UFC 228 Preview

ufc-228Prizefighting has always been a bit of strange sport for the culture that it brings and the fringe attitude that so many fans and fighters have.

Although the UFC has done some spectacular things in bringing the sport of MMA as close to mainstream as it has ever been there is still a big barrier to get through.

General fans aren’t too in love with two people essentially trying to hurt each other in a cage, despite the regulations and rules that the UFC made to get closer to the mainstream.

The diehard fans have a completely different attitude about fighting as they are the ones who want to see that type of competition.

For diehards, it is one of the purest forms of competition as there are few questions about who is better when someone gets knocked out or submitted.

As the sport gets more mainstream though, the UFC is caught in a strange place where they want to be treated like other major leagues but that move takes them further from that fringe attitude of the fans.

The shift is what led to this new era of fighting where talkers are getting more attention than the better fighters.

What that shift has also done, which takes a lot less focus, is the move by the fighters who are becoming more professional with their careers.

It might be the least popular thing for fans in the UFC as there is an attitude from fans who have been following for 20 years that fighters should simply fight.

Some of the most popular fighters in the history of the UFC have been those fighters who will quite literally fight anytime and anywhere.

Those fighters are becoming less and less as more of the athletes in the UFC and other promotions are taking this as a far more serious career than fighters in the past.

Many fighters are beginning to realize their worth in the sport and beginning to pick and choose who they fight and when.

As much as it bothers fans, it is the smart move for athletes who are guaranteed some sort of injury or injuries throughout a career that is remarkably short.

They go into a cage and get hit in the head on a regular basis and so their careers don’t necessarily last the longest.

With that in mind, many are becoming more strategic with how they build their careers making sure to take fights that will move them further along and set them up for bigger paydays.

Many fighters are now coming into the promotion looking to quickly get to the title, take a belt, defend the belt a few times and then get out with some of their health and a fair amount of money.

It all started with, like everything in this era, Conor McGregor who took a strategy to become the biggest name in the sport after only three years in and seven fights.

Other names in the UFC noticed and are no longer taking any fight at any time instead choosing to pick the right fights that will help their name and career.

It has annoyed plenty of fans but in the grand scheme of things they are playing it smart for their careers.

The fighters who have the most power are doing it more and more and at UFC 228 two such fighters are going to return to the octagon after long layoffs.

Nicco Montaño doesn’t have a big name yet but after winning The Ultimate Fighter to claim the first Women’s Flyweight championship she has a little power.

She is the champion and after winning had to deal with a viral infection but that didn’t stop many from believing she was just ducking fights.mma-sidebar.fw

She could have accepted her first title defence after taking the title in December 2017 but instead focused on getting healthy.

There was certainly pressure from fans and the UFC to get into the octagon rather than hold up a brand new division.

Instead, she focused on getting healthy and being at her best in her first title defence which will be against the woman that many believe was the reason for the division.

Valentina Shevchenko is one of the most skilled women in the UFC but she hasn’t been able to capture a championship in the bantamweight division.

Flyweight is more natural for her and she will get a chance at her first title against a relatively unknown fighter who surprised everyone with her win on the Ultimate Fighter.

The bigger name on the card will be Tyron Woodley who has taken a step back from the octagon despite earning the welterweight title.

He took the belt from Robbie Lawler in 2016 then put up two boring fights against Stephen Thompson and last defended the belt against Demian Maia more than a year ago.

The layoff has been a mix of focusing on other projects while also making sure he doesn’t just take any fight.

For Woodley, the next title challenger would be someone worthy of a shot and someone who will help him with gaining recognition that the champion has not had.

That fight was supposed to be one of the bigger names in the division in Colby Covington who has played the heel role so well.

The UFC changed their mind though and instead gave Woodley a matchup against another fast-rising star in Darren Till.

This fight will gain just as much attention though as Till seems like the second coming of McGregor with a belief in his trash talk that nobody but the Irishman has.

Both Woodley and Montaño will get back to the octagon after months away but that is becoming the norm.

Champion shave that ability, to an extent, to pick and choose when and who they will fight.

If it doesn’t make sense both for health reasons or for reason regarding their career trajectory they don’t necessarily feel the same pressure they used to feel.

At UFC 228 the layoffs will come under scrutiny as either smart or terrible decisions but either way, both fighter will gain some attention through this card.


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