This past Saturday, my roommate, Cameron Richardson, invited people over to watch UFC 257, which was headlined by a fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.
Usually during UFC events, I took time to do DoorDash deliveries to take advantage of the surge in demand these events cause. However, since heavy snow in Flagstaff kept me at home, since front-wheel driving isn’t ideal in a heavy snowstorm, I decided to check out some of the fights for UFC 257 with my roommate and those who braved the elements to watch the fights.
I had never previously watched fights outside of the mega-superstar bouts that literally everyone would talk about on social media. Combat sports never appeal to me as it seemed like violence only for the sake of violence without an actual goal in mind. Whenever I have brought this up to anyone, I always have been told that football is also very violent. My rebuttal was that in football, the goal is to score and the hits are to stop teams from doing so while in combat sports, the goal was to be more physical than the opponent. Due to this, I always ignored the UFC and stuck with other sports.
On Saturday, after pelting my roommate with a bunch of questions that probably sounded dumb to a die-hard UFC fan, I got into the big fights and learned about why UFC is so popular. Some notable action to come out of UFC 257 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi included: Marina Rodriguez defeating Amanda Ribas via TKO in the second round, Michael Chandler knocked out Dan Hooker in his UFC debut, and in the main event, Poirier knocked out McGregor in the second round to cement himself as a superstar in the UFC.
I learned a lot about the UFC and from the perspective of someone who knew nothing about it coming in, I have two things that make the UFC appealing and two aspects that I do not like.
First, the drama of each fight is high for a very simple reason: fighters train and adjust their weight for the fights several months in advance, making the fights a release after all that work. The stakes are high so the fighters don’t waste all that effort. The intensity of the fights are high and with the rising amount of talent in the UFC, even the preliminary fights can be really exciting.
Also, seeing a knockout or a precise hit is pretty exciting. The more fights I watched, the more I realized just how difficult it can be to not only just land a hit, but also get fighters off their feet. It takes incredible speed to win fights, an aspect I can appreciate.
When Poirier knocked out McGregor, he used precise and deadly leg kicks to weaken McGregor, causing him to let his guard down as Poirier went in for the kill, knocking out McGregor in the second round. There is much more skill to the sport than I realized, making MMA a sport I can respect and enjoy.
When it comes to sports for me, the structure is very important to me. The NFL regular season is set up to where every game matters and playoff races are thrilling, March Madness provides a super-entertaining postseason with plenty of action to enjoy, and Formula 1’s broadcasts allow full immersion into the event. When it comes to the UFC, the way it’s set up is weaker than any other sport I watch.
The pay-per-view system is stupid. Forcing people to pay 70 dollars to watch the main card is not an attractive system to get people into the sport. This causes many people, who maybe cannot afford to pay for the event, to illegally stream the events. Every other sport I watch is televised on the sports channels that come with cable subscriptions, allowing me to have access to those sports. Having to pay money to see each event feels restricted and not fan-friendly.
Also, the cards need to be more stacked. As entertaining as UFC 257 was, there was not a single title fight. The cards are separated by a few weeks, preventing cards from feeling stacked and feeling special. Imagine if Khabib vs. Gaethje and McGregor vs Poirier were on the same night. This would feel special and a night no one would forget. On top of this, with all the hype, it would draw in more casual fans such as myself.
Overall, the UFC is a promotion I can find enjoyment in, but I find every other sport more enjoyable. I look forward to learning even more about the UFC and see some unforgettable moments moving forward. Maybe someday, I can add the UFC to the list of sports I love.