At UFC on FOX 5, two young lions will have the chance to upend two legends.
As a company, the UFC should be rooting for that.
In every walk of life there is a transition. A natural move from the old to the new. In a business model like the UFC’s, making new names is a business in itself. Popular fighters, “name” guys, eventually have to get defeated for the next “name” to be made.
Rashad Evans fought to a draw with Tito Ortiz and knocked out Chuck Liddell, gaining enough steam to eventually face Forrest Griffin for the light heavyweight title and make a name all on his own. Jon Jones went on one of the great streaks in MMA history, defeating Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans. The progression of a rising star taking the place of a fading one is business as usual for the UFC.
The UFC is banking on Rory MacDonald and Alexander Gustafsson to be those rising stars. They’re set to face BJ Penn and Shogun Rua on free TV in what should easily break the five-million-viewer plateau. If they win impressively, the UFC can easily promote them as the new legend killers.
If they lose, they’ll miss out on their best chance to capitalize on becoming box office hits.
Whether we like it or not, BJ and Shogun's careers are in a downturn. With a combined 53 fights, a win here is just padding to already stellar careers. In three years, we’ll be lucky if either man is still in the UFC.
Ares and the Mauler are 23 and 25 respectively, with 29 matches between them. In three years, they’ll be entering their prime and well on their way to stardom. A big win on UFC on FOX 5 will jump-start that. The UFC brass know that, and they’ll be silently rooting for a highlight-reel finish by each of the young guns. It’s just good for business.