excitement. Problem is, it’s the only ranked fight on the card. The only other ranked athlete aside from the main event players is Alex Caceres. There are 13 fights featuring 26 fighters and only 3 of them are ranked. In the eyes of many, my own included, that’s a problem.
Why is Bloody Elbow always complaining?
Why do we complain loudly and repeatedly? Because when you have a company that has both a monopoly and a monopsony on the industry, a company with a valuation of $12.1B, you kind of expect them to showcase their best and brightest more consistently. We’re not saying every UFC fight night card should be loaded from top to bottom with ranked talent. What we are saying is that there’s a need for more impactful matchups. Remember, those fight night cards aren’t actually free, they come with an ESPN+ subscription price tag of $9.99/month and that just keeps increasing roughly every 12-18 months. It’s expensive to be a fan. The UFC is giving less yet we are paying more.
We did have some other things going on in the episode besides UFC fight nights, including a select-bout-breakdown of this weekend’s event. We also did a round of salacious headlines, so there’s plenty to unpack.
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