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UFC 72 main card line up announced ... but do casual fanscare?

ufc 72 fight card
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) officially announced the main fight card for UFC 72: "Victory," which will take place in Belfast (northern Ireland) on June 16.

Here are the four guaranteed fights for the 3 p.m. EST pay-per-view (PPV) telecast:

185 lbs.: Rich Franklin (21-2) vs. Yushin Okami (20-3)
205 lbs.: Forrest Griffin (13-4-0) vs. Hector Ramirez (6-2-1)
185 lbs.: Jason MacDonald (18-8) vs. Rory Singer (11-6)
155 lbs.: Tyson Griffin (8-1-0) vs. Clay Guida (21-7)

For the complete UFC 72 fight card click here.

Over the last few weeks and months, a majority of readers here and elsewhere have voiced their displeasure with this event. Perhaps that's because it went from being FREE on Spike television to a $40 PPV event, or many are unimpressed with the line up.

Who knows ... it could also be a combination of those two factors.

As a result, the abundance of negative feedback leading up to this event leads me to believe that it won't break any PPV buy rates. And, according to a recent article in Sports Illustrated, this could signal a potential problem for the UFC down the road.

Here's a snip on "oversaturation" in general:

"... there is one conceivable obstacle to UFC's continued success, and it is one few people are talking about: oversaturation. Oversaturation will not necessarily resonate with fans of baseball, hockey or basketball. Major League Baseball runs more events in one year than UFC will in 10. However, there is a key difference. Much of UFC's income comes from its pay-per-view buy rates. Hundreds of thousands of fans pay $40 to watch each event on pay-per-view television. There is a different dynamic involved in convincing someone to watch something for free than in convincing them to pay for it. There has to be a hook that gets fans excited. Thus, the basic formula for pay-per-view success is making each show feel special. The more shows that an entity runs, the more difficult that task becomes."

And UFC 72 in particular:

"... UFC 72: Victory ... has very little star power, and it is going to test how far the UFC name goes. Headlining the event is Rich Franklin vs. Yushin Okami. It is an interesting fight to insiders and hardcore fans, as it's a battle between top middleweight contenders. But the fight lacks sizzle for the casual audience. Franklin is a well-known star, but Okami's popularity and notoriety aren't equal to his skills. There is also only one legitimate star on the undercard, Forrest Griffin, but he is coming off a devastating loss and is facing a largely unknown opponent in Hector Ramirez. It is going to be hard to sell large amounts of fans on this show, unless the recent media blitz has brought in a new batch who will buy it because of the brand name. Assuming the show does a significantly lower buy rate, the question becomes whether that is a significant problem. It might very well prove to be. UFC has a fan base that orders each and every pay-per-view. Given the Silva-Lutter buy rate, that number might be as high as 350,000. UFC doesn't want that group to start picking and choosing between its shows. Once a percentage of that group doesn't order one show, ordering the next becomes an open question rather than a foregone conclusion."

As I've said before, I'll be purchasing this event ... I think this can be a sleeper event, especially with Griffin-Guida on the card — it's a fantastic match up. I'm also not counting out Ramirez — both he and Griffin love to scrap and someone should get knocked out.

UFC 72 is also at 3 p.m. — that's an interesting twist right there. Midday UFC action? C'mon, that's never happened before.

Going forward, however, I think the Sports Illustrated article is right on. Casual fans aren't going to find events like UFC 72 as interesting as "hardcore" fans (lord I hate that term), and it will affect PPV buy rates (if not on June 16, certainly in the future).

Unfortunately, far too often big names rather than good fights dictate the financial success of combat sports events.

Put simply, there's a delicate balance between oversaturation and consistent UFC action. Hopefully, Zuffa execs can find it in the wake of UFC 72.

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