Posted 02/28/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA

The Ultimate Fighter: China Finale Preview

Fight Pass launches tomorrow. Maybe you thought Fight Pass launched a couple months ago. Not true. It launches tomorrow. The past two months have been an extended free trial or an awkward beta test, depending on who you ask.

The UFC has made strides. You can now cancel your subscription without having to email support. Password encryption is safer. The library is growing. These improvements sound meager, which goes to show how poor a product the UFC released in December.

Tomorrow’s “official” launch, one hopes, is far from the target product. The library still has gaps in UFC events, let alone Pride, Strikeforce, and the rest of the library. Search is in an embarrassing state for an internet service in 2014. The web page is organized like a bad Tumblr. Yet, the UFC is about to start collecting their monthly $10.

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The UFC’s biggest problem may be convincing people of Fight Pass’s value. I’ve hardly used the service outside the first Fight Night Fight Pass event and undercard prelims. I’ve heard from people who signed up for the free trial and canceled this week without ever using it. It’s hard to blame them.

What attracts the casual fan to Fight Pass? The Fight Night events take place at weird hours and feature C-level main events. The curtain-jerker prelims involve mostly unknown fighters, and was a product the UFC offered for free up until a couple months ago. The fight library sounds great in theory, but it’s a tool more useful for professional gamblers, fight analysts, and head trainers. I’ve watched none of the “original programming,” though I can imagine only the saddest of MMA fans have any interest in it. It seems Fight Pass, in its current form, targets the hardcore fight fan.

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Oh, there are fights tomorrow, and, you know, all things considered, this isn’t a half-bad card, though I wouldn’t expect anyone to wake up at the crack of dawn to watch.

Dong Hyun Kim looks to continue his streak of wins on buried foreign Fight Nights. He’s defeated Paulo Thiago, Siyar Bahadurzada, and Erick Silva since the flukey loss to Demian Maia. You’d expect that run, combined with his official ranking at 11, would get him a higher-profile fight against, say, a Tyron Woodley or a Tarec Saffiedine or even a rematch with Matt Brown. Instead, Kim takes on a guy who hasn’t fought in 17 months.

John Hathaway was a rising prospect with wins over Rick Story, Paul Taylor, and Diego Sanchez. A loss to Mike Pyle set him back before recovering with a less-impressive streak over Kris McCray, Pascal Krauss, and John Maguire. A bout with Erick Silva last April was scrapped with Hathaway later revealing dealing with ulcerative colitis. The Maguire fight took place on September 29 of 2012, and Hathaway makes his return against one of the biggest and most physical welterweights in the UFC.

In the co-main, someone named Sai Wang fights someone else named Lipeng Zhang in the Ultimate Fighter finale. It’s OK if you’ve already forgotten their names.

Matt Mitrione meets Shawn Jordan in a battle of guys who were finished within the first round in their last fights.

Back in the summer of 2012, Hatsu Hioki chose to fight Ricardo Lamas instead of Jose Aldo in a decision that continues to look worse every day. Hioki dropped the fight to Lamas then went on to lose to both Clay Guida and Darren Elkins in debatable decisions. He now opens the main card of a Fight Pass Fight Night against Ivan Menjivar, who is 1-3 in his last four.

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Can we talk about five-round fights for a second? Well, yes, Michael, we can talk about five-round fights for a second. It’s your column. Stop it with this meta shit; it’s not cute.

One of my main arguments back when I was having to argue the UFC should expand five-round fights outside of championship bouts was that it was silly that two bums on the regional circuit were fighting five rounds because some joke of a title was on the line, while the UFC limited elite fighters to three rounds because neither possessed a strap of leather with gold attached to it.

We’ve sort of come full circle, and the issue needs to be re-addressed. Dong Hyun Kim (no. 11) and John Hathaway (unranked, hasn’t fought in 17 months) are fighting five rounds tomorrow. In two weeks, Carlos Condit (no. 2) and Tyron Woodley (no. 10) will fight for three rounds in a bout that has serious title ramifications. This is insane.

The UFC needs to liberalize their use of five-round fights. Here’s a good criteria:

-Any title eliminator
-Any fight involving a former champion
-Any fight involving to men ranked in the top 10 or 15

I think they should go further, but that’s a good start.

Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter

Mike Fagan