A funny thing happened to the UFC 170 card after Rashad Evans injured his knee and pulled out of the co-main event with Daniel Cormier next Saturday night.
It got better.
With everyone's sentiment being a resounding "meh" in regards to a card they would have to begrudgingly pay another 55 bucks for, Wednesday's news that the fight would be scrapped made it even worse. But, a story has developed in the last 24 hours that could lead to more pay-per-view (PPV) buys than if the original fight was still intact.
The new narrative is that of a 4-0 pro by the name of Patrick Cummins taking the fight with Cormier on nine days notice. Cummins -- who until Wednesday evening was working in a coffee shop in Dana Point, California -- now finds himself on MMA's biggest stage, and Cormier, who wanted badly to stay on the card, has himself a new opponent.
As Don King would say, "Only in America."
From barista to light heavyweight contender overnight, thanks to sending out a well-timed Tweet that he would take the fight after Evans injury was announced. His manager Ryan Parsons then put him in touch with UFC President Dana White; a phone call he took at work, one that led to his firing from the coffee shop, by the way. David now has a little over a week to prepare for Goliath.
But it gets even better.
Turns out the walk on, two-time All-American from Penn State, used to train with Cormier a few years ago and he claims he used to make him cry. Well, that was enough for White and the UFC and they signed Cummins on Thursday afternoon. Realizing they may have caught lighting in a bottle with this story, White, Cormier and Cummins (White and Cormier were on remote) all appeared on FOX Sports live on Thursday night to promote UFC 170's newest match-up.
Let's just say Cummins was more than ready for primetime.
As Cummins was beginning to explain to host Charissa Thompson what went down when they both trained, a visibly agitated Cormier interrupted him and warned him he was getting under his skin.
"That's the key right there, I was getting ready for the Olympics," Cormier said, cutting him off. "Charissa this is the problem. Pat's never been the guy. I was the guy. The training was focused around me. It wasn't just Pat Cummins that was wrestling me. It was Pat Cummins and everybody else coming in and wrestling me. And also, I was going through some personal issues at the time, but Pat Cummins, you need to be careful what you saying bud, things that happen in that wrestling room stay in the wrestling room. So not only have you crossed the line, but you have completely put yourself in my crosshairs."
Cormier never denied anything happening between the two, and after making his comment about things needing to stay in the wrestling room, maybe Cummins did invoke tears or break him once upon a time. While Cormier was speaking, Cummins began mocking him by rubbing his eyes and pretending to cry. The UFC novice simply owned the moment, and the longer the segment went on, the more he got under Cormier's skin.
"You got punished, because you are going to have to step in that cage with me next week," Cormier said. "I like that you say that. I like being underestimated," Cummins fired back.
White could be seen smiling the whole time, as he was discovering -- as we all were -- what a great decision it was to sign Cummins and how a brand-new story was born out of the ashes of a fight that was once scrapped. In all honestly, bad blood between any of the fighters, or any kind of interesting storyline was conspicuously absent and sorely lacking throughout the entire promotional lead up to UFC 170.
The main event between Ronday Rousey and Sara McMann is a far cry from Rousey vs. Tate.
These first few salvos that were tossed about on FOX Sports Live will lead to a week full of mudslinging, and major pre-fight hype right through the weigh-ins, all the way up until Bruce Buffer announces the two former training partners next Saturday night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Not to mention the casual fan will be showing far more interest now, as they can always relate to the underdog story, and most likely Cummins will be anywhere from a +1200 to +1500 underdog for this fight. Everyone can get behind a Rocky Balboa. They can gravitate to a guy with only four pro fights seemingly heading out like a lamb to slaughter against a guy of Cormier's caliber. People will connect with someone who was working a regular job just like they do everyday and has now gotten the chance of a lifetime. They will tune in because they want to see if he can actually make it a fight, or "go the distance" like the fictitious Philly brawler in Rocky.
"Life is about opportunities," White said. "This guy got an opportunity and he jumped on it. In every conversation I've talked on the phone with this guy, he honestly, truly believes he is going to beat him on Saturday night, and I respect that."
Cummins isn't playing the "happy to be here" card either. He brought plenty of wit with him on his appearance on FOX Sports Live, and while he is no Chael Sonnen, he may have gotten his seal of approval after being asked what concerned him the most about the match-up.
"The biggest thing I'm worried about is what percentage of Daniel's purse I'm going to get when he doesn't make weight," Cummins said, implying Cormier wouldn't make the 205-pound limit. "Can we come to an agreement right now on what we are going to do? Let's say 20, 30 percent? Let's go for 30. How's that?"
Cormier informed him he would receive none of it and said he was "in over his head."
"I know that I can push him and he will break, " Cummins told Thompson when asked why he is so confident. "I mean it's plain and simple, plain and simple."
"I'm happy you are confident, because I don't want you to roll over," Cormier said. "I want you to go in there and actually try and win and get beat up for a good bit of time."
What a difference a day makes.
Cummins trades pulling double shots of espresso for preparing for Cormier's double leg takedowns, and Cormier gets his wish for a new opponent and remains on the card. Cormier isn't going anywhere win or lose. If Cummins puts forth a great effort and loses, his stock will still go up.
Will Cormier do the expected and smash Cummins? Or can the underdog rise to the occasion, seize the moment and pull off easily one of the biggest upsets in MMA history?
"What's going to happen? We never know what's going to happen," White said. "MMA is crazy, anything can happen. We'll find out next Saturday night."
It is undeniably crazy, the fight game that is. Just when you think you are headed into a dull card, it surprises you with a great underdog story like this. It breeds opportunity, gives chances, and can rescue you from the obscurity of a job at a coffee shop, straight into a co-main event on a PPV card.
Only in America.