In what otherwise has been another record-breaking year for the UFC the decline in its television ratings has been a cause of concern. Several Spike specials have set record low ratings, with fights featuring relatively low-profile or uncharismatic fighters failing to capture the imagination of the casual fight fan. The decline is real and can be shown in hard numbers; Fight Night 22 only did a 0.89 household rating and was actually outdrawn by The Ultimate Fighter 12 premiere episode it was meant to act as a lead in for.
While many look at the UFC’s increasingly hectic schedule as the main reason for the decline in interest the improved performance of The Ultimate Fighter over the past three seasons suggests that warnings of the sport being overexposed on television are unfounded. People will watch in large numbers if the UFC puts on fights that interest them.
With UFC 122, UFC 123 and UFC 124 all occurring within a month of each other one would be forgiven for assuming that ‘The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale’ would be the event to miss out. But in actuality the UFC has put together an intriguing set of fights for its final appearance on Spike TV in 2010.
In a sign of things to come when the UFC and WEC fully merge in 2011, a mouth-watering featherweight bout should kick the action off in some style as TUF 12 semi-finalist Nam Phan takes on Leonard Garcia, the man who along with the Korean Zombie put on one of the most acclaimed bouts of the year. Despite having competed as a lightweight on the most recent season of the reality show, Phan is a career featherweight and is well positioned to benefit from the introduction of the 145Ibs to the UFC. For a former TUF contestant he is remarkably well-travelled, with 23 fights and experience fighting at major promotions such as Sengoku, Strikeforce and even WEC. However Garcia should have the strength and wrestling to control and outpoint Phan in a close, exciting television debut for the UFC featherweight division.
The night will also see more traditional fight night fare, with former TUF contestants Kendall Grove and Stephen Bonnar in action. Grove takes on Demian Maia in what represents a major step up in competition for the TUF3 winner. With Grove always looking most comfortable on the ground it’s hard to see what his route to victory is against Maia given Maia’s world championship grappling credentials. Maia on the other hand will be looking to put together back-to-back victories for the first time in over a year and try to move back into world title contention. Stephen Bonnar on the other hand will be fighting to prove that his entertaining victory over Krzysztof Soszyński was not an aberration in an alarming career slump that had seen him lose his previous three fights. Against the heavy-handed Igor Pokrajac Bonnar will surely be looking to let his hands fly and push the fight standing. After all as he’s said he only knows one way to fight.
And finally the event will be capped off with the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 12 lightweight tournament with Michael Johnson and Jonathan Brookins. Johnson is coming off a close, controversial victory against Phan whilst Brookins secured a shutout decision victory against Kyle Watson. The key issue will be whether Johnson can avoid ending up on his back as Brookins has a significant advantage in terms of submission offense.
Overall, The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale is shaping up to be an entertaining night of fights with Leonard Garcia vs. Nam Phan likely to steal the show whilst the matches further up the card should provide plenty of action.
Tags: Demian Maia, Igor Pokrajac, Jonathan Brookins, Kendall Grove, Leonard Garcia, Michael Johnson, Mixed Martial Arts, Nam Phan, stephan bonnar