The UFC is really letting their Melbourne audiences down, or rather they are expected to disappoint their fans on Sunday once the UFC finally returns to the sporting capital of the world. The MMA odds of the UFC actually setting the Etihad Stadium on fire are not high.
And the disappointment emanates from the fact that it was just a year ago that the UFC hosted a record-breaking event in Melbourne. So, for the organization to deliver one of the weakest fight cards this year will not go down well for some fans.
Then again, there UFC has no reason to really push the Melbourne event. The Nevada-based promotion has their sights set primarily on a U.S Cable Television audience; so bringing a star-studded offering of fighters to Melbourne makes little business sense.
But even taking into account the fact that the UFC has little to prove to Melbourne, the card they will serve for consumers on Sunday is a little too ridiculous for an organization like the UFC, not with the fame and reputation they have garnered over the years.
Admittedly, the card wasn’t supposed to be so completely demoralizing. There were a few shining gems tucked away. The Ronaldo Jacare Souza/Luke Rockhold rematch was probably the most appetizing main event of the Sunday card and it was definitely worth the hype it had begun to draw.
This rematch emerged from the defunct Strikeforce promotion and the controversial championship had quite a few people buzzing. However, Rockhold suffered an injury that spoiled even those plans.
So instead of a Rockhold/Souza rematch, fans will be treated to a Robert Whittaker/Derek Brunson middleweight fight in the main event slot. Whittaker will obviously celebrate the development.
He has never been in a UFC main event before; his current record, specifically the fact that he hasn’t yet been defeated since he joined the 185-pound division lends some credibility to his match.
He needs to win against Brunson if he wants to get in line to fight the best title challengers around. In that regard, the fact that there are real consequences in the division emerging from the fight means that the Whittaker/Brunson bout could actually deliver as a main event.
None of the other matches on the card offer much hope, though. Melbourne-born Jake Matthews is still recovering from his first-round loss to Kevin Lee. The loss was definitely devastating, and one wonders why his bout was slated as the co-feature.
Of course, Mathews won’t complain; the UFC is giving him a chance to rebound. He has to hit it out of the park. This time he will be facing a thirty-year-old submission fighter called Andrew Holbrook.
His controversial victory against Ramsey Nijem in 2015 is still the source of many debates today.
The card only grows thinner as you scrutinize it further. It is difficult to see the UFC’s core United States audience caring for any of these bouts. Melbourne will, at the very least, cheer for Alex Volkanovski who will make his debut with UFC on Sunday.
Many consider him to be the best unsigned Australian fighter around. Other than Dan Kelly, a four-time Olympic Judoka, the rest of the card is mostly padded with pointless fights that no one will care for.