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UFC on FOX 15 preview: 'Machida vs. Rockhold' a welcome respite from promotion's cyclical circus

"He's a gentleman. He's a martial artist."

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Every now and again, the character "Newman" on "Seinfeld" would have a momentary breakdown, paralyzed by the unyielding truth that mail never stops.

That's kind of how it works in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA).

In addition to having a televised fight card nearly every weekend, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will stage four live events in the span of seven days this July, spread across pay-per-view (PPV), FOX Sports 1, and the UFC Fight Pass digital network.

Participating athletes will be afforded one to five rounds to maximize their exposure, depending on card placement. That said, a fighter is more likely to have success making his or her name before the fight, through various media appearances, interviews, and of course, social media.

That's why a majority of marquee fights -- real or fantasy -- devolve into a semi-orchestrated circus.

Chael Sonnen was a mid-level fighter with great wrestling and below-average hands, certainly not championship material by UFC standards. But the now-retired "Gangster" understood that if his name was more valuable than his skill set, he would still have a job after getting blown out of the water, even when the stakes were at their highest.

Helps explains this.

There were dozens of fighters before Sonnen who played the same card, just fewer events to showcase their bombast. And as we've seen over the last few years, there are dozens of fighters to follow him, too, equipped with promissory notes bartering violence for attention.

By the time Conor McGregor was done terrorizing Jose Aldo during their protracted World Tour, I needed a warm sitz bath to cleanse myself.

That's one of many reasons I'm looking forward to the UFC on FOX 15 main event between Lyoto Machida and Luke Rockhold. It has all the makings of a perfect fight, in that it offers two evenly-matched opponents competing for a prize second only to the division championship.

The right to compete for it.

More than that, "Machida vs. Rockhold" is a breath of fresh air, a secession from the daily avalanche of, Oh shit, did you hear what [insert fighter here] said? In the three months that have transpired since this fight was announced, the best (and perhaps only) example of "trash talk" was Rockhold labeling Machida an upgraded version of Michael Bisping.

We'll find out on Saturday night.

But outside the occasional brickbat, the UFC on FOX 15 headliner is being measured on the merits of the fight itself. A rarity these days, because combat sports is first and foremost a business. Tickets have to be sold, PPVs need to be purchased, and sponsors must be wooed.

If every card were as quietly dignified as "Machida vs. Rockhold," the purses would be on par with arena parking.

I understand there's a certain amount of pomp and circumstance required for a summer extravaganza like UFC 189, just as I recognize the mainstream rubbernecking generated by an athletic freak like Brock Lesnar, who can clean and jerk sagging PPV sales, or serve as a welcome mat for the next big thing.

To a large degree, it's helped further websites like the one you're on right now.

But as we gear up for the headlines of tomorrow, I hope you'll join me in appreciating the foundation this sport was built on, unarmed combat, because the best representation of it will take place this weekend in Newark, New Jersey (of all places). After that, it's right back to the carnival.

I hope they sell funnel cake at MGM Grand.

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