The upcoming UFC 214 pay-per-view event is coming together nicely, as news has arrived that the card will feature two title fights from Rogers Place in Edmonton on Saturday, September 9.
TSN Sports confirmed that dominant flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will headline the card against No. 3-ranked challenger Ray Borg, while women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will meet Valentina Shevchenko in the co-main event. Nunes and Shevchenko were supposed to fight in the main event of July 8’s UFC 213, but chronic sinusitis forced “The Lioness” out of the bout until it was recently rescheduled.
UFC President Dana White has said Nunes would not headline the card featuring here rescheduled rematch with “Bullet,” and this time, he’s apparently kept his word after saying the same thing about Jon Jones after he was unceremoniously removed from his UFC 200 main event against Daniel Cormier last year, but booking the same fight for the main event of July 29’s UFC 214 anyway.
White said he had smoothed things over with Nunes regardless:
“(Nunes) and I talked, she was a little upset about the situation that I said she was medically cleared to fight,” said White. “Her and I talked about it and I think we’re in a good place now.”
There’s also some controversy surrounding Johnson’s next fight after the consensus pound-for-pound best fighter in the world refused to fight former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw for the 125-pound belt in his next fight, in which he will attempt to break Anderson Silva’s record for most UFC title defenses.
White expressed dismay at not being able to book that fight:
“It’s unfortunate, I think (Johnson vs. Dillashaw) would have been a great title fight,” White told TSN. “It would have been a fight that a lot of people would have wanted to see, but it is what it is.”
In any case, two title fights are headed for September’s UFC 215, and on paper, it definitely presents an interesting event with the world’s most dominant fighter facing a young, up-and-coming contender who is one of the very few legit challengers in his division, while Nunes and Shevchenko will rematch barring any setbacks in a fight that will certainly showcase the evolution of the women’s bantamweight division in the years post-Ronda Rousey.
But there’s a few other aspects of the event that don’t offer as much promise, and that’s the fact that the UFC has chosen to book Johnson in a pay-per-view event the day numbers arrived that UFC 213, which was set to ironically feature Nunes, did some of the lowest pay-per-view buys in a decade, with “Mighty Mouse’s” PPV title defenses the only card selling so dismally.
In a month sure to feature the hangover of the all-out circus that Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor will most definitely present on August 26, perhaps the UFC thought they should save bigger names able to carry a pay-per-view card for more anticipated events later in the year.
Thus far this year, however, not many UFC stars have proven they can do that. Will Johnson and Nunes combine to help lift the UFC out of the ratings gutter, or will the card deliver the same low ratings they’ve traditionally delivered?