Promoting a fight card is not an easy job, even when you’re the biggest MMA promotion in the entire world. Even though you’re bigger than everyone else, you have the most money, and boast the biggest stars, you’re bound to throw up a few lame ducks every once and a while.
Sometimes, cards are so bad that they’re dead on arrival before the press tour even begins. A stillborn promotion is usually so low energy and boring that only the most hardcore fight fans will stick around to watch it, but they might not admit to doing it when it’s over.
In instances like that, convincing everyone to tune in is like trying to convince the passengers on the Titanic to come off the lifeboat after it hit the iceberg.
Yes, even UFC events get the “Alan Smithee” treatment now and again, which brings us to UFC 284. Nobody is sure who to blame–though it’s always okay to blame Dana White–but even White can’t be blamed for this card feeling like it’s being promoted under the guise of anonymity.
White has been more interested in boosting his barbaric Power Slap League and flaunting his newfound bromance with Logan Paul over not-Gatorade than doing the media rounds for the event. He most notably forgot UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev’s name, his undefeated champion who is headlining the main event against Alexander Volkanovski.
I actually don’t fault White for being so blase about this card. This card has been cursed since its initial announcement and has been nothing but a headache for the UFC.
First, Robert Whittaker was to face Paulo Costa in a grudge match that was supposed to co-main the card. Whittaker vs. Costa was a huge fight until Costa reminded the UFC that they were still negotiating his contract, one so big that the UFC is still trying to talk Costa down. When that fight tanked, it was game over for the card. Whittaker immediately disclosed he was off the show, even as Jared Cannonier volunteered to step in on short notice to fight him.
Right around this time, Kai Kara-France vs. Alex Perez fell apart as well. These bouts getting nixed elevated Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett to the co-main spot and took all the air out of the event.
The entire card aside from the main event is more fitting for a Fight Night card than a pay-per-view. For all the ballyhoo about the historical significance of Volkanovski moving up to face Makhachev to become a two-division titlist, very few are giving him a chance to win. With just days from the fight, odds have Makhachev as a solid -380 favorite to beat the undersized Volkanovski.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the UFC has already thrown in the towel and is looking ahead to UFC 285. The return of Jon Jones and his long-awaited shot at the heavyweight title deserves all the attention it can get right now, and fatigue from promoting a lost cause here isn’t the right move for business.
Do Makhachev and Volkanovski deserve better? Absolutely, but it’s just business after all.