WELCOME BACK; PLEASE DON’T FORGET WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME WE WERE HERE

By E. SPENCER KYTE | Posted 1 month ago

There is an old adage in combat sports that says “you’re only as good as your last fight,” which is essentially used to tell fighters that everything you accomplished before that last appearance doesn’t really matter; it’s what you did last time that counts most.

I’ve always thought it was a dumb way of looking at things because most people don’t grade athletes exclusively by their last outings. Your track record matters, influences how you’re viewed, and contributes to the legacy a competitor has built or the story heading into their next appearance.

Sure, some fans and media are quick to turn on competitors that catch a bad loss or lay an egg, tossing everything else they’ve done prior to that point out the window because their fickle, fair-weather observers who constantly change their stances on athletes, but those people are to be ignored, not emboldened and used as the basis for discussing the careers and talents of tenured fighters, or anyone for that matter.

History, whether recent or far removed, is an important thing to remember at all times, including in terms of combat sports and it athletes.

Which is why I’m urging MMA fans to not forget how absolutely lights out awesome UFC 300 was as the UFC returns to action this weekend.

An event of that magnitude, that delivered that many electric fights and outstanding moments can’t just be chalked up as over and done and no longer a factor now that things are shifting back to the UFC APEX this weekend and then off to Rio de Janeiro for a Brazilian-heavy pay-per-view event the following Saturday.

The thing very few people in the MMA space ever really want to talk about is how colossal events like the company’s tricentennial on April 13 come at a price; that the events surrounding it are destined to be lesser because of how incredibly stacked that event was.

A dozen of the 13 fights on that card could have served as main event contests without many people batting an eye, and each of them would certainly have brought greater star-power and name recognition to this weekend’s event in Las Vegas or next weekend’s trip to Brazil.

Toss the clash between Aljamain Sterling and Calvin Kattar atop Saturday’s fight card and it instantly grows in esteem amongst fans and critics, and add Diego Lopes and Sodiq Yusuff or Arman Tsarukyan and Charles Oliveira to next weekend’s pay-per-view follow-up to UFC 300 and you have an undeniably stronger main card. But that also means the marquee event of the year so far would have been less star-studded, and people were already a little meh about the lineup before Fight Week finally rolled around and folks started recognizing the overall awesomeness of the lineup.

And that’s a persistent two-headed problem that people don’t seem to want to deal with in this space.

On one hand, nothing is ever good enough; there is always something more that fans and media want added to a show in order to make it even better or elevate it to a position of being worth their time investment.

At the same time, there is no interest in reducing the amount of talent on a show like UFC 300 in order to bolster those surrounding events that constantly get bashed as being not good enough because somehow, fight cards like that have now become the desired norm when it comes to pay-per-view events, as if running cards of that caliber 13 times a year is possible.

Now, this is the point where someone reading this will shout, “It is possible if the UFC stopped running shows every weekend and stacked these events like they did in the past” because they refuse to accept that the UFC is not ever going to go back to doing 26 shows a year, and that those events from past weren’t as loaded with talent as they remember them to have been.

We all have to be a little more realistic here, and the reality is that the UFC is going to continue to maintain its current schedule, and in order to have colossal pay-per-view events even a couple times a year, there have to be tradeoffs.

If you want events like UFC 300, you have to accept events like this weekend’s APEX show, which is headlined by a solid flyweight pairing and features a handful of names that are interesting to completists like me that want to watch and track every fight throughout the year, but is one of those shows that the more discerning crowd could certainly skip without missing out on too much of significance.

What really gets me is that there isn’t even a “you’re only as good as your last fight” equivalent when it comes to these shows, because if there were, the UFC would have a little more leeway when it comes to Saturday’s return to the APEX.

Instead, it’s simply “thanks for UFC 300, now give me something better than what you’re offering here!” which feels real problematic for the business because there is no way to satisfy that set within the current UFC landscape… and that landscape isn’t changing, so we have to find some kind of resolution, or the most vocal fight fans and media critics out there are constantly going to be left underwhelmed and unsatisfied by the UFC.

Shuffling a few fights from the historic UFC 300 lineup to these next two shows would have meant replacing them with other, likely lesser pairings, and that would have simply upped the criticism surrounding the highly anticipated pay-per-view, which, as previously mentioned, was deemed “good, but not great” by a huge segment of the MMA-loving populous right up until the event was the next thing on the calendar.

And, if we’re being honest, moving a couple of those non-title fights to this weekend and next wouldn’t help those cards escape criticism entirely either; it might reduce the harshness of the criticism a little, but plenty of folks would still find all kinds of things to moan about even if Jiri Prochazka and Aleksandar Rakić or Kayla Harrison and Holly Holm were headlining tomorrow and several of the Brazilians that competed at UFC 300 were ticketed to fight in their home country the following Saturday.

So I beg of you, friends, please don’t just look at UFC 300 as an event that happened and is over and done with as the UFC returns to business this weekend.

Appreciate it. Remember it. Cherish it.

Let its greatness carry you through these next couple events, understanding that massive cards like that come at a price, and it wasn’t that long ago that some of the names that made that event special were competing on fight cards that were deemed “not good enough” themselves.

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