Posted 08/28/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA
 
 

UFC 177: T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao II Preview

If you told me last year that Bellator would put on a pay-per-view that reportedly sell somewhere in the six-figure ranged AND that the UFC would put on not one but two pay-per-views that would struggle to hit that same six-figure mark, I would douse you in gasoline, set you on fire with a flamethrower, and curse you back to whichever hell you came from. Yet, it’s August of 2014, and rumors abound that Bellator 120 did over 100k and UFC 174 fell short. And here comes UFC 177, which originally was a B-level PPV event with two sub-featherweight title fights and then became a glorified Fight Night when half those title fights moved to UFC 178 thanks to an Alistair Overeem takedown.

The better half of the title fight twin bill remains with T.J. Dillashaw defending his newly minted bantamweight title in a rematch with Renan Barao. That’s good, because this undercard topped by a lopsided sham of a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Chris Cariaso would be the new barometer of the UFC’s ability to draw on brand alone.

That does not change the fact that this event is little more than a glorified Fight Night with a $60 price tag. The co-main – Tony Ferguson vs. Danny Castillo – features two guys who I wouldn’t be able to differentiate if the UFC production truck blew up mid-show. The rest of the main card is crap with the exception of Bethe Correia and the pro wrestling storyline involving her knocking off Ronda Rousey’s horse women, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

DILLASHAW VS. BARAO, PART DEUX

There was some hemming and hawing when the UFC announced T.J. Dillashaw’s first title defense would come against the man he beat for the title. This is dumb because Barao is the only fight that makes sense for Dillashaw.

Yes, Dillashaw lost a split decision to Raphael Assuncao less than a year ago. But Assuncao came down with a rib injury at UFC 170, and had to turn down the shot that Dillashow eventually wound up with at UFC 173. Assuncao’s next fight is scheduled for October, so either Assuncao needed the extra time to heal up or the UFC is saving face with their scheduling. In either case, Assuncao sounds like some organic orange juice brand to the majority of the sport public, and Dillashaw vs. Assuncao would make UFC 177 the least-compelling PPV since I started following the sport in earnest back in 2007.

There’s also a whole thing that, despite Dillashaw winning a one-sided fight, Barao was a 7-1 favorite heading into UFC 173. He’s a +130 underdog now, which means we’re talking less than a 60/40 spread without the vig. We saw a sub-par Barao fight the absolute best T.J. Dillashaw, and it’s worth running it twice to smooth out the variance a bit.

TO BE THE WOMAN – WOOOO! – YOU GOTTA BEAT THE WOMAN TO GET THE WOMAN TO GET THE WOMAN

Bethe Correia beat one of Ronda Rousey’s horse women, Jessamyn Duke, in her last fight at UFC 172. So, the UFC matched her up with another of the horse women, Shayna Baszler, despite Correia being undefeated and Baszler coming off an official loss to Alexis Davis in Invicta and an unofficial loss to Julianna Pena on The Ultimate Fighter. That’s OK, though, because the women’s bantamweight division is anything but settled, and any sort of interest they can drive outside of Rousey is a plus.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen nothing promoting this fight, which is strange because this card is devoid of star power and can use any narrative help it can find. It’s nice that this is an angle they (hopefully?) exploit during the event itself, but that does nothing to bringing any additional eyeballs to watching it. Of course, this should not surprise us coming from the promotion who feels that cookie-cutter promos with Rogan “OOOOOH-ing” and Goldberg “What a fight-ing” and Anik token line-ing sell fights.

AN HONEST-TO-GOD OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST

Henry Cejudo makes his UFC debut, which should be a big deal because Henry Cejudo won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Yet, Cejudo finds himself on FS1 in an underhyped (no-hyped) prelim fight.

To be fair, the UFC doesn’t want to throw a ton of resources at a guy who could wash out of the sport quickly. He’s dealt with multiple weight cutting issues and legal snafus, and he’s only six fights into his pro career.

At the same time, it’s not everyday you can promote an Olympic medalist, let alone an Olympic gold medalist. And while Scott Jorgensen is a beatable opponent, he’s still ranked in the top 15 in the UFC’s official rankings. They obviously believe in him enough against a decent enough opponent, so why not let the world know he’s fight on the card?

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