Article by Dave Walsh
This weekend the UFC will put an event on Fox, one of America’s largest broadcast networks, with the main event featuring a UFC Championship match between Demetrious Johnson and John Moraga. In theory, it is a great idea for the UFC to be putting a Championship bout on free TV on their biggest platform to reach the most amount of viewers, yet something feels off. That something that feels off is that once again the UFC finds itself promoting a fight that fans — even the hardcore ones — can’t seem to muster up any level of excitement for.
If you aren’t familiar with John Moraga, don’t feel bad, because you aren’t the only one. Moraga has fought in the UFC twice now, both times he has fought opening up the Facebook portion of those respective cards. You know, the fights that only some of the hardcores and some of the media watch but most casual fans don’t watch? At least Chris Weidman, who did not have a ton of exposure before his bout with Anderson Silva, appeared on main cards a few times in his UFC career before he was pushed into a main event.
To say that fans don’t know who Moraga is might be a bit of an understatement. Add to that the fact that the UFC has not done a whole lot to promote the UFC Flyweight division, as well as some of the other lighter weight classes. There were big promises of non stop action from the smaller fighters, yet the fights have seemed to blend together with the rest of the UFC’s machine of producing a homogeneous product that favors the brand over the individual athletes.
John Moraga is a great fighter, but this title shot feels forced and rushed due to how the UFC has handled the Flyweight division and is, in a way, dooming the division to be a failure due to under promoting it. Sure, you might know who John Moraga is, but you are reading a website dedicated to MMA news and analysis, there is a good chance that you are a part of the UFC’s baseline that we always hear about when it comes to PPV purchases.
To the average fan it might be difficult to pick these guys out of a lineup, which has nothing to do with their skills or abilities and everything to do with how little promotional work the UFC has put into these events and fighters. Moving a fighter from the Facebook prelims in front of an empty arena into a main event title match seems absurd by any stretch of the imagination. The excuse of “but it’s free!” will always be hanging over events like this on Fox, but the reality is, this is the UFC’s chance to impress the world with their best and most popular fighters. It might not be the right time to try to build up younger, lesser-known fighters in front of a national audience which, quite honestly, probably won’t be tuning in.