The 1st UFC pay per view event of 2020 UFC 246 is almost here. Conor McGregor versus Donald Cerrone takes place this Saturday night live from Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena and as fans, we are excited to see who goes home with the belt, oh wait, there is no belt being contested in the main event, or on the card at all! That’s weird, isn’t it?
The main event is Donald Cerrone versus Conor McGregor at welterweight. Even more interesting, Dana white said if McGregor wins he gets the next shot at the Lightweight title against Khabib Nurmagomedov should he retain the belt after fighting Tony Ferguson.
Fans of the UFC over the years have definitely become used to seeing at least one championship fight when they dole out their hard-earned money to watch a UFC numbered event on pay-per-view. However, with UFC 246 this weekend and UFC 244 late last year, 2 of the last 3 numbered events have not had an actual title on the line. Yes, UFC 244 had the BMF title, but that isn’t a “real belt”, and at the end of the day as exciting of a fight as that was between Masvidal and Diaz, It caused no movement or change with any of the actual belts in any division.
Could this be the beginning of a new formula for the UFC and their parent company Endeavor?
We may be witnessing another evolution in the UFC. Pay per view cards without actual belts on the line may just become more of a thing as we move into the new decade.
Like the rest of you out there, I love seeing title fights. I enjoy seeing the culmination of a fighter’s hard work being rewarded with the opportunity to fight for gold and the recognition as the best fighter in their weight class should they be victorious! I also believe that those fights should be showcased on the biggest stage possible, and that is at the top of a UFC numbered pay-per-view event.
Also, like the rest of you when I spend my hard-earned money on a pay per view card, I’ve become used to expecting to see those UFC belts contested. Especially now that the price of those pay per view cards have gone up $5.
None of this is to say that a fight card without a belt on the line can’t be exciting or sell, we’ve seen that both things can happen.
UFC 244 had no belts on the line and supposedly did great numbers, although since the UFC and ESPN have joined forces, it seems that we never hear the actual pay-per-view numbers. It’s also noteworthy that while we were told numbers before, those numbers were probably a little exaggerated than what they actually were.
UFC 202 McGregor vs Diaz 2 did amazing numbers, I believe the 2nd highest buy rate in promotional history. This card had no bouts with gold on the line, but Conor sells fights! Of course with the build-up to this card after Diaz dispatched of McGregor at UFC 196, it had a lot of hype going into the build-up and those 2 guys collectively carried that event.
Masvidal versus Diaz (there’s that Nate fella again) proved that McGregor isn’t the only fighter in the promotion that can carry a main event without an actual belt on the line.
While the idea of the BMF belt was fun for conversations, at the end of the day it doesn’t really mean anything. These 2 guys wanted to fight each other and we all wanted to see it. Even without the BMF belt on the line, this event would have been just fine, and the numbers probably wouldn’t have varied much regardless of that BMF title.
Can the UFC present non-title pay per view cards on a regular basis and be successful at it?
The answer to that question is maybe. It’s always going to depend on who the UFC thinks can carry the load.
McGregor and Diaz have proven their value in non-title pay-per-view events, both have actually done it twice. If you wanna get technical, Diaz has actually been involved in 3 numbered events that didn’t have a title fight for the main event. UFC 196 was headlined by McGregor versus Diaz and had a co-main event for the women’s bantamweight title between Holly Holm and Miesha Tate. While many were interested in the co-main event, make no mistake, the world was watching because of McGregor and Diaz.
There is a very limited amount of athletes on that roster today that have the power to carry a pay-per-view card without gold on the line.
McGregor and Diaz are proven commodities, Jon Jones even without a belt around his waist would sell, Georges St. Pierre could do it, I think Jorge Masvidal is capable as well. Not sure who else on the roster today could.
One of the reasons that we haven’t in the past, or may not always get a title fight on a PPV card moving forward is injuries. Champions get hurt, all fighters sustain injuries doing what they do, it’s part of the business. It truly makes matchmaking a nightmare when champions aren’t available.
The UFC could continue as they’ve done in the past, to create interim title bouts when actual champions are unavailable, but for me, I would much rather see an exciting card that doesn’t include an interim title that was made to placate the fans, or save a card. Not a fan of it at all because the interim belts have been thrown around irresponsibly in the past in my opinion.
As we begin this new decade, it is going to be very interesting to see how the UFC books fight cards. With 2 of the last 3 PPV cards not having titles on the line is this going to become the norm for them? If it does become the norm, are you still going to spend your money to purchase the non-title pay-per-view?
I’ve asked this question to numerous people and the results are split right down the middle. Half of them would still make the purchase because they love fights. The other half said they would not because they feel for the money they are spending they deserve to see title fights.
For me personally, I love fights. I purchased UFC 196, UFC 202, UFC 244, and will definitely be purchasing UFC 246. I’m not of the belief that I deserve to see anything more than what the UFC is offering. I have a choice, purchase it or don’t. If the card excites me, regardless of a belt, I’m buying it!
It will be interesting to see if the UFC does another PPV event this year without a title on the line and that event doesn’t include somebody named McGregor or Diaz, because if they do, that will be the barometer they look to.
UFC 246 takes place this Saturday night live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Nevada and will be aired across the ESPN family of networks.
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.