Why the lack of excitement around UFC International Fight Week?

In recent years, the UFC’s International Fight Week has been anything but average, having showcased some of the most brilliant bouts mixed martial arts can offer. In 2017, the UFC’s annual summer siesta doesn’t feel to be packing the usual heat of July’s of past.

A glance at previous showdowns provided much to relish in and despite this being a credible card, it’s not what we’ve come to expect from the UFC in recent history. Any other time in the year, UFC 213 would have been viable for such a stage. Not to take anything away from the competitors themselves, but it lacks the mainstream attention and only possesses just an iota of the excitement we, realistically, should be feeling as Saturday approaches.

Years of past presented Weidman versus Silva, followed by Weidman and Machida as well as the monumental UFC 189 card topped by Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes in 2015. Even last year’s freakshow that was UFC 200, through its horrific collapse mid-week and peculiar matchmaking, still packed more enthusiasm than this year’s event.

There is a sincere lack of special flavour to this card. Despite it being headlined by Amanda Nunes, who just eviscerated the most dominant woman in the promotion’s history, she still finds herself battling for legitimacy and justification with many as a true attraction with much of the flaw coming from the UFC’s decision to only market Rousey’s comeback instead of looking both ways in attempting to legitimise Amanda’s abilities. Following on from the one-sided battering, the UFC has done extremely little to promote Nunes as both a fighter and an outstanding figure of the LGBT community – an area that is still untouched.

The real issue is the organisation’s system of creating stars and even when attempted, the effort hasn’t been successful. You may argue that Conor is a star through the UFC, but he was a hit with the Irish and European fanbase long before joining the UFC, especially as those same fans were the ones urging Dana to sign McGregor any chance they were given. They also only began to build on Ronda Rousey following her brawling victory over Miesha Tate back in StrikeForce.

The UFC may have an extraordinary media reach at hand, but it takes them enough time to figure out their directions. The stars they try to capitalise with, such as the evergreen Sage Northcutt and Paige Van Zant, come crumbling down through lack of patience and that’s a shame because, come the summertime when Ronda is appearing on television answering zero questions about ever returning to fighting and McGregor is away working on the biggest battle in combat sports history as well as other names on the sideline, it really leaves you at a loss as to why fans should fork out so much money for the privilege to be part of what should be MMA’s showcase of the summer.

2017 hasn’t been the fairest or grandest of years for the UFC through aforementioned points, but a company worth $4.2 billion should be prepared for situations such as this, or so you would think. It’s tough to get the juices flowing for much of Saturday. It’s coming home to find your rottweiler has been replaced by a pug – the ferocity is non-existent. ideally, without the TUF Finale, Johnson vs. Gaethje is the ferocity UFC 213 could have included.

As eras are quickly shifting in MMA, the UFC need to act fast on putting dollars into formidable champions and contenders alike. The company has a tough time justifying the record price tag without it. The quicker Conor is back, the sooner the UFC can feel soothed, but it’s times like these the reality of the UFC’s flaws are gaping.