So UFC 177 lost its main event of TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao?
No big deal. If the UFC were smart, instead of everyone castigating Barao for not making weight, the UFC should have figured out a way to turn lemons into lemonade.
The WWE has been doing it for years.
In 1988, at the first Summerslam PPV, WWE Intercontinental champion The Honky Tonk man was supposed wrestle Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. Beefcake, however, was injured prior to the match, so the WWE decided to get creative.
The WWE didn’t hold a press conference to announce that Beefcake was out and then immediately announce a replacement fighter. No, in true professional wrestling, sports entertainment form, the WWE left everyone in suspense until the actual night of the PPV.
The Honky Tonk Man, the longest reigning champion in Intercontinental Title history, grabbed the microphone and said, “Get me somebody out here to wrestle, I don’t care who it is.”
Seconds later, the music of The Ultimate Warrior hit.
The Warrior fired down the aisle and proceeded to demolish The Honky Tonk Man in 27 seconds, to win the Intercontinental championship and set the stage for his eventual takeover of the WWE.
When the Warrior’s music hit, the fans went nuts. You just knew the title was going to change hands. You just knew that something special was happening. You just knew history was about to be made in Madison Square Garden.
Now, UFC purists might think that such a stunt would hurt the credibility of the sport. The UFC is “real” so there’s no way you can get away with that kind of cartoon booking.
But why not? You don’t have to fix a fight to hold fans in suspense until the actual card. The UFC could even tell the opponent. In this case, the UFC could tell Dillashaw who he’s fighting, but just require him to keep it secret until fight time.
Think the whole think is preposterous? What do you think the UFC did to Ronda Rousey during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter? Rousey was stunned to find out that Cat Zingano was out and Miesha Tate was in. The whole thing was caught on camera and no one seemed to worried about Rousey’s feelings when the inserted her No. 1 enemy onto the show.
The only people who would be in suspense would be the fans. Now the key with this is that the UFC would need to find a suitable replacement fighter. The fans might feel let down if a guy like Joe Soto suddenly appeared in place of Barao. If the replacement fighter was, say Dominick Cruz, who finds in a month, then such a surprise would totally stun fans.
Cruz, of course, is probably not at fight weight either, but imagine how cool it could have been.
As pro wrestling fans know, there’s nothing quite like the mystery of wondering who is coming down the aisle next. It sends a bolt of lightning up the wrestling fans back when the music hits and that wrestler who has been off-camera for awhile suddenly appears to entertain.
The UFC may not have that luxury, since it is sports and not sports entertainment. Still, discrediting Renan Barao’s commitment to the fight probably wasn’t the best scenario either.