TSN.ca's MMA staff takes a look at some of the hottest issues in the world of mixed martial arts.
1) Are you satisfied with the new UFC 153 main event between Anderson Silva and Stephan Bonnar?
John Pollock, Host TSN 1050 - The MMA Report: First of all, the UFC had to make this fight and if the options are Silva vs. Bonnar in a meaningless bout at 205-pounds or cancelling the event you are going with the former. My problem with this style of matchmaking is that they are now (as the UFC) asking their audience to pay for the worst case scenario, much like Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort where the audience had to justify Belfort as a challenger.
I am of the belief that you do a pay-per-view when you have a pay-per-view quality card and not simply because it's our monthly obligation to do a show. I'm sure this will be a fun fight and we'll get some entertaining analysis next week of how Bonnar can do the unthinkable, but to me you are sending a message to the average UFC consumer that orders a handful of shows a year that this is a show you can skip and that's the last message I would ever want to tell my customer base and get them in the habit of skipping shows.
James Lynch, TSN.ca: This might be the most embarrassing main event the UFC has put on in years. What we have here is one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the sport, moving up a weight class to face a journeyman who was contemplating retirement. Bonner is a 13-to-1 underdog for a reason, he's never challenged for a title and never fought any top talent other than Jon Jones. This is the equivalent of David Stern telling the NBA, “Forget this season, we're going to match up the Heat and Raptors in the NBA finals.” It's absolutely insane.
What's even more puzzling is at 37-years-old, you would think the UFC would want to put Silva in marquee matchups to finish off his career. I doubt fans or pundits would be complaining if this main event was a superfight between Silva vs. Shogun Rua or Rampage Jackson. On top of all of this, Chris Weidman was supposed to earn a middleweight title shot after dismantling Mark Munoz and instead has to watch Silva leave the weight class and delay that fight. I understand this is a business decision and the fight itself is someone intriguing (Bonner has never been finished in his career), but once again this is a result of the UFC putting on too many cards and filling holes with whoever isn't scheduled to fight.
2) Who is to blame for the decision to cancel the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy event?
Lynch: I blame both Showtime and Zuffa for this one. Let's start with Showtime and the argument that if you only plan on televising a few shows a year, make sure you work with Zuffa on a backup plan if an injury occurs. It's absurd to think that a single fight should carry an entire card and it's even more ridiculous to think that injuries won't occur leading up to a fight. I still think the event would have pulled decent numbers if a replacement fight occurred (apparently Josh Thomson was willing to step into the main event and face Healy), but I understand from a financial perspective you don't want to lose money televising an event. However, Zuffa really has to take a big chunk of the blame for this.
For starters, it's not like Stikeforce has many chips to play with. The majority of the organization's top talent has been signed to the UFC and the remaining fighters aren't noteworthy enough to headline an event that only occurs every couple of months. I don't understand why the UFC didn't just move a fighter or another fight to save this Strikeforce card? We know moving fighters over is possible, Dana White announced recently that apparently Matt Mitrione turned down a fight with Daniel Cormier. It's a telling sign with this cancellation that Strikeforce may be nearing its end, and I think the only way it can be successful is treat the organization like the minor leagues, combining a mixture of UFC gatekeepers and upcoming talent.
Pollock: It was a Showtime call to cancel the event and since the network must approve all fights on their cards they receive the blame for the cancellation of this show. We can all criticize the undercard, which was nothing to write home about, but frankly a main event between Gilbert Melendez and Pat Healy wasn't going to do appreciably more than a main event between Josh Thomson and Pat Healy. Showtime has to approve every fight that is booked and therefore it was good enough for them weeks ago to put on a card that was relying on one guy in Melendez. It also should be noted the lack of outcry over the cancellation of this show – no one has really cared that Saturday came and went without a Strikeforce show, it had little buzz even with Melendez attached.
On Strikeforce's end, it would have been great to go ahead with the show because they would have received the license fee from Showtime for the card, avoided paying Melendez his high guarantee of $175,000 and might have turned a profit on the show because of limited purses they would have to pay out.
3) Which is the more intriguing combat sports reality show this year? The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson or Fight Factory?
Lynch: This is a tough one because so far this season of the Ultimate Fighter has been quite entertaining, but I have to go with Fight Factory. For those not familiar, Fight Factory is the reality series airing in the States following fighters training at American Kickboxing Academy (if you do some digging online Canadian fans, you can find it) Aside from the obvious feud between Josh Koscheck and coach Javier Mendez the thing that really sets this show apart is you get to see these fighters on more of a human level. It is also a good mix of well-known guys like Josh Koscheck, Daniel Cormier and Luke Rockhold and up and coming talent like Mark Ellis. The show highlights these fighters in their training camps and their struggles both before and after their fights.
I find on the Ultimate Fighter, it's a bunch of guys stuck in a house with alcohol trying to force a storyline. Not that I'm complaining as a viewer, I've really enjoyed this season of TUF with two quality coaches in Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson, and talented fighters like Mike Ricci. Here's hoping Fight Factory can get picked up by a Canadian outlet in the near future.
Pollock: I don't think it's even a comparison that Fight Factory is the more compelling of the two. Fight Factory is not marketing to the hardcore fight fan and is much more of a set of personality pieces and it just so happens the vocation of the personalities is fighting. TUF has been long in the tooth for some time and doesn't seem to know who they are marketing towards. In my opinion, TUF should be designed to bring in people that are not fight fans and don't watch all the Facebook fights and follow the UFC as a religion. It should be everything Fight Factory is attempting to be in that fighting is the back drop and the personalities are front and centre with storytelling carrying the show rather than two guys fighting for 10-15 minutes without commentary every week.
All the top seasons of TUF featured personalities that transcended the show and connected with people, whether it be Chris Leben exposing his childhood issues and being bullied by Bobby Southworth and Josh Koscheck, to the grudge between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock in Season 3 and between Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans in Season 10. People want stories and relatable characters and the average person doesn't connect with guys in the gym training and trading notes on clinch work and by doing.