UFC 163: Aldo vs Korean Zombie Preview
By Mike Fagan, July 31st, 2013
UFC 163 will be the only UFC PPV held outside of North America in 2013. You have to go back to 2007 to find a year that the UFC held less than two foreign PPVs during a calendar year. Remember the UFC in 2007? Chuck Liddell! Weirdly named events! With single words! (Victory! Knockout! Validation!) The Ultimate Fighter was still interesting! (Sort of.)
The company isn’t neglecting overseas markets, though. By year’s end, the UFC will have run 12 shows outside North America. Those show are being broadcast on Fuel and FX, and will continue on Fox Sports 1 when that channel launches next month.
It makes sense. Foreign shows tend to underperform at the PPV box office, which you can probably attribute to a lack of North American media coverage and the reliance on local talent. By moving these shows onto free TV, they save PPV buys that might otherwise have been lost in translation.
Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung
-Aldo enters as an 8-1 favorite, and the most interesting question (and wager) regarding the fight is how long the Korean Zombie lasts. We should have an exciting fight whether Aldo ends it in the first or Jung lasts all five rounds. Jung throws at a high volume, and absorbs a lot of strikes in the process. That fits Aldo’s game perfectly. Jung’s pretty durable, Skeletor Kick aside, and he could find himself on the wrong side of an extended beating if he doesn’t adjust his gameplan. For our sake, let’s hope he doesn’t.
-Is it time to start asking when Aldo makes the move to lightweight? A win over Jung would mark his 13th at featherweight between the WEC and UFC, and his eighth straight victory in title fights since beating Mike Brown in 2009. He’s beaten current no. 1 Chad Mendes, no. 3 Frankie Edgar, no. 4 Cub Swanson, and Jung is currently ranked at no. 5. Ricardo Lamas is the mystery man at no. 4.
The jump to 155 pounds is the easiest to make (by percentage of body weight), and it’s reasonable to assume Aldo could jump back and forth if he (or the UFC) so desired. Otherwise, will anyone cry about missing out on Aldo-Lamas when we could, instead, see Aldo-Bendo, Aldo-Melendez, and the Aldo-Pettis fight we were supposed to see on Saturday, instead at 155?
-This should be the worst-performing UFC PPV for the rest of the year. Aldo has headlined two other PPVs. He drew 215k buys against Mendes at UFC 142, and his “superfight” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) with Edgar brought in 330k this past January. UFC 163 is in Brazil, with an uncompetitive headliner, and a poor undercard. I doubt it will break 225k, and a sub-200k number is very possible.
Fortunately, the UFC is well-positioned the rest of the year. Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis – with a much better card overall – should improve on this event, and then comes the heavy hitters. Jon Jones in September, the Velasquez-dos Santos rubber match in October, Georges St-Pierre in November, and the big year-end show with Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva, and Ronda Rousey. You’ll also have a BIG FOX show earlier in December with a ton of NFL hype behind it, which will give the UFC an opportunity to sell the rematch to a big audience on network television.
This is the calm before the storm. Or maybe we’re in the storm, and we’re waiting for the rainbow. Or, shit, flowers. Flowers come after storms, right? Right.
There’s a lot of good PPV coming up.
Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis
-#FiveRounds #FiveRounds #FiveRounds #FiveRounds #FiveRounds
-The UFC’s handling of Phil Davis’s career is…uh…interesting. He enters the UFC at 4-0, and wins his first four fights in the promotion. He steps in for an injured Tito Ortiz and beats “Minotouro” Nogueira. Then they throw him in as the headliner against Rashad Evans in the first “real” BIG FOX show.
Compare that to Jon Jones. Jones entered the UFC at 6-0. His fifth fight in the company was Brandon Vera. Then Vladimir Matyushenko. Then Ryan Bader. Then the title against Shogun. Then drunk driving.
Or how about Jones’s opponent in September, Alexander Gustafsson? Gustafsson entered the UFC at 8-0, lost his second fight to Davis, and then took four cupcakes before beating “Gorilla Piss” Silva and the Ghost of Shogun’s Past.
Back to Davis, though. After losing to Evans, it took two fights to put away Wagner Prado (thank god they rebooked this fight after an accidental eyepoke no contest!) before dominating Vinny Magalhaes in April. Now he fights Machida, who’s a bad matchup for anyone and looks to be a terrible matchup on paper for Davis.
It makes more sense for Davis to have fought Dan Henderson instead of Rashad (Evans and Henderson met at UFC 161 in a disaster of a PPV), who could have met Machida in a Stanky Leg Rematch.
Davis is still only 28. Rashad is 33, Machida is 35, and Henderson is either 37 or 53, depending on if a commission grants him a TRT TUE. Davis is entering his prime, and with his looks and personality, is someone the UFC should have no problem marketing. Instead, they’re setting him up to fail again.
Cezar Ferreira vs. Thiago Santos
Thales Leites vs. Tom Watson
John Lineker vs. Jose Tome
-Oh no, that’s not your Facebook prelim card. That’s the rest of the PPV undercard. I hear Ferreira won the inaugural TUF: Brazil. So, OK. And I’d guess Lineker is who they’re lining up as the next challenger for Demetrious Johnson (though Linker is ranked 7th while 3rd-ranked Ian McCall wastes away on FX).
But what in the hell are Thales Leites and Tom Watson doing here? Watson’s split his two fights in the promotion, and, hey, credit to the man, won the fight and KO of the night bonuses in his last fight in February.
Leites, though? Man, Leites. He hasn’t been seen in the UFC since washing out in 2009. That would be the Anderson Silva debacle at UFC 97, and then a split decision loss to Alessio Sakara (yes, THAT Alessio Sakara) at UFC 101. He’s 6-1 outside the UFC, but that includes trading submissions with Matt Horwich and beating Jeremey Horn (yes, THAT Jeremey Horn) by decision. Split decision. (Again, THAT Jeremy Horn by SPLIT decision.)
Yeah, yeah. Leites is Brazilian and blah blah blah. He’s 31, and an also-ran in a stacked division. Stick him on FX, Brazil will still see him, and feature another flyweight on the main card.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at FightFansRadio.com, also available as a podcast via iTunes.