Hype. Sometimes it raises the expectations-bar so impossibly high that it becomes nearly impossible to live up to (or exceed) the lofty potential.
So many possibilities of what could be build inside our minds. We anticipate the great things that might happen, or what sort of crazy things we could see. A great trailer, a stacked card, a massive change. And that’s without factoring in the numerous press conferences and Q&A sessions done in an effort to increase the excitement even further.
For months, the UFC was selling hype for UFC 200, and we fans were buying it up. Every last second of it. And here’s the thing: nobody was wrong for that. The UFC, for their part, loaded the card. They put out a top-quality serving of hype-beef, and we the consumer said, “hey, that’s a damn good looking hype-steak you got there Uncle Dana. Eat up kids, it’s a buffet of beautiful violence.” And so, as the hype built to a fever pitch, nearly anyone who had even a slight interest in MMA or “that UFC thing” knew the mega-show loomed. Expectations for the spectacle seemed pretty simple: be the biggest, best show of all time.
In the UFC’s mind, there were three tasks:
Set a new live-gate record
Set a new attendance record
Break the pay-per-view sales record (held by UFC 100)
According to Dave Sholler, the UFC’s top PR guy, the first two goals were achieved as outlined here by Forbes. A new live attendance (in Vegas) of more than 18,000 and a new-gate record of more than $10-million (slightly more than McGregor/Diaz I). The third, arguably most important goal won’t be clear for awhile yet until the numbers trickle in. We’re waiting for you to break the news, Mr. Meltzer.
While we wait though, let’s discuss the implications of the results from the main card. We’re just going to focus on that for this article, because that’s what a lot of people threw down their hard-earned coin for. The card started out on the right foot, with the match-up of former Heavyweight kingpin Cain Velasquez looking to make a statement against the always-tough Travis Browne. A spectacular kick, very befitting of the “this night is special” theme playing in our minds, and the hype-train had officially left the station and begun speeding for its destination, Suplex City.
Next up was the clash for the “Next Guy to Fight McGregor” championship. A good matchup on paper, but one we had seen before at UFC 156 (billed as a super fight back then, no less. side note: co-main event was Lil Nog/Evans. Woof). Normally, rematches tend to play out a bit differently than the first go around. This… was not the case here. It was virtually the same fight, with Aldo shrugging off Edgar’s takedown attempts and holding a slight, but clear, striking advantage once again. While a high-level scrap, it wasn’t exactly anything too dramatic, as neither man came close to finding a finish, and the decision result seemed clear from the early-goings of the fight.
The swing fight became Daniel Cormier against Anderson Silva. A tantalizing match-up on paper, as fans dreamt upon the idea of the legendary Silva turning back the clock, or the current Light-Heavyweight Champion Cormier obliterating the mystical aura of “The Spider”. Instead, the most-predictable outcome became reality, as Cormier mostly just maintained top position, riding out a comfortable 30-26 unanimous decision.
The co main event, what many fans were looking forward to most, was Brock Lesnar against Mark Hunt. Nothing needs to be said anymore about the match-up stylistically, it was finally time for one of the biggest stars in all of sport to return. The fight, while a very tense affair, wasn’t anything truly amazing (aside from Lesnar’s miraculous return and victory). The two behemoths were very cautious of the skills of the other man, which led to something of a tepid affair.
And finally, the main event was, remarkably, the women’s bantamweight title match-up that didn’t include Ronda Rousey. The potential PR disaster Simon spoke about before the event came to fruition, as Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes beat the brakes off of Miesha Tate in the first round. An entertaining few moments, and a great capper to the evening.
All in all, though? The event (from the kickoff of the main card) was just sorta, meh. The fights were okay, if unspectacular. Certainly not quite on par with UFC 100. Certainly not quite living up to the huge expectations. It wasn’t quite Mayweather/Pacquiao terms of nothingness, but it could have been more.