With Chael Sonnen’s rematch against Anderson Silva now migrating from Brazil to Las Vegas, UFC 148 becomes the Miami Heat of fight cards. It is stacked, stuffed, loaded and insane.
And let’s face it, this annually huge Vegas card had a pot of gold drop in its lap: Sonnen/Silva II is already a big enough fight to tune in. The UFC could have booked Yoislandy Izquierdo against T.J. Grant as the co-main and things would still have been fine on July 7.
But the UFC’s July 4 weekend is all Roman candles and Saturn missiles, and it’s quickly become a countdown of matchmaking franchises. Aside from Sonnen/Silva II, there’s Urijah Faber versus Dominick Cruz III, Forrest Griffin versus Tito Ortiz II, Cung Le versus Rich Franklin I. All told, there are two belts in play, a swan song or a UFC pioneer, and a return to middleweight for the former champion Franklin, who is 100 percent guaranteed to put on a features-contorting brawl.
To Vegas go all the spoils.
What was meant to happen in Vegas isn’t staying there -- Boetsch and Bisping, a big intrigue pairing of middleweights that was originally slated for UFC 148, is now headed for UFC 149 in Alberta. And this is ultimately a good move by the UFC. Why lose a contender’s type bout to a thousand bunched-up storylines at UFC 148 while peripheral PPV cards -- UFC 147 and UFC 149 -- could use the additional heft?
When the first question out of people’s mouths is nearly always “what’s next,” the guys chasing Sonnen/Silva are pretty important to the scheme of things. In the fight game we’re dealing in tapestries. The newly resurrected Tim Boetsch and the MMA’s “forever contender” Michael Bisping will get a better shake at the Saddledome behind headliners Jose Aldo and Erik Koch. Let Sonnen/Silva play out, and this fight takes on more significance. It’s our duty to talk, after all, and to invent the stakes while playing at what’s in Joe Silva’s head.
And right now, a lot of people more readily recall Boetsch losing by “Philmura” against Phil Davis instead of him storming back against Yushin Okami at UFC 144. If he’s really closing on a title shot at 185 pounds, Boetsch could use the boost of a co-main event type spotlight. Right now he’s more journeyman than contender. He’s never been the recipient of Zuffa’s marketing machine. It’s time to gussy him up.
As for Bisping? He believes the same thing he’s been believed for years -- that he’s the hands down No. 1 contender. Obviously there’s still the matter of Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman out there, but Bisping might actually be on to something this time through. With unpredictable circumstances and injuries and schedule syncing and suspensions and all the things that get in the way in obvious matchmaking, the Briton really might be next in line.
Or he might not. But that we can care sufficiently enough to find out is lucky for him and Tim Boetsch. In this rare case it’s better to jump cards than end up lost in the shuffle.