UFC 297: Not a great undercard

Zane Simon & Connor Ruebusch are back to break down the preliminary card from this week's UFC 297 event.

By: Stephie Haynes | 1 month
UFC 297: Not a great undercard
Gillian Robertson kicks Tabatha Ricci Florida Times-Union | USA TODAY Network, IMAGO

We were pretty happy with the main card of UFC 297, but the preliminary portion leaves a lot to be desired. We can’t figure out how this undercard was paired with the five fights that will come after it. From the lack of ranked fighters to the dearth of name value, we think it’s kind of a stinker.

UFC 297, what are you doing with this undercard?!

So what exactly are we working with here? Well, we have some names that casuals wouldn’t recognize—most hardcores might struggle with a few of them too—and the ones we are familiar with aren’t that good and don’t really seem to provide much in the way of upward movement into or through the rankings.

Considering the regional level fodder the Apex typically gets, one would hope that the PPV cards would get better treatment, but judging by the looks of these contests, we almost feel like we’re actually looking at an Apex card, and that doesn’t sit well with us, especially for the first PPV of the year.

UFC 297 Main Card Vivisection

As a matter of fact, not a single fighter on the undercard is ranked. Not one. It’s pretty bad when every single athlete involved in the first four fights—all eight of them—are coming off losses. It’s pretty easy to see why the Saudis put their foot down when the UFC offered Apex level slop like this to them for an event they paid a $20M site fee for.

When ESPN became the broadcast partner of UFC after the FOX deal expired, the community got a big shock with the quality of events and it’s steadily gone downhill since. When the company is guaranteed money no matter what, why bother putting in more than the minimal amount of effort.

Their system works, though, because they keep having banner year after banner year revenue-wise, but one has to wonder when fans will finally grow weary of watered down cards and start seeking other avenues to get their fight fix, be it another promotion or another sport altogether.

UFC 297 Prelims

Don’t forget to check out the bonus section for a great review of the UFC Vegas 84 preliminary card. Make sure to tune in immediately after this weekend’s fights for breakdowns and analysis on our 6th Round Post-Fight Show.

Listen to the MMA Vivisection undercard analysis on UFC 297 via our podcast Substack

UFC 297 Embedded Ep. 4

Start date and time

UFC 297: Strickland vs. Du Plessis takes place on January 20th, at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET. The early preliminary card begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, with the regular prelims kicking off at 8 p.m. ET.


If you just so happen to be out in Nevada and want to witness UFC 297: Strickland vs. Du Plessis live, you can purchase tickets by clicking here.

PPV price and Live streams

UFC 297: Strickland vs. Du Plessis is available on ESPN+ PPV for $79.99 for current subscribers. New subscribers can pay $124.98 for the UFC 291 pay-per-view and an ESPN+ annual subscription. The event is scheduled to start live at 10:00am ET, 7:00am PT, with the prelims on the ESPN+ streaming platform in the US, as well as Fight Pass. The PPV main card is to kick off at 2:00pm ET, 11:00am PT. For full streaming details, and compatible devices go here.

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About the author
Stephie Haynes
Stephie Haynes

Stephie Haynes has been covering MMA since 2005. She has also worked for MMA promotion Proelite and apparel brand TapouT. She hosted TapouT’s official radio show for four years before joining Bloody Elbow in 2012. She has interviewed everyone there is to interview in the fight game from from Dana White to Conor McGregor to Kimbo Slice, as well as mainstream TV, film and music stars including Norman Reedus, RZA and Anthony Bourdain. She has been producing the BE podcast network since 2017 and hosts four of its current shows.

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