Some MMA fans have no reservations about spending $55 for every UFC pay-per-view event. For these fans, the ability to watch a night of fights in the comfort of their homes is worth the extra line-item in their monthly budget. Others, however, prefer to spend that money on food and drink at the local Spicy Crazy Wings while the promotion’s premium cards are displayed across the restaurant’s many large-screen televisions. These fans not only get to direct their hard-earned dollars in a more tangible way (i.e. beer), but also get to share the experience of a UFC event with other interested fans of MMA.
Judging by the sometimes wild fluctuations in the UFC’s pay-per-view buyrates, it appears that most MMA fans fall somewhere in the middle. They’ll spring for a handful of UFC pay-per-view cards on their own, perhaps inviting a few friends over to help defray the expense, but will also spend their money elsewhere if a particular event is not especially compelling.
If you count yourself among this group who determines their UFC viewing venue on a card-by-card basis, Combat Press has you covered. Before each of the UFC’s pay-per-view events, we’ll review the main-card fights and surrounding circumstances before determining whether you should buy it or “bar” it. This week, we’ll tackle UFC 177, taking place Aug. 30 from Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif.
It sure would be great if the first edition of Buy It or “Bar” It? was a little less clear-cut, but so much has already been written about the lack of on-paper attractions on UFC 177’s main card that the conclusion here seems fairly obvious. The event is the latest in a short series of disappointing pay-per-view scenarios that included a very low rumored buyrate for UFC 174 and the outright cancellation of UFC 176. Credit is due to the company executives for their efforts to salvage UFC 177, which in the wake of the aforementioned events was revealed to similarly contain just one marketable fight—a bantamweight title rematch between champion T.J. Dillashaw and the recently dethroned Renan Barão. In an attempt, therefore, to bolster Saturday’s somewhat lacking card weeks before the event, the company added a second title fight—this one between flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and challenger Chris Cariaso—as the co-main event. Unfortunately, an injury to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones forced the UFC to move that contest to the headlining slot of UFC 178, leaving UFC 177 once again with just Dillashaw/Barão to advertise.
This is, of course, to take nothing away from the other fighters on Saturday’s main card, but as my esteemed colleagues pointed out in their wonderful UFC 177 preview, the co-main-event-by-default between unranked lightweights Tony Ferguson and Danny Castillo more or less sets the tone for the rest of the main card. The two have a combined record of 12-4 in the UFC, so it’s not like they’re completely undeserving of attention altogether. One could even argue that Ferguson/Castillo would have been an ideal contest to open the pay-per-view portion of UFC 177 regardless of the other fights on the card. That said, their placement in the co-headlining spot despite never before having appeared on a pay-per-view main card displays perfectly the spot the UFC was put in when Johnson/Cariaso had to be moved.
The other three fights on the card are of a similar flavor. That is, the fights themselves could be all right, but their placement on the main card of a pay-per-view is questionable. Am I curious to see if Bethe Correia can continue her undefeated professional campaign by knocking off another member of the so-called Four Horsewomen? Absolutely. The lone women’s fight on the UFC 177 card will also provide fans the opportunity to see if WMMA pioneer Shayna Baszler can extend her career by notching her first official UFC victory. The problem with this fight being on pay-per-view, however, is two-fold. First, if Correia wins, she’s still probably a fight or two from a title shot against Ronda Rousey. Second, while a Baszler win would certainly make for a great story, her relationship with current women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey likely means that she’d never fight for the title as long as it’s around Rousey’s waist (and, let’s be real, it’s probably not going anywhere else anytime soon).
Intriguing? For sure. $55 intriguing? I don’t know.
After that we’ve got Ramsey Nijem taking on Carlos Diego Ferreira and Yancy Medeiros facing undefeated newcomer Damon Jackson, who steps into the Octagon on Saturday on very short notice following an injury to Justin Edwards. I can’t really say anything about Nijem/Ferreira that I haven’t already said about the other fights on this card, but if nothing else about Saturday’s event puts the thin nature of UFC 177 into sharp focus, it’s the fact that one of the fights people will have to pay $55 to watch at home features a fighter who has never before been seen in the UFC (and it ain’t Eddie Alvarez).
UFC 177 does have one good thing going for it: mystery. For starters, just because a fighter isn’t very well known doesn’t mean he’s not going to put on an exciting show. Take Clay Collard for example. The 21-year-old featherweight made his Octagon debut last weekend on just 10 days’ notice and proceeded to put on one of the most exciting displays of the evening. Collard would eventually lose to Max Holloway by TKO, but he displayed the sort of fighting spirit that no doubt made the UFC brass want to book him again as soon as possible. Perhaps we could see a similar performance from Damon Jackson, who has victoriously finished every one of his pro fights inside the distance and will no doubt want to make a splash in his first fight under the UFC’s bright pay-per-view lights.
Baszler’s official UFC debut provides a healthy dose of mystery as well. “The Queen of Spades” has had a lot of success in her decade-plus fighting professionally, and she is 5-2 since 2010. Her last fight did end in a loss, but it was to recent UFC title challenger Alexis Davis. That said, Baszler enters the Octagon on Saturday surely wanting to make the next step in her MMA career a successful one. (In fact, you can read all about Baszler’s journey from the woman herself!) Standing in Baszler’s way is the UFC’s 10th-ranked women’s bantamweight fighter, and Saturday will prove whether the 34-year-old still has what it takes to compete on an elite level.
Of course, the biggest mystery surrounding UFC 177 is whether T.J. Dillashaw’s previous success against Renan Barão was actually reflective of his talent, or if the former champion will once again show why he was looked at as one of the sport’s most dominant in recent memory. No one thought Dillashaw stood a chance against Barão at UFC 173, and the fact that the champion is just a slight betting favorite despite his enormously successful performance in May reflects both a respect for Barão’s previously demonstrated fighting prowess but also skepticism of whether Dillashaw is actually as good as he looked a few months ago. Ignoring the possibility of a 25-minute snoozefest, the main event of UFC 177 should be a great one, with either result probably worthy of an eyebrow-raise.
Again, it would be great if the inaugural Buy It or “Bar” It? guide contained some additional balance, but let’s face it: UFC 177 is one of the weakest pay-per-view cards of the last several years. Yes, the main event should help determine whether Dillashaw is the true king at 135 pounds and a few of the other fights on the pay-per-view portion do have the potential to pique the interest of hardcore MMA fans, but at the end of the day you should probably save your money for UFC 178 (which will be similarly easy to call, but in the other direction).
UFC 177: “Bar” It