This features thoughts and analysis from Ryan Frederick and Paul Fontaine where noted.
There has been a tremendous amount of news coming out of last weekend’s UFC 250. If you missed UFC 250, Ryan Frederick wrote about the event and the early fallout yesterday.
News that started to trickle out last night, but busted out of the fire hose today, has to do with two of their upcoming PPV shows and one of the biggest mysteries, unless you saw Ryan Frederick’s reporting two weeks ago, Fight Island.
Fight Island comes from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. UFC 251 on July 11 kicks off Fight Island and three shows from the island will follow, including Fight Night cards on the 15th, 18th, and the 25th.
The card for UFC 251 from Fight Island looks to be the following (at this moment) according to a tweet by Kevin Iole:
- Kamaru Usman Vs Gilbert Burns
- Alexander Volkanovski Vs Max Holloway
- Petr Yan Vs José Aldo
- Paige VanZant Vs Amanda Ribas
- Rose Namajunas Vs Jéssica Andrade
With international flights slowly opening back up, Fight Island would seem unnecessary, but there are reasons to continue Dana’s big mysterious project, which was created specifically because fighters overseas couldn’t get to the US.
Ryan: I think there are more financial reasons they’re still doing Fight Island, far more than they want anyone to know about. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re getting a site fee as part of their multi-year deal with Abu Dhabi, which the deal is 100% the reason Fight Island is there. At worst, I don’t think they spent “way more money than you can imagine” on the show. It wouldn’t surprise me if some, or even all, of the costs were covered by the agreement. If the fighters who are having pay disputes with the company right now knew that, it would make everything worse when they’re using “we aren’t making any money from gates and spending lots of money on Fight Island” as the reason for no raises. And they’ll be back on “Fight Island” next year, because, well, they have to. It’s not like they haven’t been there three times already.
Paul: I think Dana hyped this up so much they had to do something. I’d imagine they are also getting some sort of site fee for holding the events in Abu Dhabi so that could partially make up for lack of fans. Depending on how well the events come off I could see them going back to Fight Island on occasion. Certainly if there is a second wave or, God forbid, another pandemic down the road, this gives them another option of somewhere to run shows
The card looks fantastic, as Paul agrees, but Ryan thinks it could be disguising something else.
Paul: The card for 251 is fantastic. It’s the best card they could possibly put together right now given the fighters available. You can certainly question Aldo getting a title shot after 3 straight losses but most thought he won his last fight and he’s the biggest name in the division. Holloway absolutely deserves a rematch. Usman/Burns is striking while the iron is hot. This show should do really well on PPV given recent business.
Ryan: UFC 251 card should be better, but I think greed is to blame. I think the UFC isn’t treating their fans fairly by not giving them the fights they want instead giving them what the UFC wants. Gilbert Burns has no business getting a headline spot on what is supposed to be treated as one of the biggest UFC shows of the year. He’s earned a shot, but it’s a slap in the face of fans who know it should be Masvidal.
The other big news is that Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic is signed for UFC 252. In a time where big stars like Conor McGregor and Jon Jones are feuding with the UFC over money, it is interesting that Cormier and Miocic were able to agree.
Ryan: I think Stipe and DC are undervaluing themselves, but also I think they know they aren’t on the level of Conor, Jones, Diaz, Masvidal or Khabib, so they’re probably right about where they could expect they should get. They also seem like they’re both going to be done soon, so why drag it out, let me get what I can and get out. DC being a company man actually hurts his value as a fighter. They both should be paid more but we’ll never know.
Paul: DC is a company man who really wants this fight for his legacy. He is probably being compensated relative to his value, as is Stipe, so that’s never really been an issue. Stipe has never really shown to be any kind of a draw, nor is he the type of guy that holds out for more money. It’s a fight they both want and there’s limited time to make it, due to Cormier’s age and desire to retire as soon as he can.