Twitter Mailbag: Is Daniel Cormier vs. Brock Lesnar a guaranteed hit?


Is the UFC’s plan for the next heavyweight title fight really a guaranteed blockbuster? And is the new champ (or one of his old foes) really the greatest of all time? Plus, why exactly is anyone criticizing “T-City”?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

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Yeah, I’d say you’re the only person, or at least one of them, who doesn’t see this fight doing big numbers. Everyone else is looking at past results to gauge future expectations, and the numbers paint a pretty clear picture.

Remember the last time Brock Lesnar fought in the UFC? It was at UFC 200, which reportedly sold just over 1 million pay-per-views, despite losing its headlining title-fight rematch the week of the event. Look at that lineup and ask yourself, which fighter/fight could possibly account for that very strong showing on pay-per-view?

What, you think Amanda Nunes vs. Miesha Tate did that? Sorry, but no. And it wasn’t Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva, either. Maybe some of it was the total value of the event – Cain Velasquez and Jose Aldo both fought on the main card – but mostly it was the mere presence of the big fella.

According to the most reliable figures available, five of Lesnar’s last six UFC fights have broken the million-buy mark on pay-per-view. Now you put him up against Cormier, who is more popular than he’s ever been, and you’ve got a very reliable blueprint for getting that paper.

It absolutely could. Yoel Romero is a scary dude for anybody, and against Cormier he matches up particularly well. I also think that, while it’s a far more legitimate and athletically meaningful fight than Cormier vs. Lesnar, it would bring in a fraction of the profits. The connoisseurs and the MMA heads would love that fight. The masses would flock to DC-Lesnar like it’s another superhero movie.

I think it’s highly unlikely that the UFC puts Cormier in the cage – against anybody, at any weight – before Lesnar is eligible to return. There’s just so much to lose and so little to gain.

It’s insane to me that Darren Elkins vs. Alexander Volkanovski is buried on the prelims. I guess you could make an argument that it’s not such a major distinction, with both the main card and most of the prelims airing on the same network, but it is the difference between prime time Saturday night and sandwiched among fights no one cares about on Saturday afternoon.

Elkins has won six in a row. Volkanovski hasn’t lost since Macklemore was a fresh new artist. But they get ignored so Dennis Bermudez, who’s lost three straight, can take a main card spot against Rick Glenn, who’s 2-2 in the UFC and coming off a loss? It’s another reminder that winning fights doesn’t always mean much at all to the UFC.

That also makes it tough to say who will shine the brightest. The best featherweight on this card right now? It’s probably Volkanovski. The guy who’ll get the biggest bump? Probably whoever’s left standing between Myles Jury and Chad Mendes.

OK, first I have to take a second and acknowledge this great Photoshop. Jon Jones as pitiless white walker in this context just feels so … right.

Second, talent-wise he can absolutely do it. We already know how far ahead of the pack he is at light heavyweight. And he owns one win (and one no-contest knockout) over the current heavyweight champ. So, sure, Jones is good enough to beat the best in both weight classes.

He’s also entirely capable of finding some way to screw all that up, maybe before he even gets the chance to do it.

For those unaware, Mr. Milington is referring to this Twitter exchange between Derek Brunson and Israel Adesanya, wherein Brunson called Adesanya “the last gender bender” and Adesanya replied with a Mike Tyson quote that’s terrible even by Tyson standards.

If you’re waiting for the UFC to take action, you’re going to be waiting a while. If this had come from a fighter on the outs with the organization, sure, a punishment might be swift and convincing. But Dana White was just on Adesanya’s Instagram defending his honor against a remark that wasn’t even meant for him, so I doubt he wants to knock down a budding star over something like this.

Still, I know what you mean. If you’re a fan with half a brain and some semblance of decency, you’re probably not crazy about fighters reaching immediately for the homophobic remarks every time they want to hurt each other’s feelings. Sometimes it feels like they’re the last ones to get the message that gay does not equal weak, and that accusing your opponent of being a woman is not the brilliant bon mot they imagine it to be.

As for how they’re supposed to get that message, seems like the UFC could do a lot more to help. Until then, maybe it’s up to fans. Although, it sure would be nice if there wasn’t so much about MMA that you had to will yourself to ignore just so you can enjoy it.

Brian Ortega did a completely reasonable thing, for completely understandable reasons, and the fact that he has to beg for a portion of his money afterwards just to avoid taking a loss after doing all the things he was contractually obligated to do is a damn shame. You know what else is a shame? The fact that we’ve all just come to accept that as a normal sequence of events in this sport.

It proves it just as much as Cormier’s losses to Jones prove that height and reach are major, often insurmountable factors in an MMA fight. It also proves that we should resist the urge to make sweeping conclusions about everything based solely on the results of the last fight we saw.

My take on fight night food is simple. You want something that: a) doesn’t require utensils to eat, b) can be placed on the coffee table and enjoyed or ignored by all, at their leisure, and c) is relatively cheap and easy to make. What I’m saying here is that you should always, always go with nachos.

One thing I heard from several friends leading up to UFC 226 was how they were so excited for this event, they’d have been willing to pay twice the asking price. Mostly that was intended as hyperbole to express their enthusiastic anticipation, but I think there’s something to it.

The pay-per-view events that really feel worth the money? The ones that are so can’t-miss that your finger doesn’t even hesitate before hitting the “buy” button? Those could go up in price without the calculation changing too much.

And the ones that aren’t at that level, they could be 10 or 15 bucks cheaper, and it probably still wouldn’t change too many people’s minds.

Especially in the current media age, pay-per-view is a premium product, but the UFC often treats it like it’s just a monthly get-together. If there were fewer of them, they might feel more special. And if they felt more special, we might be willing to pay more for them if we had to.

Sadly, everything we hear about the plans for 2019, when the UFC will move over to ESPN and ESPN+, suggests that doing fewer, better shows is not in anyone’s immediate plans.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.





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