Is the UFC Over Stacking its Prelims?

By Kevin Jaress
UFC 156 Prelims
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 158 features the long-awaited fight between George St. Pierre and Nick Diaz for the welterweight title.  As much as this fight has the MMA world buzzing, many fans are disappointed by the lack of quality fighters on the rest of the main card.

Of the five fights featured on the UFC 158 main card, two contain fighters which many believe are not worthy of main card status.

One of those fights is Nick Ring versus Chris Camozzi.  Ring has looked average in his first four UFC fights and is neither a dynamic striker nor a devastating submission artist.  Camozzi is currently on a nice winning streak, but remains several more victories away from middleweight contention.

Even worse than the placement of the Ring-Camozzi fight, is the main card’s opening fight featuring Mike Ricci and Colin Fletcher.  Neither Ricci nor Fletcher has a UFC victory on their record.  With a roster of almost 400 fighters, why is the UFC unable to put better fights on their main card?

One of the main reasons is the importance the UFC now puts on its preliminary cards.

Not long ago, to see the prelims, fans either had to be at the event or hope the pay-per-view had excess airtime to fill.  Otherwise, fans were forced to download the fights from the UFC’s website at a later date.  Recently, however, airing live UFC prelims has become big business for the UFC and the FX network.

As seen at UFC 156, the promotion now stacks their prelims with some of their most intriguing fights.  This has resulted in record ratings for the FX network.  The UFC 156 prelims featured stars like Evan Dunham and Tyron Woodley, drawing almost two million viewers.

While stacking the prelims is great for ratings, main cards like UFC 158 are left to suffer with little remaining talent to fill the lineup.

It is to be seen whether UFC 158’s weak main card can still draw buys banking solely on a strong main event. If it fails and the promotion begins losing pay-per-view revenue because of it, expect to see a shift in talent away from the featured prelims in the near future.

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