Posted 07/14/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA

UFC Fight Night 45: Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller Preview

The poster for UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller is pretty awesome. It’s black and white with colored lighting tint. Donald Cerrone wears his signature cowboy hat and faces away from frame, his “CERRONE” back tattoo prominently featured. Jim Miller, the “hometown” fighter in Atlantic City, is awkwardly placed in the back, hands on hips in a generic pose. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s a departure from the now typical cut-and-paste UFC poster, and it’s surprising considering the stature of this event. Does the UFC (or Fox Sports 1) have some sentimental attachment to this thing? Was a UFC graphic designer (do they do this in-house?) playing around with this event on his own time and happened to catch the eye of someone important? Whatever it is, it’s a nice parallel for a fun and relevant mid-week Fight Night card.


I feel like I’ve spent the last month deriding the way the UFC constructs its cards. They are putting on great fights, but they’re spread out evenly through the pay-per-views, Fox network shows, FS1/FS2 Fight Nights, and Fight Pass events. There’s no criteria for what makes a fight suitable for PPV, and it leads to the whole “one big fight” boxing model that the UFC used to use as the oranges to their apples. (Ironically, boxing seems to have learned a valuable lesson from the UFC.)

So, instead of complaining, let’s be proactive. Here, in my mind, is how fights should be allocated among the UFC’s card types.

Card Type Fight Slot Description Examples
PPV Main Event Title fights Jones vs. Gustafsson, Weidman vs. Machida
PPV Co-Main* Lower weight title fights, title eliminators, hyped grudge matches, relevant fights at 170+ Johnson vs. Bagautinov, Lawler vs. Brown
PPV Main Card Relevant fights at any weight, fading names, breakout prospects Munoz vs. Mousasi, W. Silva vs. Sonnen, Conor McGregor’s next fight
PPV Prelim Action fights, decent names to lead into PPV, “rookie” fights Faber vs. Caceres, Holloway vs. Fili
Fox Main Event Lower weight title fights, title eliminators, hyped grudge matches (see “PPV co-main”) Lawler vs. Brown, Werdum vs. Browne, flyweight/bantamweight title fights
Fox Main Card Action fights, relevant fights at any weight, breakout prospects Johnson vs. Davis, Cerrone vs. Barboza
Fox Prelim See “PPV prelim” See “PPV prelim”
Fox Sports 1 Main Event Title eliminators and relevant fights at 170 or below, bigger action fights at any weight, fading names Swanson vs. Stephens, Brown vs. Silva, Bisping vs. Le
Fox Sports 1 Main Card Action fights, lesser relevant fights at any weight, prospect showcases, KO threats, recovering mid-level names Palelei vs. Rosholt, Drysdale vs. Berish, Story vs. Ozkilic
Fox Sports 1 Prelim “Rookie” fights, “struggling” prospects, wily veterans S. Pettis vs. Meza, Blanco vs. Ogle
Fight Pass Main Event Region-relevant fights, fringe top ten guys at best Te Huna vs. Marquardt, Saffiedine vs. Lim
Fight Pass Main Card Region-relevant fights, struggling UFC mainstays Oliveira vs Hioki, Hioki vs. Menjivar
Fight Pass Prelim Regional crap You get the idea

* – This should be five rounds as well.

This would accomplish a couple things for the UFC:

1) Provide quality, top-to-bottom PPV main cards.
2) Help the casual audience both in terms of what fights and fighters are important/worth following

Wednesday’s Fight Night event fits pretty well into this criteria. Cerrone vs. Miller fulfills the “relevant fight at 170 or below”; Barboza vs. Dunham is relevant, but not at the same level as the main event; Rick Story is an OK name working back from a loss; and John Lineker is a one-man action fight. Tibau vs. Healy probably deserves a main card slot, but it’s fine as the “prelim headliner” as well. All-in-all, really solid stuff.


Atlantic City used to be a regular stop for the UFC. The first event, UFC 28, was the last event promoted by SEG in the United States. Zuffa would travel there four more times through 2005 before a seven-year layoff. They would return with the Maynard vs. Guida FX event at the Revel Casino, and now bring Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller nearly two years after that.

And maybe this marks the last UFC event ever in Atlantic City. Today, the Trump Plaza Hotel became the fourth Atlantic City casino closure this year. Revel, which opened in 2012 and also hosts Wednesday’s event, filed for its second bankruptcy in just over a year, and will shut down if a buyer can’t be found. The UFC will continue to travel to New Jersey often until New York’s regulation mess is sorted out, but those events have often taken place in Newark (with one show in East Rutherford).

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