With Ronda Rousey now having all but retired from the sport and Conor McGregor essentially having taken a year out to focus on his boxing superfight with Floyd Mayweather, there’s been a general feeling that the UFC has been running at a low ebb in 2017.
However, while it’s undoubtedly true that there’s nowhere near the same buzz, excitement, and enthusiasm surrounding the sport as there was a year ago, the reality is that there’s still been a lot of UFC events this year that delivered big in the entertainment category with plenty of memorable knockouts, slick submissions, stand-out performances and all-out wars.
The problem is that without those superstar names topping the bill, these events have often slipped under the radar, resulting in those talented fighters who have been putting it all on the line each week not getting the audience and attention that they deserve.
With that in mind, in this article, we’ll endeavor to shine a spotlight on 10 of the best UFC fight cards in 2017 that no one bothered to watch.
UFC On FOX 23: Shevchenko vs. Pena
After an exciting end to the previous year, MMA’s New Year hangover seemed to last all month long in January, with there being a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the end of month UFC on FOX 23 card, which slipped under many people’s radars and barely scraped above 2 million viewers.
However, those paying attention would have noted that the four main card match-ups always looked like they could deliver a fun night of fights.
Valentina Shevchenko secured a bantamweight title shot in a strong main event showing, proving that she was more than just a striker with a well-executed armbar finish against former TUF winner Julianna Pena.
The co-main event featured what should have been a must-see welterweight encounter between in the in-form Donald Cerrone and Jorge Masvidal, and it was exciting stuff for as long as it lasted, with ‘Gamebred’ flooring ‘Cowboy’ late in the first round and then finishing him off early in the second.
Fans also got to witness major heavyweight prospect Francis Ngannou notch up the most significant win of his career to date with a TKO finish in 92 seconds against Andrei Arlovski, while the main card opener got the proceedings on ‘big’ FOX off to a good start with Jason Knight, aka ‘Hick Diaz,’ outgrappling Alex ‘Bruce Leeroy’ Caceres for a second-round submission finish.