Saturday 4 August 2018

UFC 227 Picks

Hot on the heels of the news that FOX Sports will be ending their broadcasting relationship with the UFC, it transpires in the UK, BT Sport will no longer be showing events from the end of 2018. Going forward, the rights will be in the hands of Eleven Sports, as yet a streaming only network. Some suckups, I'm sorry, journalists, assure us that they will have a channel on cable by the time they begin their deal though it's decidedly unclear as to what providers will carry it, if it will be part of a basic package or premium, and so on.

No one will miss BT Sport's coverage which did not bother synchronising their ad breaks with the host broadcastyet somehow would still manage to muffle out any remotely potentially awkward language. All events were blacked out from UFC Fight Pass, even cards ostensibly exclusive to Fight Pass. Their coverage of other sports is also spotty, frequently distorting their schedule, shunting events behind unrecordable digital walls. Nearly all of their studio shows not directly connected to pre or post match have been cancelled. On Wednesday during the Mladenovic vs Babos tennis match at the Silicon Valley Open, their HD channel had a major sound issue for over two hours they did not bother fixing or even addressing. What I'm saying is, no one is shocked by this parting of ways.

But this is not some triumph of common sense by the UFC. It's just another money saving tactic on the part of the owners. Of course it transpires Eleven Sports is part owned by IMG. They are working towards building their own global empire of which the UFC is just a tiny piece. They are cutting costs all over the place whether it's something large like allowing the likes of Lyoto Machida to walk or ending the UFC Pick'Em game on their website. One thing observant viewers may have noticed is the number of events held in small towns with tiny venues, like Boise, Utica and Liverpool.So much for world domination.

A couple of big fights were announced at the press conference on Friday with obviously the major attraction being Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor in October in Las Vegas. But as yet there is no main event on the horizon for UFC 230, the annual New York show. The only potential one looming that feels significant enough would be Cormier vs Jones III. Most main PPV cards including UFC 227 are mostly composed of filler that would struggle to feel relevant on a Fight Night card. Many Fight Night cards now are regional promotion quality.

When they do have something good brewing such as Paulo Costa, they show no patience, catapulting him from a series of heavily flawed opponents into a bout with Yoel Romero. He is not ready for that, doesn't have enough mainstream heat behind him and will get destroyed. As I said, it feels like the company is being run not as the NFL of combat sports but as a minor cog in a giant machine. There's little to get excited about right now and it feels like the higher ups barely care. Well if they don't care, I don't care. If they put together something worth talking about then we'll talk. If not...

Picks after the jump.