On Saturday night, perennial UFC heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem rebounded from a brutal loss to current champion Stipe Miocic after leveling Mark Hunt with a stunning faceplant knockout.
Fans were also treated to several jaw-dropping come-from-behind victories, from Darren Elkins unbelievable third-round KO of previously undefeated Mirsad Bektic following two rounds of punishment, to Iuri Alcantara’s slick kneebar over another previously undefeated competitor in Luke Sanders.
But unfortunately those entertaining fights will probably be forgotten due to the sleep-inducing main event rematch between welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and top-ranked contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
In a title fight that’s quickly become another top contender for one of the worst championship bouts in UFC history, Woodley and “Wonderboy” halted the momentum of an otherwise exciting and action-packed night of fights.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of UFC 209, besides the snoozer of a main event and loss of Khabib Nurmagomedov just a day before his interim lightweight title fight with Tony Ferguson, was the fact that newly-installed owners WME couldn’t put together a last-minute backup fight which could have ultimately saved the card. Not that they didn’t try though; a bout with Michael Johnson as a replacement for Khabib was attempted as an 11th hour Hail Mary to keep “El Cucuy” on the card.
However, the story goes that WME offered Ferguson less money to take on an opponent who had already beaten him back in 2012. Naturally, the surging lightweight opted to not take the replacement bout.
I was ready and willing!! To make that title weight for last minute. Unfortunately @TonyFergusonXT declined it. Catch ya around next time!
— Michael Johnson (@FollowTheMenace) March 3, 2017
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) March 3, 2017
— Michael Johnson (@FollowTheMenace) March 5, 2017
These are uncertain times for UFC fighters and fans alike.
While hindsight is always 20/20, one has to wonder whether the old Zuffa regime could have made that Michael Johnson vs. Ferguson match-up a reality. If Ferguson had remained on the card, perhaps we wouldn’t be lamenting the stale taste that the main event left in our collective mouths.
Perhaps we would.
And after another dud of a card with UFC 208 last month, the UFC is off to a rocky start in 2017. With two underwhelming PPV main events in a row, the new owners of the world’s largest MMA promotion have yet to really demonstrate any kind of positive consistency, which hasn’t inspired much confidence amongst UFC fans.
With several blockbuster main events on the horizon in light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 210 in April and heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic vs. Dos Santos headlining UFC 211, perhaps WME-IMG can right the ship’s course and provide fight fans with not only solid cards with desirable main events, but also the confidence that our beloved Ultimate Fighting Championship is in good hands.