It’s Bellator’s big weekend in Hawaii; the final UFC on FOX is tonight; and Invicta is putting on its latest show, too. So of course the big news item of note the other day was ... a promoter challenging another to a fight?
Yeah, it’s been that type of run in the mixed martial arts world. So let’s not waste any more time getting into the latest edition of Fightweets:
Oscar vs. Dana
@shieldser99: So Dana is annoyed that De La Hoya had Chuck Liddell fight despite being well into his 40s. De La Hoya’s solution is for Dana to fight who’s probably in his 50’s?
This week, I kind of feel like we crossed into this territory:
You’ve all seen what’s happened between Golden Boy Promotions’ De La Hoya and UFC president Dana White over the past month or so, so I’m not going to rehash every little detail.
De La Hoya, whose foray into MMA promotion last month with a Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz rematch no one was asking for was a disaster from every conceivable standpoint (aside from drawing a half-decent crowd at the Forum), wouldn’t stop yapping about White’s treatment of UFC fighters, even though the fighters on the Golden Boy card weren’t exactly making giant paydays.
White made his own media appearances, armed with the sort of facts and figures that are guarded like Ft. Knox except when White wants to use them to make a point, and countered with a bunch of technically accurate but in some cases out-of-context and flat-out misleading stats out there, most of which went unchallenged by the UFC’s new content partner. Then De La Hoya responded on “The Luke Thomas Show” by telling Dana to get into the ring.
This is all getting a little silly, isn’t it? The fight is never happening. No one is going to sanction a retired International Boxing Hall of Famer against a guy whose never had an official fight in his life (okay, maybe Texas might). There’s no good guy or bad guy here. Just a couple of loudmouths who would be better served using their media time to build up their own products instead of engaging in a war of words that took zero time devolving into a schoolyard scuffle.
ONE’s deal with Turner Sports
@MacPherson9999: The ONE deal doesn’t sound so great after all, once we learn the details. Packaged hour long shows on cable after long the events took place like the old Superstars of Wrestling on Saturday mornings? Live events on some streaming service? I doubt the UFC is sweating.
Man, dropping a “Superstars of Wrestling” reference is one surefire way to get your tweet answered in Fightweets. You’re right, once the actual details emerged about what ONE’s three-year deal with Turner Sports encompassed, it turned out a bit underwhelming compared to the excitement caused by the initial reports.
And since we’re sticking with wrestling comparisons this week, it was easy to picture, at first glance, ONE having the potential to become MMA’s version of what World Championship Wrestling was for Turner in the ‘90s -- an outside promotion with a mix of veteran and up-and-coming talent that went up against a stale established product, found success, and ultimate made the establish brand modernize and become better.
But then you saw that the live events will air on B/R Live, an unheralded streaming subscription service, and that the TNT version of ONE will consist of one-hour taped specials, with no word yet about at what time of day they’ll air.
That’s a little different than what people first assumed.
But eventually, you start to reach the point where you wonder how many streaming services are fans going to be willing to buy. Mixed martial arts leaves network television after UFC on FOX 31. The subscription services fans will be asked to pay for if they want to keep up with everything in 2019 include UFC Fight Pass, ESPN+, DAZN, and now B/R Live. That can turn into a monthly bill, along with your internet connection and Netflix/Hulu and whatever else you might have, which could end up costing more than what you were paying when you pulled the plug on cable in the first place. Is MMA’s streaming cash grab of 2019 going to lead to a diluted product down the road? That's going to be something to keep an eye on over the next several years.
Who’s next for Valentina Shevchenko?
@hunt5588: Who do you see as a dark horse to legitimately challenge Valentina at 125?
Can Liz Carmouche be considered a dark horse at this point in her career? Because that’s the fight which most interests me for the new UFC flyweight champion. Yes, I’m aware Jessica Eye is 3-0 at flyweight. Nothing I saw in that fight with Katlyn Chookagian which went to a coin flip of a split decision at UFC 231 suggested she’d have much of a chance against Shevchenko.
On the other hand, Carmouche is a name even casual fight fans recognize, and there’s a built-in backstory of the “Girl-rilla” handing Shevchenko the only stoppage loss of her MMA career (it happened back in 2010, granted, but hey ...). So yeah. I say give Eye one more fight against another contender and give Carmouche the nod for a sellable fight.
Postponements and cancelations
@MichaelFiedel: Is UFC 233 being “postponed” a bigger sign of the same-day Bellator card’s strength or the UFC’s aversion to a non-title fight led PPV?
That was a nice try by the UFC in trying to claim that UFC 233 was “postponed.” If they had announced that UFC 233 was being moved from Jan. 26 to Jan. 27, in the same building, with the same card, and those who bought tickets for the 26th would have them honored on the 27th, that’s a postponement. Nixing an event and dispersing its fights among other cards is a cancellation, no matter how many other dates they add to the back end of the calendar. It was good to see most of the media not play along with this little ruse.
The UFC wanted to call it a postponement, of course, because this marked the second time in 24 months the company tried to go head-to-head with Bellator in Southern California, and twice had to pull the plug. It’s also the second time this comes on a January card right after a loaded, two-title fight card in Vegas the previous month -- UFC 207 and 232, respectively.
In this case, though, the death of UFC 233 in Anaheim was via self-inflicted wound. T.J. Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo sold out Staples Center in Los Angeles on a double bill last summer and have local ties. Someone somewhere made the call that this fight was worth moving to Brooklyn for ESPN+, and that the benefits of this would outweigh the bad will it leaves with local fans, a major arena, and pay-per-view distributors who now have a hole in the schedule on a Saturday night.
As for Bellator, all they had to do was sit back and let the UFC’s event implode all on its own. I think Scott Coker tweet here best summed up his company’s reaction:
@glenaustintx: How much blame should Tyron Woodley get for the UFC 233 fiasco?
How about, I dunno, zero point zero percent? Yes, the UFC tried to put together Woodley vs. Colby Covington and it didn’t come together. Is it Woodley’s fault the UFC yanked a perfectly acceptable headliner off UFC 233? No. Is it Woodley’s fault the UFC booked champ-champ fights on back-to-back PPVs, thus taking the potential for four title fights in a window all four were available to fight and narrowing it down to two? No. Is it Woodley’s fault the UFC booked two title fights on UFC 231 and two more on UFC 232? No. Is it Woodley’s fault the UFC’s 2019 schedule under their new deal shows they’ve done absolutely nothing to address the fact they don’t have enough headliners to go around, a problem they’ve now had five years to address? No.
So yeah, when White claims that Woodley — who fought four times in 12 months in 2016-17 and just fought in September — doesn’t want to fight, that’s about as believable as the idea White will fight De La Hoya.