UFC, Mayweather And Affliction Set For July 18th Showdown
Total Pro Sports – July 11th isn’t that special in the eyes of sports fans – Babe Ruth’s debut is pretty much it – but July 11th 2009 is about to become a premiere night of fighting, and will play a major part in how the fight industry shakes out over the next few years.
Headlining that Saturday evening is UFC 100, an obvious milestone in the history of the mixed martial arts industry. It took years of preparation and expense to get Armstrong to the moon, but people only remember those first steps and UFC 100 could be Dana White’s ‘first steps for man’. Revolutionizing the sport from so called ‘human cockfighting’ into one of the fastest expanding pursuits in the world, the dark ages are over and UFC 100 – expected to be the biggest selling MMA PPV in history – will showcase the sport at its best to the masses. Ironically it’s headlined by a former pro wrestler, as Brock Lesnar takes on Frank Mir, and the co-main event is George Saint Pierre, hot off ‘Vaselinegate’ the sports first big scandal, against Thiago Alves, but nonetheless this PPV will draw huge for the UFC.
I also really like the under card they’ll be showcasing; Jon Jones’ unique take down based offense turned a lot of heads at UFC 94, the old timers are being dragged out as Mark Coleman will face Stephan Bonner (Coleman made his debut 90 PPVs ago at UFC 10) and the finale of UFC’s greatest innovation The Ultimate Fighter series will take place between Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping. Expect the usual UFC sheen and pomp to be multiplied tenfold as the UFC give themselves the best anniversary present of all: a million plus selling PPV that will finance their drive to the top. UFC management has professional hockey in their sights and want to surpass it inside the next 2 years – they aren’t joking.
July 11th isn’t just the UFC’s domain as Floyd Mayweather Jr. is expected to make his return to the ring in Las Vegas, possibly in a tune up fight before a showdown with Manny Pacquiao – assuming Pacquiao makes it past Ricky Hatton in May, if he doesn’t things get complicated as the big money fight both parties want is Pacquiao/Mayweather – which will air live on HBO. I don’t believe the two events step on each other’s toes too much with the divide between boxing and MMA fans a lot more distinct than many would believe, meaning the crossover pool that may want to watch both is limited (especially if it’s a tune up 5 round demolition and not the Pacquiao fight). However, it’s a little irrelevant since for its marquee shows the UFC relies on the ‘Ultimate fighting’ casual fan and not the hardened ‘Shinya-Aoki-would-totally-kick-BJ-Penn’s-ass’ MMA fan to make up the buyrate.
Pretty packed night right? No way would I want to compete against that, especially if I was some sort of fighting company. Yeah… obviously Affliction management didn’t read the TV schedule as they plan on counter-programming both with their third Affliction show that night. Note I said show and not PPV as there is talk of a one off network TV deal possibly with NBC, but if your biggest problem is a crippling expense bill does free TV really make much sense? Affliction isn’t a sustainable business model and many suspect Affliction 3: ‘insert crappy tagline here’ could be their last, especially if they plan on going down in a Hindenburgesque fireball head to head with the UFC. Nothing is officially confirmed but rumors are swirling that it will be on July 11th and won’t main event with Josh Barnett/Fedor Emelianenko like many expected, instead featuring both in separate matchups. The biggest UFC PPV ever, Mayweather’s return and the testimonial exit show of another MMA promotion? All in one night? Bring it on.