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Midnight Mania! Here’s why UFC 230’s new main event is nonsense

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UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

“In spite of my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage”

I was reminded of one of the UFC’s best-ever promo videos recently, ahead of UFC 183’s non-title main event involving Nick Diaz and Anderson Silva. It involved the elder Diaz brother pacing back and forth in the darkness, surrounded by screens with his face on them, and the Smashing Pumpkins chorus to the song “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” playing in the background. The refrain was exceptionally well-suited to Diaz, a figure famous for bucking the system, skipping press conferences he didn’t want to attend, and excoriating his promoter, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, for everything from selling “wolf tickets” to what he saw as their preferential treatment of his rival Georges St. Pierre. Nick was also hit with a ridiculously harsh penalty for weed use by the NSAC, despite the test being of questionable value, a penalty that many saw as a result of the commissioners’ dim view of his rebellious attitude.

His younger brother, Nate Diaz, exemplifies many of these same qualities. Nate (accurately) called the UFC’s title belts “fairy tales”, has slammed the promotion for under-promoting him, even slapped UFC president Dana White himself. His frustration fundamentally stems from his understanding that he works with a monopolistic corporation that systematically undervalues their labor force because they can, paying less than an estimated 17% of their revenue to fighters, while locking fighters into exclusive long-term contracts. Diaz knows this because he is familiar with the professional boxing world, where top fighters routinely take home 50-70% of the revenue. He has also demonstrated a willingness to hold out for his worth, for years at a time if need be. The UFC do not enjoy when one of their fighters gets bargaining power — as Diaz did after he choked out Conor McGregor at UFC 196— and knows how to use it, as Diaz did, forcing contentious negotiations before his rematch with McGregor at UFC 202.

It is hard not to see a pattern of punitive retribution in the UFC’s latest decision, to pass over a compelling main event between Diaz and violentweight champion Dustin Poirier for a fight between a woman who is proven NOT to be a significant draw fighting a complete unknown. (No disrespect to Valentina Shevchenko and Sijara Eubanks; this is solely a statement in regard to their drawing power with casual fans).

For some background, when the UFC couldn’t find a compelling main event for UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden, Nate and his opponent Dustin Poirier attempted to help their promoter out with some free buzz, with Nate “announcing” a 165-lb. ‘superfighter’ weight division, with himself and Poirier main eventing UFC 230 in Madison Square Garden for the inaugural title fight. It was a good idea, immediately backed up by a number of other fighters, including Conor McGregor in a recent interview. The UFC has a high concentration of talent between 155 and 170; many of the bigger lightweights on the roster struggle with large weight cuts, such as Kevin Lee, who has been asking for this division for years. It would also potentially set up a superfight with the winner of this weekend’s UFC 229 main event clash between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Dana White seems very resistant to the idea, however, for reasons that aren’t quite clear.

Dustin Poirier seems to blame Nate Diaz for the UFC’s failure to make their fight the main event. It is the UFC who are the promoters; this extraordinarily unpopular decision falls on them and them alone. In the current era of devalued UFC titles and interim belts that appear and then vanish on the shifting needs of the promoter, a new division was a fresh idea with seemingly no downside. Perhaps welterweight would need to be shifted to 175 from 170, but in the current landscape that simply means a little less weight for fighters in that division to cut.

But even if the UFC didn’t create a new division, it’s hard to understand how a five-round main event between Poirier and Diaz, both with proven ability to bring high-level violence in main events, is less compelling than a fight in which the A-side headlined a Pay-Per-View that sold an abysmal 100,000 PPV buys. Seriously- that’s the bottom of the barrel for modern UFC events. It doesn’t get worse than that. Nate Diaz, by comparison, headlined the biggest UFC PPV event in history, a non-title grudge match with Conor McGregor at UFC 202. The Diaz bump in that fight was bigger than three belts combined, including a historic second belt for McGregor, a few months after that event at UFC 205. Diaz and Poirier will be fighting a mere month after McGregor’s return this Saturday, a great time to bring the Diaz-McGregor rivalry back into focus.

Dustin Poirier is not a bad B-side, either, a compelling figure with decent mic skills who has headlined free cards on Fox and Fox Sports 1. Poirier not been in a single boring fight since at least his Fight of the Year with Chan Sung Jun, win or lose — 17 straight exciting bouts. He has three bonuses in his last three fights. The clash with Diaz not only deserves, it fairly screams for five rounds.

The reactions have been universally negative, MMA fans online all wondering just what the promoter is thinking.

It isn’t too late to fix. The UFC just has to make Poirier vs. Diaz a five-round main event ahead of Shevchenko vs. Eubanks (I never even got into how we lost out on Shevchenko vs. Jedrzejczyk for this). Everyone, including Shevchenko and Eubanks, would win. As of now, the UFC are ensuring that all parties involved are losing, and there is nothing we can do about it. Diaz, is, despite all his rage, still just a rat in a cage.


Dana White did attempt to explain his refusal to consider 165, and failed to come up with even a single coherent reason not to do so.

Tony Ferguson was FIRED UP at the UFC 229 press event, and understandably so.

Daniel Cormier trolled Jon Jones for being a snitch after Suga Sean O’Malley was forced to withdraw from UFC 229 after a positive drug test.

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#oneshotonekill #sniper #snitch

A post shared by Daniel "DC" Cormier (@dc_mma) on

Throwback to a hilarious Jon Jones moment with Ovince St. Preux:

I’m not the biggest fan of Brendan Schaub but this is pretty cool:

Anthony Pettis has been training hard for Tony Ferguson

Throwback to an Andrea Lee fight before she got to the UFC:

Michael Bisping shared this truly amazing video, which made me feel small in the best way possible.

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How’s this make you feel?

A post shared by Mikebisping (@mikebisping) on

Gina Carano says instead of letting her choke you out, you could just take a class.

Random Land

Mess with the rhino and you get the oxpecker.

How is this level of skill, fair?

This account has some of the most haunting and poignant images on the internet.

Note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 song, “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” by the song’s chorus line. I apologize for my deep cultural and musical ignorance. As my excuse, I offer that I was 4 years old when it was released, and also didn’t listen to music until I was 21. However, once it was pointed out to me, I remembered my friend Jared correcting the same mistake in a 2015 conversation, so apologies to him too.

Stay woke, Maniacs! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality