Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” Chael Sonnen Looks to Forrest Griffin; UFC on FOX; What Will UFC Look Like in Five Years?
By Joshua Molina
The UFC’s Dana White is looking to pop a big rating on FOX to end the year.
He’s booking the man who headlined his last Pay-Per-View fight to defend the title on FOX, Dec. 8.
The show will feature Ben Henderson defending the lightweight strap against Nate Diaz. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will also return to FOX to fight Alexander Gustafsson. Legend BJ Penn will also battle Rory MacDonald.
Ratings for UFC’s breakthrough primetime show on FOX have drop significantly since its debut in January, so every show has become about ratings, more than anything else.
White, however, could learn a business lesson from his longer-tenured counterpart in the world of professional wrestling, Vince McMahon.
Save the title fights for pay per view. The MMA audience buys pay per views and will pay to see someone named Ben Henderson fight someone named Nate Diaz. Shows on free TV, which are only about TV ratings to boost advertising dollars, should feature big fights and special attractions.
It’s where you book fighters with a name like Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, Rampage Jackson and Chael Sonnen. Mainstream fans don’t care as much about titles as they do about seeing KO’s and good fights. On the undercard of those shows, White needs to put rising stars, who will put on a good fight, not lay and pray for three rounds.
McMahon has built a sustainable pay per view model for more than two decades, while juggling high ratings on free network and cable television for even longer.
Maybe next year White will book George St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva on Fox too?
Chael Sonnen, the best talker in mixed martial arts, is going to fight Forrest Griffin later this year.
Does anyone really want to see that fight at this stage of Sonnen’s career? How did Sonnen go from being the No. 2 contender fighting Anderson Silva for the middleweight championship to stepping into the cage against Griffin, a man in the twilight of his career, who barely eked out a victory over Tito Ortiz, whose best days were far, far behind him?
What does Sonnen gain by beating Griffin, who has already been stopped by the sport’s best? A loss to Griffin would further hurt the trash-talker’s stock after his second round TKO loss to Silva in July.
Ronda Rousey and Sarah Kaufman have dominated the talk for Saturday’s Strikeforce show from the Valley View Casino in San Diego, California.
But the undercard also features a good matchup between Meisha Tate and Julie Kedzie. Tate is the former Strikeforce Women’s bantamweight champion. Kedzie is a veteran of the sport who will pose a good challenge for Tate, who is looking for another title shot against Ronda Rousey.
Kedzie is considered one of the female pioneers of MMA. She fought Gina Carano on Showtime and most recently served as an analyst for Invicta Fighting Championships.
Kedzie recently made an interesting comment to Sherdog.com: “I think women will be in the UFC within the next five years. Even if it’s just super-fights or whatever, I think it will happen.”
Five years? If it happens, it will happen sooner than that. Five years is a long time. Who knows what the UFC will even look like in 2017?