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UFC 208 Aftermath: Cyborg’s shadow looms large

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Anyone who struggles to sleep might want to catch a reply of UFC 208. To be quite honest, I haven’t been so eager for a PPV to finish since I was in attendance for UFC 169 in New Jersey. Coincidently, that card too had only one finish that night. Don’t get me wrong I’m not part of the ‘Just Bleed’ fraternity, and appreciate the finer intricacies of MMA, but I’m sure everyone can agree that there is nothing quite like a beautiful submission or KO. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and this may teach UFC and the wider WME/IMG business that when it comes to PPV it’s time to stack the deck and give the fans more bang for their buck.

All the talk before and even in the aftermath of UFC 208 was about Cyborg and the fact this title/division was made for her. Sadly, for the 2 women who competed, it was irrelevant who won on Saturday. The combination or Cyborg’s shadow looming large over the main event and ultimately how poor the card was overall will mean that this event gets consigned to the back of everyone’s thoughts.

Unfortunately for the UFC, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot competition should she dispatch of the new champion, Germaine de Randamie, despite Invicta doing a great job of putting together a batch of fighters at 145 and 155, but let’s be completely honest here, Cyborg decimates anyone in her path. There will be talk of current bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes making the step up in a proposed superfight, and it could be an interesting fight in terms of skillsets and to see how Nunes’ power help up at that division. The UFC have essentially created a division that has 3 active fighters in it currently, with 1 of them requiring hand surgery (De Randamie), the other likely to move back down to 135 (Holm) and the other in Cyborg who could still be facing a lengthy ban from a potential USADA violation.

Personally, I feel the inclusion of a women’s flyweight division was the most sensible route to go if they were keen to add additional weight classes. Who wouldn’t want to see how a Joanna Jedrzejczyk looks at a weight where she wouldn’t have to cut, along with multiple other women in that division who would surely benefit from fighting at an optimal level?

I feel that Cyborg’s role in the UFC is better suited and marketed as a one or two times a year special event fighter, she has a little old school Mike Tyson about her, aggressive, intimidating and highly skilled – in an age where the UFC are looking to put on the biggest fights that are going to attract a wider audience, Cyborg definitely ticks that box. I understand that many will feel this doesn’t deviate from the matter at hand regarding building a division to build around her, but I feel both sides benefit from her being an occasional one-off attraction.

When it was announced that she was going to join the UFC in addition to her Invicta contract, I was all for her being involved in superfights with the likes of Holm, Tate and even a certain Ronda Rousey, granted, two of those fighters are likely to never return, but it was the mere thought of those three women being pitted against her that really made things interesting, not just needlessly throwing a belt around her and trying to build a division from there. Despite Cyborg’s past and current predicament with drug testing, the UFC would be wise to get the marketing propaganda around her. The need for stars across multiple divisions has never been greater and Cyborg brings something special to MMA.

It’s obvious to see that The UFC thought they were counteracting the negative backlash of the videos that were released in her trauma of cutting needlessly down to 140 lbs. I’m sure that anyone who viewed clips of her documentary in the run up to her debut at UFC 198 can see how unpleasant it was for her to make the catchweight, so the next logical step was to include a 145 division, but I think this is one experiment that will not work and both parties would be better suited to creating events around a couple of matches a year.

A blackbelt in armchair combat sports banter, Leith is a passionate follower of MMA and Boxing...sometimes taking this passion to levels only a fiery Scotsman can; during his rants on the sports, resembling 'a slightly smaller' version of Austin Powers' character, Fat Bastard! A lover of the fight game since he was old enough to watch his first fight (Mike Tyson v Frank Bruno 1 if you must ask), he eats, sleeps and breathes the crazy world of combat sports, but hasn't ever considered stepping in the ring or cage...he is far too pretty for that!

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