(This post first appeared on MMAFrenzy.)
UFC 225 is going down on Saturday night in Chicago, and the card will feature two championship fights and several, all-star competitors. But, will the event bring in the mainstream masses? And generate some big pay-per-view numbers?
The Fight Pass Prelims
Typically speaking, the Fight Pass prelims are assigned to ‘just the hardcore fans will be watching’ bin. More recently, however, even die-hard observers may have been taking a pass on some of the Fight Pass line-ups.
But, this time around, the Fight Pass prelims feature several compelling bouts. Case in point, #1 ranked flyweight Joseph Benavidez will take on the #5 ranked Sergio Pettis…on Fight Pass. A decision that didn’t sit too well with one of the greatest 125’ers the game has ever known.
Now, in addition to that must-see bout, the Fight Pass stream will feature former light-heavyweight champ Rashad Evans taking on Anthony Smith, and Clay Guida facing fellow vet, Charles Oliveira. So, with a line-up like that, who knows? Maybe some casual fans will be signing up for the service.
The Televised Prelims
The televised prelims includes a bout between strawweight contenders Claudia Gadelha and Carla Esparza, as well as an interesting featherweight fight between contenders Ricardo Lamas and Mirsad Bektic. Those fights probably won’t buzz a lot of part-time, MMA fans, but the feature bout for the prelims probably will. That’s because it will feature decorated heavyweight, Alistair Overeem, taking on the rising Curtis Blaydes. When you consider what Overeem has done throughout his career, and how many high stakes fights he’s been involved in, it would be pretty surprising if the ratings tanked.
The Main Card
UFC 225 is probably on the ‘must watch’ lists of a lot of dedicated fans. After all, it will feature middleweight champ Robert Whittaker taking on Yoel Romero for a second time, Rafael dos Anjos facing Colby Covington for the interim welterweight belt, and the Octagon debut of Megan Anderson, who will battle one of the greatest, female fighters of all time, in Holly Holm.
Not only that, former heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski will face the fast rising, and heavy hitting, Tai Tuivasa. So, it’s hard to imagine too many hardcore fans taking a pass on this event.
But, what could move UFC 225 from a decent selling, PPV, into impressive sales numbers, is the CM Punk – Mike Jackson fight. Yes, because Punk’s first UFC fight was a wash for the pro-wrestling star, you would think there won’t be as much interest in his second bout. But, the guy is still a pretty, pretty big name. So when you factor that in, along with the rest of the line-up, UFC 225 could end up being one of the top drawing cards thus far in 2018.