The Best of Both Worlds in Vegas

ufc-209The UFC’s new owners are creating a bit of a rift between two types of fans of the UFC and the sport of MMA.

There are the fans that love the sport and watch almost every fight looking for some exciting matchups.

These are the fans that love the good matchups and don’t care about the names in the fight because they know the good fighters.

Then there are the more casual fans who maybe watch every other pay-per-view and don’t really follow the sport.

These fans love the big names and want to see fights between two name fighters regardless of how they got there.

That is the battle right now in the UFC as WME-IMG seems very interesting in making as much money as possible at any cost.

Sometimes the cost is that deserving fighters are ignored for years while big name fights are given priority despite the fact that the fighters involved might not deserve the fight.

Titles are held up to see a bigger fight and extremely good fighters are put on the back burner despite the fact that they have done everything to earn these big fights.

As good as Conor McGregor has been as a fighter he is also the leader of this new era of fighting as he has won two belts and never defended either of them.

After winning the Featherweight title he could have fought two or three more people to clean out the division but instead made the jump to lightweight which turned into the Nate Diaz fight.

Fights like these are popular because they bring more people to the UFC and more people buy the pay-per-views to watch these big fights.

The sport suffers though as they are not necessarily the best fights and there are plenty of deserving fighters who are being ignored in their prime.

They could put on better fights against a big name but they don’t sell and so they are passed over for other fights.

UFC 209 was a change in that pattern though as for the first time in a while the UFC was hosting a big fight with big names that were actually the best fights out there.

In the lightweight division, two fighters that were possibly the biggest victims of this new era were set to face off.

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson had two of the longest UFC active win streaks and yet the champion in McGregor had no interest in fighting either as they weren’t big names worldwide.

They got their chance in the co-main event to finally earn a title shot but one of the biggest issues with the rise of Nurmagomedov came back.

He was hospitalised just before the weigh-ins after another tough weight cut for the Russian depleted him too much.

The fight was off and a point McGregor made when talking about a potential fight came true as Nurmagomedov has all of the talent to fight for a title but doesn’t fight enough thanks to injuries and weight cut issues.

It left Ferguson with no fight and an uncertain future after he was about to take 8 wins into his biggest chance yet.

It was also probably the best fight on the card as they were the two best lightweights in the world, possibly both better than McGregor, and they were going to face off for an interim title.mma-sidebar.fw

It was unfortunate that it couldn’t happen but it was the co-main event because neither fighter sells and it was a chance to them to show what they had before the big fight on the night.

That big fight was a seller, maybe not for the truly casual fans that only watch for McGregor or Ronda Rousey, but for anyone who watches casually it was a rematch of one of the best fights in 2016.

That fight was the title fight between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson that ended in a majority draw leaving Woodley with the belt but no win.

Thompson was not a fighter that got a shot because he was a big name but he got the shot because he was the best in the division and did it in exciting fashion.

The rematch was the only fight to make in the division and it was a rare moment where casual and diehard fans could agree.

The first fight was a tough one as Woodley seemed to have the early advantage in the wrestling but he ignored it when he caught Thompson and almost finished the fight.

It turned into a stand-up fight that Thompson began to win but he didn’t have enough time to make up the deficit leading to the draw.

This time around both fighters came in very calculated in their plans as neither wanted to come forward with the danger of a finish.

The majority of the fight saw both fighters take a tour around the octagon landing a few shots here and there but nothing major.

Woodley got a takedown and almost finished the fight in the fifth round with his first big flurry of the night.

That takedown and the almost finish was enough for Woodley to take the fight decision in another too-close-to-call fight.

It was a Majority Decision and not the most convincing win but a win nonetheless as Woodley retains his belt.

An immediate rematch is probably not going to happen but if Thompson continues to win he could be back in the title picture.

Woodley will go on to defend his belt again possibly in a rematch against Robbie Lawler or another top contender.

The main event might not have lived up to the hype but the fact was that this was one card created that everyone could agree was the best matchup to make for selling the fight and for purists.

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