Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Booing during Benevidez vs. Johnson raises questions about lighter weight fights

Despite a high paced exhibition of skill and technique by Joseph Benevidez and Demetrious Johnson in crowning the inaugural UFC flyweight champion, the fans became restless with the co-main event at UFC 152 and let it show when they reigned down boos early in the five round title fight. 

Which prompted this from UFC President Dana White at the UFC 152 post-fight press conference:
"If you didn't like the flyweight fight, please, I'm begging you, don't ever buy another UFC pay-per-view again," White said. "I don't want your money. You're a moron, you don't like fighting, you don't appreciate talent."
But one look at the numbers shows that Dana White should be careful what he's wishing for as the fans are already taking the UFC prez up on his offer and holding on to their money when the little guys are on the top of the card. Via Dave Meltzer:
Before Jon Jones was moved to the UFC 152 card, Zuffa had only sold 3000 tickets for the event when it was headlined by Benevidez vs Johnson. All of the remaining tickets were only sold after Jon Jones was added to the card just two weeks ago.
Which should be a pretty good indicator to the brain trust in Las Vegas that the lighter weights are not ready for the leading roll, as previous trips to Toronto like UFC 129 had garnered gate receipts of $11 million dollars, and UFC 140 which in December attracted 18,303 to the Air Canada Centre, for a gate of $3.9 million. While in comparison UFC 152 drew 16,800 for a gate of $1.9 million and who knows what that number would have been had Benevidez vs. Johnson been left in the main event slot and Jon Jones had not been added.

As for the boo's I think the fans viewed Bisping vs Stann as the Co-main event despite Johnson vs. Benevidez being a title fight. So when Bisping and Stann finished their fight on Saturday night the fans were ready for Jones vs. Belfort, but instead they were given five rounds of Johnson vs Benevidez. I think that has more to do with the boo's then the size of the fighters or their popularity here. Much like the boo's during the interim bantam weight title fight at UFC 149 were the result of a dreadful main card killing the heat. UFC 152 simply had the fights sequenced wrong leading to a hostile crowd, but neither fight would have been boo'd otherwise. So it's not a question of weather or not the lighterweight guys can fight and be compelling, but a question of weather or not enough people are interested in finding out.   


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