Before we start, let’s just clear up what’s about to happen.
Renan Barao looks to have suffered in the weight cutting process for this fight and is currently hospitalised as a result of losing consciousness after hitting his head when falling due to dizziness and is obviously out of tonight’s main event.
While this news is deflating, I’m going to try and outline the facets of UFC 177 that are worth tuning in for.
We got so close to having a prelim calibre PPV main card that was headlined by an intriguing rematch in which we would see whether UFC Bantamweight Champion, T.J. Dillashaw would be able to replicate his stunning performance from UFC 173 where he upset the apple cart in dethroning the seemingly unmatched Barao. Now, we have T.J. Dillashaw defending his belt against Joe Soto. First off, no disrespect intended to Joe Soto, but Joe Soto? Really? And this a PPV card that people are expected to shell out money for? OK, sure.
This will be Soto’s UFC debut and having originally been slated to take on Anthony Birchak, Soto now finds himself in the biggest fight of his career and facing the opportunity of a lifetime. Getting a title shot in your first Octagon appearance is normally reserved for those in superfight territory and while Soto has held belts in Bellator (Featherweight champ in 2009) and Tachi Palace Fights (vacated Bantamweight belt to fight on this card), this is not familiar territory. However, should Soto pull off the upset, we could have the most unexpected UFC champion in the promotion’s history.
Bethe Correia and her pursuit of ‘The Four Horsewomen’
You might be unaware, but UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and her training partners Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir and Shayna Baszler refer to themselves as ‘The Four Horsewomen’, a tip of the hat to the infamous professional wrestling stable ‘The Four Horsemen’ led by the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. Now, Correia inserted herself in to all this when she defeated Duke back at UFC 172, turned to camera, held up four fingers and put one down to signal that she was coming for Rousey and that she was prepared to go through her stablemates to get there.
Correia now takes on Baszler and if she can take her out in impressive, noteworthy fashion, Correia could mark herself out as an alternative match-up to potential Rousey bouts with Cat Zingano, Holly Holm or Gina Carano due to the heat that Correia may be able to provoke. This is a narrative you could quite probably sell to the casual fan, the kind of WWE storyline that you are so used to seeing and it could work, just as long as you focused purely on the story of Correia’s victories rather than the inner workings of a Rousey/Correia tangle, as that would not take long to pick apart.
UFC 177’s PPV buy-rate
Well, this one isn’t necessarily an endorsement of why you should be watching this card, but it is a reason for you to keep an eye on UFC 177 once it’s in the books.
The MMA over-saturation topic is one that has been done to death, but it is occurrences like this that force people in to thinking that the UFC is spreading itself too thin and that it is becoming an inferior product to what it was just a few short years ago. It’s a point that is hard to ignore when you see the UFC cancelling UFC 151 in 2012, the first time they ever had to do this, and UFC 176 earlier this year, both due to the collapse of their main event and inability of the rest of the fight card to justify it’s status as a PPV event. When you throw UFC 174 in to the mix, headlined by Demetrious Johnson and Ali Bagautinov, an event that generated around 100,000 buys, the worst performance of a UFC PPV since 2005’s UFC 53, the message must be getting through to the UFC’s top brass.
The performance of this event in terms of how many people bother to lay out cash for it on PPV could well be a watershed moment for the UFC depending on the buy-rate and could see a change in approach of how they set up their PPV cards in the future.