Friday 8 June 2018

UFC 225 Picks

I was cautiously optimistic about the ESPN+ deal signed by the UFC last time out but a month later the hope has evaporated. ESPN has doubled down on their determination to drive true sports fans away from their platform, bringing back demagogue Keith Olbermann yet again and launching a new flagship afternoon show hosted by Pablo Torre and faux intellectual Bomani Jones.

With many cards scheduled to be across the ESPN network exclusively expect the 'talent' such as it is to be spread thin especially as the UFC is expected to retain a PPV model and save all their best fights for those. But the base will be driven away by the core principles that appear to be in play at ESPN. Meanwhile the type of people the likes of Olbermann, Jones and Michelle Beadle are designed to appeal to are cutting the cord and being judicious over what services to subscribe to. So who will be left to watch? It is a terrible brand fit and a mistake the UFC may never truly recover from.

Dana White obviously thinks it is the greatest thing that has ever happened for the UFC. What else can he say? But then again he also said Yair Rodriguez had been released - a lie as predicted here. From what I hear the plan was to spread rights between multiple networks and FOX Sports were ready to pay nine figures for half of the rights. But when Endeavor chose ESPN as one its partners, a direct and main rival to FOX Sports, they withdrew their offer forcing the UFC to go hat in hand to ESPN. I am sure Fox are not upset they don't have to deal with Dana anymore.

White also came out this week and said the UFC would do away with early weigh-ins which have been blamed for the rash of fighters missing weight. I think there's certainly truth in that - but it's not because early weigh-ins are necessarily a bad thing. It's because most fighters are semi-professional and don't take the proper approach to their cuts. I was rewatching some of UFC 216 recently. Prior to that Dana White issued a message of condolence after the Las Vegas mass shooting and I thought about how there was really no one else who could represent the UFC and speak on it's behalf. He is really the only face of the company and at least sometimes that becomes a real disservice.

Picks after the jump.