The UFC dropped a bombshell Friday afternoon, saying that not solely will Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and lightweight heavyweight kingpin Daniel Cormier coach the twenty seventh season of “The Final Fighter,” but in addition that the titleholders will even conflict in a battle for Miocic’s heavyweight title in the important Occasion of UFC 226, the annual early-July pay-per-view that headlines Worldwide Battle Week.
The seismic news despatched shockwaves all through the MMA world: Everybody tried to wrap their heads round the colossal matchup between the males who simply final weekend efficiently retained their titles at UFC 220 in Boston.
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Most have been flabbergasted by the news, excited by the concept of seeing two champions share the cage six months from now. Some instantly contemplated the influence a victory for both fighter would have on their respective legacies. Others apprehensive about what is going to occur to different fighters with championship goals in these divisions, now that each titles are tied up by means of the summer time.
Regardless, Miocic-Cormier is an enormous battle with lots of parts to unpack. Listed here are the most necessary parts from this unimaginable bout.
The time is right
Main fights like this usually create a logjam in two divisions, however there has by no means been a extra becoming time to pair the heavyweight and lightweight heavyweight champions in a struggle like this, beginning with the undeniable fact that neither Miocic nor Cormier has an apparent challenger at the prepared.
At heavyweight, Fabricio Werdum has had a pair of strong-however-unspectacular wins since dropping to Alistair Overeem, and Cain Velasquez hasn’t fought since UFC 200. In the mild heavyweight ranks, Alexander Gustafsson is the clear No. 1 contender, however the Swedish standout had shoulder surgical procedure at the finish of November and has no concrete timeline for his return.
Second, each males fought final weekend, so the timelines match up seamlessly. Having them coach towards each other on “TUF” is fairly sensible as nicely, because it provides followers an opportunity to see a bit extra of Miocic’s character earlier than the largest battle of his profession.
What to do about the divisional races?
Miocic vs. Cormier represents an incredible alternative for the UFC to shift its focus to extra precisely delineate every weight class — and discover new names to advertise in them — in order that when the smoke clears from UFC 226, followers could have a greater understanding of the prime contenders and rising skills.
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This isn’t a simple train; it takes the variety of lengthy-time period imaginative and prescient the UFC hasn’t exhibited an excessive amount of over the previous 18 months, and it requires the group to correctly determine one or two potential contenders in every division with whom they’re going to roll the cube. That has been successful-or-miss journey in recent times.
However pairing Miocic and Cormier provides the UFC anyplace from six to 12 months to enhance the depth of these divisions and set issues up in order that when this struggle is over, thrilling matchups in every weight class will abound.
What about the relaxation of the yr?
Let’s say the UFC will get every thing lined up right and turns this occasion right into a monster, with champion-vs.-champion clashes between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw and Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Amanda Nunes additionally discovering their method onto the July 7 occasion at T-Cellular Area in Las Vegas. What fights will probably be left for the relaxation of 2018?
Tying up six champions on one card isn’t very best for those who’re looking forward to additional dates, however the UFC house owners at Endeavor wish to make an enormous assertion with this card. Offered everybody is wholesome, they might nonetheless have choices for the ultimate 5 months.
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In concept, 5 champions would wish fights, and what’s to say that by November or December, a pair of these six aren’t chomping at the bit to get again in the Octagon? On prime of that, 5 of the six divisions concerned at the prime of this hypothetical card might use time to get sorted, with males’s bantamweight being the solely weight class with apparent challengers at the prepared. Even there, Dominick Cruz, Jimmie Rivera and Cody Garbrandt every would wish to get one other win earlier than preventing for the title, so actually, it is no hurt, no foul there, too.
As a lot as I’ve talked about the want for lengthy-time period planning to determine mild heavyweight and heavyweight now that Miocic and Cormier are going to battle, I additionally perceive the want to go huge with Worldwide Struggle Week and let Sean, Mick and Dana work out what to do from August by means of December.
What if this occasion is a check balloon?
Put in your tinfoil hats, people, as a result of it’s conspiracy concept time.
What if the UFC needs to see what sort of numbers it could actually do with a big card like this — the UFC equal to WrestleMania or the Tremendous Bowl — to weigh the execs and cons of chopping again on its pay-per-view schedule in the future? For the previous couple years, the main exhibits have accomplished the greatest enterprise whereas the normal fare has did not generate a lot curiosity past the hardcore set. What’s the level of operating thirteen occasions per yr when solely three or 4 of them actually pop?
Perhaps there will not be three champion-vs.-champion fights, however this card would nonetheless be a great way to gauge the higher restrict of curiosity for an occasion with out Conor McGregor or one of the different marquee names in the group (previous or current) hooked up.
With the UFC wanting for a brand new tv deal and the broadcast panorama altering, what if this is a strategy to illustrate how a lot income a pair of stacked pay-per-view occasions per yr might generate for a brand new associate trying to land extra of the marquee fights for its platforms? Decreasing the quantity of pay-per-view occasions would, in principle, release extra huge fights for conventional broadcasts, however having a pair main occasions per yr can be a good way to construct anticipation for these exhibits and generate a ton of income.
It is going to be fascinating to see how the relaxation of this occasion shapes up, however as of right now, July 7 ought to be circled in your calendar.
UFC 226 is going to be an evening to recollect.