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Anatomy of a shitty main event

First off let me say I’m sorry for not posting my thoughts on Michael Bisping vs Rashad Evans as UFC 78’s main event sooner. I saw the email in my mailbox around 9am and got all excited. Fingers crossed for Tito vs Wand I opened it up to see … well, you know the story. I spent the rest of the day in a listless stupor. Honestly, I felt like a faithful dog who’d just been kicked.

Now obviously I know I’m NOT a faithful dog. If anything I’m one of those annoying yappy dogs who pisses in the bed whenever you go out for an evening. But still, you get the point. I’m not going to go over why this match-up sucks … there’s 1001 other bloggers who have already done that. Luke Thomas does a good job of explaining why it sucks, and Ben Fowlkes at Five Ounces of Pain lays out what should be the three unbreakable conditions for a UFC pay per view main event:

  1. A championship title is at stake
  2. If no title is at stake, it should be a fight to determine number one contender status
  3. It is a grudge match of some kind with special personal significance for both fighters

So we all agree, this main event is a turd straight out of Satan’s anus. But how did we get here? Did Dana White and Joe Silva conspire to hit New Jersey with the worst main event for a PPV in Zuffa’s history? Are they testing us to see how shitty a card has to be to get less than 500,000 buys? Lets take a look.

In the beginning: Oh, things were looking so good for the New Jersey show just a few months back. BJ Penn had trounced Jens Pulver at the Ultimate Fighter 5 finale and the UFC was offering him a shot at the lightweight title. This title shot was all but locked into the New Jersey card. The only question was who Penn would fight: Sean Sherk or Hermes Franca.

Unless you’ve been living under a particularly large rock, you know what happened next. At UFC 73 on July 7th, Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans fought to an uninspired draw. Tito literally gave this one away by grabbing the fence, but hey … Dana White is into head wax and rematches so a rematch was in the works before the crowd even stopped booing. Again: it was common knowledge this fight was gonna go on the UFC 78 card.

So now you’ve got a pretty sweet card: BJ Penn vs Sean Sherk for the lightweight belt and a rematch between Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz. Not too shabby at all.

And here’s where everything falls apart.

Sean Sherk tested positive for Nandrolone, and since Dana White is good friends with Sherk he refused to strip Sherk of the belt until his appeal was dealt with. While that may have seemed like a good idea at first, I dunno if Dana realized the appeal would be postponed until the ass end of October. So there goes the title fight from the card.

As for BJ Penn, there was some talk of him staying on the card and fighting someone else, but my bet is he has no interest taking a filler fight while waiting for his shot at the belt. The UFC had a hard enough time convincing him to stay at lightweight at all, so they’ve now moved him to the UFC 79 card where he’ll be able to compete for the belt, be it occupied by Sherk or vacated.

Now onto the Tito Ortiz / Rashad Evans debacle. The story going around is that Tito was trying to bend the UFC over a barrel since he knew they needed him to get this PPV off the ground. Since Tito had no problem signing a fight against Rashad the first time around, there’s only two conditions I can see that would be dealbreakers for the UFC:

  • Word is that Tito’s contract gives him a cut of PPV money on shows he headlines. If he was pushing for this and the UFC was saying the fight wasn’t a ‘headlining’ fight, that would definately be a dealbreaker.
  • Tito’s all about winning back the belt. With kryptonite Chuck Liddell finally out of the picture, I have no doubt that Tito wants another crack at it. His condition for accepting this fight might be a title shot if he wins.

Neither of these two scenarios are bad enough to constitute as Tito ass fucking the UFC. But given Tito’s relationship with Dana White, I can see how the whole thing fell apart. Tito and Dana would have a hard time agreeing on the color of grass let alone these kinds of terms. The moment Dana White felt Ortiz was trying to use the weak 78 card to his advantage was the moment he said fuck it and moved on to other options.

And there you have it: A pay per view card that started off as pretty sweet is now reduced to a main event that’s better suited for an Ultimate Fight Night.

 **Correction** We originally credited Sam Caplan with the three golden rules for a main event, when it’s actually Ben Fowlkes. But don’t worry Ben … the fact that people mistake your writing for Sam’s is a compliment all in it’s own.

  • Actually, I wrote that article for Five oz. of Pain about the three prerequisites of a main event. But I’m glad to hear someone agrees that this card is a letdown, nonetheless.

  • Sorry Ben! Fixed it up.

  • Fuck UFC. I was looking forward to seeing B.J. Penn live. Now I’m not going and I’m not buying the PPV. I’m not paying 40 dollars for a Fight Night caliber event. Dana should put this on free TV.

  • Ruggertenthousand says:

    Your right on the mark with this one. This is got to be the worst card they put forth since the they took over the Co. in 2001. Thank God they added ( not officially anyway) Houston Alexander Vs. Thiago Silva. This fight will be more interesting than the main event imo. I just picture the New York Post and The Daily News covering this seriously for the first time because it is in their back yard – and destroying the sport in print as all hype ’cause it sucked so bad. Dana and Co. have had a lot of time to think about this card since Sherk tested positive – and they waited too long, and now we are stuck. The Fans who fork out all the money for tickets and PPV deserve better. There is NO Excuse! – simply pathetic.

  • Chris says:

    To think that Dana really wants people 2 pay for this main event is a joke! When u get a chance fightlinker, read my article on why no one should even bother attending UFC 78. Its in the Friday Night Throwdown section.

  • Should have stripped Sherk sooner. First he wins the belt than decides to have surgery. Now he gets busted for steroids and holds the belt hostage again. Sherk is the worst thing to happen to the UFC lightweight division. UFC doesn’t care to much. Dana and Sherk are BFF’s and King Huerta is not ready for the top of the division.

    Is Roger Huerta UFC’s version of EliteXC’s Gina Carano?

  • Kris says:

    I don’t think it’s out of the question to move this event to Spike. We all saw how well UFC 75 did and even if this did a fraction of that show it’d be a success. It’s highly unlikely but if the UFC gets bad preliminary buy estimates I think it’s possible.

  • Thomas: Luke Thomas has an awesome article on the differences between Gina Carano and Roger Huerta. When he takes the time to write up a good post rather than just link to news, he’s the best MMA blogger around. Sometimes I want to hunt him down, slaughter him, and eat his brain to gain his powers.

    Kris: It would definitely be cool if they moved the show to Spike. But the UFC has been giving away a lot of shows to Spike, and they needs their PPV money. Even 200k buys (which they’ll get for sure) will be several times more than they’d make passing it to Spike.

  • Audacity says:

    I can see where the fight came from…but it’s not a good reason. Both fighters are undefeated (Rashad’s draw doesn’t count, it’s not a real defeat, hence it gets it’s own record category); and both fighters had lousy performances in their previous fights and need to prove that they are a good fighter. I guess that’s where the title “Validation” is coming into play. Having lousy performances and needing to prove yourself seems to get you to main event status in the UFC these days (see Keith Jardine).

  • steve24 says:

    I think the last thing the UFC needs is Tito having the belt. Talk about a boring ass champion.

  • Matt C. says:

    Anyone in the Atlantic City NJ area should tell Sherk to his face how badly he f-ed up this card and the title picture as a whole. He’s getting paid to sign autographs at the BCX show down there in a few weeks. I’m not promoting the event, just saying thats he’s going to be down there.

  • Also, It might have been good idea to have Matt Serra’s first title defense happen in NJ.

  • Tommy says:

    I don’t even see how this is FN or TUF caliber. What will a win for either one do and who cares? Even those events have better headlineing fights. I make more an hour then most my friends make a week and I still won’t buy it. I hate the thought of buying it and telling the UFC it’s ok to try and shove this crap down our throats.

  • Rollo the Cat says:

    Luke Thomas, you are full of owl shit.

    The UFC is trying to promote Huerta as ONE of the greatest LWs in the world. And some of the retard sheep in the media, like FIGHT! magazine, have been buying into it.

    Huerta’s opponents are not partcularly difficult. Evans was a 135 lb UFC first timer. Crane hadn’t fought in years and really had no wins over any good opponents except when he fought the blown out knee of Vasquez. Crane fought like it was a sport tournament and gassed in round 1. Not a tough opponent, but certainly one they can make appear to be a tough guy.

    And I have heard more than a few of Huerta’s peers making remarks about the special treatment he gets. It happens. Varner and Diaz were especially outspoken. Others ahvge been more subtle.

    40,000 dollars? Is that what Huerta makes? Overrated. Overpayed.

  • marshal says:

    I like how fightlinker provides links instead of regurgitating the BS.

  • marshal says:

    No it wasn’t sarcasm.

  • marshal says:

    That last remark wasn’t sarcasm either, the original remark was a compliment.

  • Mr. Theplague says:

    I get through my girlfriend-less days with the hope of a kickass new ppv around the corner, and Dana White hunkers down and shits directly into my mouth.

  • Stevo says:

    First things first, I maintain that Evans or Bisping get in the ring with an elite Light Heavy,( Hendersen, Jackson, Liddell, Houston Alexander thats right I said it, or forrest) THEY WILL GET WORKED. Evans can’t beat tito he hasnt finished a fight against anyone who matters, not a main event guy. Bisping is a punk, he lost that fight and he knows it and he walks around like he won the title in ten seconds. If you win act like you’ve done it before. This is the worst main event fight match up I have seen in the five years I have been following this religiously. If Keith Jardine gets a title shot after getting crushed by Alexander it would be a travesty. What happened to Arlovski and Monson in the heavyweight division, by far the weakest of the divisions by far in my opinion. Vera may beat Sylvia and the two of them are probably the best heavys out their I think Gonzaga is close Kongos ground game is terrible and Cro Cop isnt the same since he shrunk considerably since coming to the UFC (see old photos and fights). Maybe he was juicing?? (thats sarcasm) Their are alot of guys that arent getting shots that do deserve them after winning like 6 or 7 fights in a row in all divisions. I am sick of pride gusy showing up and getting a gift title fight and not earning it.