Back on the 15th of December 2012, the Ultimate Fighting Championship held two events on that same day, the TUF Smashes Finale & the TUF 16 Finale. In reality due to significant time zone differences, those two cards were about 24 hours apart.
This Saturday the 31st of May 2014, Zuffa LLC promotes another two events on the same day, UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin, Germany & pretty much straight after that The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale in São Paulo, Brazil.
Despite the chatter about over saturation rearing it’s ugly head once again, Dana White & co are poised to keep promoting more & more shows. Why, you may ask?
Well, it’s about global expansion, getting into new markets, so eventually multiple parts of the world having shows at the same time. Before you roll your eyes at the concept, think about it, it’s feasible for any other global sport, so why not MMA?
You may say such a model is realistic for football (not NFL, football!!!), but not for combat sports. I beg to differ.
I remember back in the 90’s when boxing was more popular than it is today. It wasn’t unusual to have two marquee match-ups on two different cards on the same night. For example, in a prime time U.K. slot you might have had Steve Collins, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank or Prince Naseem Hamed and later that night at 5 a.m. you might have an American star like Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson or Oscar De La Hoya. From what I can remember of that era I don’t remember anyone after watching the earlier card saying “I’m not bothered staying up for Tyson’s fight” etc.
Now, I know this Saturday’s events may not have those equivalent household names on them. However, that does not invalidate the sustainability of this international model long term. The main question here as always is do these shows have fights on them that matter from a ranking perspective? The answer is yes, there is five fights overall with ranked fighters competing in them, three of those on the Berlin show and two on the São Paulo event.
The irony for me is that the earlier show overshadows the later one. Losing Junior Dos Santos really hurt the Brazil show, but injuries happen and the show must go on (with the exception of UFC 151 of course, sorry Jonny Bones).
We will look at the three ranked bouts from the Berlin card, which airs exclusively on UFC Fight Pass (BT Sport in Ireland & the UK) first. Then we will look at the two ranked fights from the TUF 3 Brazil Finale.
First up we begin with the bantamweight division where number seven ranked fighter Iuri Alcantara (29-5) takes on unranked Vaughan Lee (14-9-1).
Alcantara is coming in to this fight off a split decision victory over Wilson Reis, while Lee is coming off an impressive unanimous decision win over Nam Phan.
Both men are 3-2 in their last five, so the winner establishes a two fight winning streak with something to build upon. Both fighters are highly skilled in their own right.
A win for Alcantara calls for a top ten opponent next to begin a gradual ascent back into fighting top five opposition. A loss however could possibly kick the Brazilian out of the top ten.
A victory for Lee puts him in the top ten. If it’s a close one it calls for another top ten opponent to likewise gradually work his way up the rankings, but if he can finish, this could speed up his journey to fighting contenders at 135 lbs.
Next up we move to the showcase division of this card, Middleweight. Number nine ranked Francis Carmont (22-8) goes up against non-ranked C.B. Dollaway (14-5).
Carmont is coming off a dominating decision loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, while Dollaway is coming off an impressive first round KO over Cezar Ferreira. Normally the UFC matchmakers do not put a winner and a loser together, but they have made an exception here.
Dollaway is 3-2 in his last five. One of those losses was a controversial decision to Tim Boetsch. He has looked good of late, but not against the most stellar opposition.
Carmont is 4-1 on the other hand in his last five already beating opposition slightly better than Dollaway’s opponents. Therefore both men match up fairly evenly in the overall scheme of things.
A win for the French man here calls for a top ten opponent. A loss on the other hand sends the Tristar team member out of the top ten. Dollaway on the other hand is on an ascent and a win puts him in the top ten. Carmont is very difficult to look good against, never mind finish. If Dollaway wins he goes straight into the top ten and will most likely fight another top ten guy, but if he can finish the fight then a top five opponent may be called for next.
Staying at 185 lbs, we move to the main event in Berlin between number seven ranked Mark Munoz and number 11 Gegard Mousasi. Both men are coming off losses to the same opponent, number three ranked Lyoto Machida. Munoz’s came via devastating KO in the first round, while Mousasi’s a dominant decision loss to the Brazilian.
Both men need a win desperately. A win for Munoz keeps him in the top ten while a win for Mousasi earns him a place in the top ten. A loss for Munoz knocks him out of the top ten, while a loss for Mousasi puts him out of the top 15.
Moving to South America on Fox Sports 1 (BT Sport in Ireland & the U.K.), we re-focus our attention to welterweight with number eight Demian Maia (18-6) competing against unranked Alexander Yakovlev (21-4).
Maia is coming off a two-fight losing streak, albeit close decisions. The Russian is however coming off a three fight win streak, most recently over Paul Daley by decision.
Maia desperately needs a win. On paper he should win. A win keeps him in the top 10 & probably lines him up with a ranked welterweight next. If Gunnar Nelson wins his next match up, that might make sense down the road. A win for Yakovlev would be huge, catapulting him into the top ten & calling for a similarly ranked opponent too.
Finally we move to heavyweight and our main event where number seven Stipe Miocic (11-1) against an unlikely short notice replacement in light heavyweight stepping up to heavyweight Fabio Maldonado (21-6).
Miocic is expected to take care of business here & hopefully he can salvage his lost fight with number one contender Junior Dos Santos. A loss however if the upset trend of late continues would certainly knock the fire fighter out of the top 10. Maldonado has nothing to lose. I would expect to see him return to 205 lbs regardless of the outcome of this fight. If he wins possibly a ranked light heavyweight is up next.
That about does it here. However don’t miss any of the action this weekend to find out who claims for themselves what’s on the line.