UFC Fight Night 46: Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao Preview
We’re heading into the final stretch of a great run of UFC events spanning the entirety of the UFC programming platforms. Saturday’s event airs live on Fight Pass from Dublin, Ireland, with local boy wunderkind Conor McGregor headlining against Diego Brandao. Gunnar Nelson’s there! Brad Pickett is fighting Ian McCall! Sounds like an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
A funny thing happened in Boston last August. The UFC put a lot of promotional horsepower behind a featherweight with a 1-0 record fighting on the prelims – and not even the prelim “main event” leading into the main card; just a prelim. That fighter, of course, was Conor McGregor.
It shouldn’t be that unusual. The UFC is a fight promotion, and fight promotions promote fights, and fight promotions, by consequence, promote fighters. But THIS IS the UFC, and the UFC prefers promoting the brand over any individual fighters, and, goodness gracious, how is Jon Jones not a huge star right now?
So, it’s a little strange when the UFC up and PUSHES a guy who just made his debut. It was a little over the top – Joe Rogan seemed blown away that the TD Garden crowd got up for a legit Irish guy from Ireland, but it was a breath of fresh air. And effective. I didn’t know Conor McGregor before August 17, 2013. I know him now, and, despite being out of action for a year recovering from a torn ACL, I’m looking forward to his fight on Saturday.
It’s not a strategy the UFC should pull constantly. For one, it’s liable to backfire (and it may still with McGregor). For two, they already have a problem promoting every fighter on the roster the same way. (In what may be the ultimate example of malpromotion, Joe Rogan suggested Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida was a “classic striker versus grappler matchup.”)
This all goes back to honest fight promotion. I know that sounds like the worst sort of oxymoron, and fight promotion is always going to entail some sort of embellishment, but the UFC needs to understand that not everyone on the roster can be a “killer” or a “monster” or “always improving” or “well-rounded” or the other thousands of now-meaningless descriptors they like to use. Only a small number of fighters – athletes, really – can be elite, so you’re gonna have to find a different way to showcase everyone else.
A LOOK BACK AT THE UFC’S DEEP IRISH IMPRINT
UFC Fight Night 46 will be the promotion’s first trip to Ireland in five years. That event, UFC 93, featured a headliner between Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson (at light heavyweight) with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Mark Coleman supporting in the co-main. Some random factoids:
-Only six of the card’s twenty fighters are active UFC fighters. That includes Martin Kampmann, who is on hiatus, Dennis Siver, on suspension for a positive drug test, and Henderson, who is about to retire any time now.
-Rousimar Palhares’s decision win over Jeremy Horn was one of only two UFC fights Palhares did not win by submission. (The other? A decision win over Dan Miller at UFC 134.)
-That was Horn’s 13th and final appearance in the UFC. He made his promotional debut on May 15, 1998, against Frank Shamrock at UFC 17. He went 6-7 in his UFC career.
-Denis Kang lost his UFC debut to Alan Belcher. He would bounce back with a win over Xavier Foupa-Pokam before a TKO loss to Michael Bisping. The UFC cut him, and he hasn’t fought for the promotion since.
-John Hathaway made his UFC debut, defeating Tom Egan by TKO. Hathaway is 7-2 in the UFC, and is coming off a brutal spinning backfist KO loss to Dong Hyun Kim.
-Despite the loss to Rua, Mark Coleman would fight twice more inside the Octagon. He, somehow, defeated Stephan Bonnar by decision at UFC 100 before losing (and losing consciousness) to Randy Couture at UFC 109 in the promotion’s only hall-of-famer vs. hall-of-famer fight.
-UFC 93 sold 350,000 pay-per-views despite taking place in Ireland and featuring a non-title affair in the main event. Of the last ten UFC pay-per-views listed at MMAPayout.com’s blue book, only two have surpassed that number: UFC 167, featuring Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks, and UFC 168, featuring Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva, and Ronda Rousey.
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.