The Fourth of July weekend card for the UFC is normally viewed as one of the three major shows of the year. However, the UFC has yet to deliver on any of their big shows in 2014 as the two biggest shows have gone to Renan Barao, a bantamweight fighter lacking a heavy following. Not only is UFC brass hoping for a buy rate in the range of 500,000, they are also in need of it–recently people are just flat out mocking the porous product being put together via the organization as quantity over quality has been the virtue of this year. Even professionals that cover the sport are forced to research fighters on the main card let alone the casual fight fan, whom I am doubting even exists anymore.
UFC 175 takes place on Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern with a two-hour prelim card housed on Fox Sports 1 starting at 8 p.m. and even more fights provided via the UFC subscription-based service, Fight Pass.
Main Event – Middleweight title fight (185 lbs.)
Chris Weidman vs. Lyota Machida
I have to be honest with you, this fight could be a hard watch for those wanting action. Weidman is fluent in striking, but most notable for his high level of grappling and large frame that allows him to impose his will on those whom he is fighting–check his two victories over Anderson Silva. Weidman is a constant improver, using handwork and dedication to constantly take his abilities to the next level, when he has faced formidable odds he’s at his best.
The underlying thing is that rather than becoming a star from beating Silva, it in some ways has made Weidman more hated. Fans of the sport I have talked with have now begun to knit pick at subtle things about Weidman. To the casual fan he is a just a boring jock who has to rely on being “a real American”as a way to find some sort of marketing angle. Silva was a beloved figure in MMA, the way Roy Jones Jr. was in boxing and even more so, Silva was one of the few black fighters in MMA that was universally loved, so his loss was a deeper blow for many.
Machida is a technical striker, who at one time competed in sumo. The modus operandi of Machida is to use distance to annoy his foe with pot shots and then when a frustrated opponent comes in–often from booing from the crowd–Machida will land a big shot and often knock them out. Machida is a hard fighter to describe since for as many good fights he has been in, he has been in his fair share of lousy ones.
Machida is getting the fight in lieu of Vitor Belfort, the former number one contender, for being two and half times over the limit of a user of testosterone replacement therapy–a then-legal treatment for anti-aging that since Belfort had partook in seemed like a new fighter.
The big question though is can Weidman close distance on Machida? Machida will be content to move all night and make it a test of patience, will Weidman be willing to fight a fight that benefits him to win, but might not wow the fans?
Women’s Bantamweight Title (135lbs.)
Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis
Rousey is not going to be in MMA for long, this will probably one of her final outings in my opinion. Rousey, who is already branding herself well, has a life ahead of her in Hollywood and essentially whatever she wants to do. Fighting to her at this point in her life is more of a hobby. Yet she is far and away the best in her division, the Royce Gracie of women’s MMA if you will.
With all that being said, Alexis Davis is one of the toughest fights she could take. Davis is the one who Women’s MMA guru Robert Sargent of MMARising.com told me a year ago has the best chance of beating Rousey. Davis is a black belt in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu as well as competent striker as she showed in her loss to Sarah Kaufman in 2012 in a fight of the year candidate that could of gone either way. Davis offers something that could make this fight interesting–poise in the pocket–as Rousey reacts oddly at times in exchanges, something that could catch up to her.
Don’t get me wrong Rousey should win and probably will, but this is her toughest fight to date and yet people are acting like this is a shoe in for her without any credit being granted to Davis, who upset the apple card in her last fight beating Jessica Eye, a fighter at the time the UFC really liked. Rousey, who should have every advantage in this fight will be tested on how much more she wants to be fighting in the UFC as she fights Davis.
Heavyweight fight (205 lbs.-plus)
Matt Mitrione vs. Stefan Struve
Matt Mitrione is flat out stupid. Mitrione lived up to his “meathead”nickname calling trans-gendered fighter Fallon Fox, a psychopath last year and lost a big push in the UFC and friends in the media after the incident. The former NFL football player now will be hoping to keep his job as he seems to be in a must-win match as the man just a few years ago thought of as a hot prospect now seems more expendable and liability to the company.
Struve on the other hand is overcoming a broken jaw in his last fight against Mark Hunt and heart problems that could have forced him into early retirement. Struve who walks in just short of seven feet tall, is one of the greatest what if stories as he never fully learned how to use his reach and has been knocked out far too often for a man of his size and one wonders just how much he has left in the tank after three brutal knockouts, one broken jaw, and a life-threatening heart problem.
The one positive is that both fighters whether for better or worse tend to give up on a game plan if leather is exchanged and look to trade, the downside is they both tend to fade badly late in fights. This is one of those fights were you hope the best and expect the worse.
Middleweight fight (185 lbs.)
Uriah Hall vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos
See this is what I alluded to earlier I think I might know who Santos is by face, but of the top of my head I know him as “who?” Hall on the other hand was the FX telecast superstar of the “Ultimate Fighter” show, who got all hell thrown at him when he lost the finale and a fight to John Howard. This fight quite simply seems to be one to reintroduce the fans to Hall on a high profile card with hopes that Hall stops Santos and hype could be built back up so he could headline a television card heading into the fall.
Bantamweight fight (135 lbs.)
Marcus Brimage vs. Russell Doane
Once again, I don’t know anything about Doane, but I do know that Brimage is a very exciting fighter as well as one of the best interviews in the sport. My expectation for this fight is simply that it should be fun.
Prelim fight, oddly
Bantamweight fight (135 lbs.)
Uriah Faber vs. Alex Caceres
This is one of those fights that should be on the pay-per-view card, but I suspect that Fox is a little bit unhappy with some of the ratings they have gotten as of late and that mixed with the rumored 20k buy rate for the past UFC PPV headlined by a “little guy”may have moved this fight to free television. Faber has only lost in title fights and Caceres, a fidgeting, wire-framed fighter has constantly beaten opposition most thought he would lose to. This is a trajectory fight, does Uriah still have it or is Caceres on the ascension in a division void of star power as the current champion, T.J. Dillashaw didn’t even make the UFC video game?