The Curse of Ratings

On the most recent episode of ESPNs MMA Live, the prediction was unanimous: Couture-Lesnar will break all UFC PPV records. That's good for the business, good for the fighters and (hopefully) good for the sport. But it certainly stinks for the UFC heavyweights.

At UFC 81 Nogueira defeated Tim Sylvia in the third round with a guillotine choke to become the interim heavyweight champion. Minotauro became the first fighter to hold both the UFC and PRIDE heavyweight championships. That's quite an accomplishment.

Then, when Couture gave up his legal battle (which was un-winnable in the first place), he resumes his spot as the reigning UFC heavyweight champ.

Realistically, his first fight back should have been against Minotauro. Period.

Instead, Minotauro and Frank Mir are stuck in reality TV hell, working towards a title fight that was promised but will never happen. And men's soap opera star (a.k.a. "WWE") Brock Lesnar will get a shot at the title against Couture, despite the fact that he has yet to earn such a shot.

Meanwhile, you have Fedor Emelianenko's manager suggesting that "Dana White Wants To Destroy Randy Couture." I have to be honest, that was my first thought when I heard the announcement of Couture's return and upcoming fight.What better way to get revenge against Couture than by setting up a potentially embarrassing upset by a "pro wrassler" turned MMA wanna-be.

After thinking it through, I can only assume it's more a case of logistics (Nog is busy) and ratings (Lesnar is a much bigger draw for the casual fan). Dana White is really hoping that by making Lesnar his golden boy, he can draw in all the WWE fans. That way there will be more folks to boo the real MMA tacticians (unless the fighters get thrown out the cage and hit each other with chairs, in which case they would cheer wildly).

Of course, the real issues won't arise until after the bout. If Couture looses, will he be deemed as irrelevant (the same moniker that White keeps assigning to Fedor)? And who will they make him fight afterwards?

If Couture wins (which I suspect he will), what happens to Mir and Nog? Will the two best fighters (Nog and Couture) finally get a chance to face off, or will more ratings issues get in the way?
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About Eric Wilbanks

Brand strategist. Wordsmith. Change architect. Training specialist. DiSC Certified. Family guy (hot wife and 4 cool kids). Love my Bible, guitars, baseball, and MMA.


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