The saga of a scrap just can’t sell itself anymore. If the size of the fish can be demonstrated using a ruler, MMA media will grab a yardstick to steal a couple extra inches. While watching the weigh-ins to UFC Fight Night: Monterrey, Mexico, headlined by Neil Magny (16-5) versus Kelvin Gastelum (12-1), I was reminded of the media’s need to bait their hooks with delusion, justification for reeling in every possible viewer. At approximately 27:27 of the stream, Jussier Formiga (18-3) and Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo (9-0) are set to face-off in customary fashion. Emotions high, with power and ranking within the UFC’s flyweight division at stake, these two hungry, and dehydrated, contenders wasted no time in trying to establish their dominance.
If those at home mute the broadcast, they will witness two grappling specialists on winning streaks refuse to back down, even before being hugged by the Octagon. Once Formiga’s weight was verified, the third-ranked flyweight backed off of the scale and walked to his left to meet his fifth-ranked foe. Formiga and Cejudo locked eyes, and Formiga, as usual, assumed his stance, extending his left had to establish the bomb-delivering distance to Cejudo’s chin. Cejudo, an Olympic gold-medalist in Wrestling, refused to be kept at bay, so he instinctively pushed Formiga’s hand aside and closed the distance, meeting Formiga nose-to-nose. As one would expect, a bit of a tussle ensued, but it wasn’t anything that Joe Silva, UFC matchmaker, couldn’t easily control. The two fighters slated in the featured slot at UFC Fight Night: Monterrey, Mexico briefly exchanged words and stares before Cejudo’s coach pulled him toward the backstage area to begin replenishment.
Unfortunately, I had the volume cranked up to soak in the show’s ambiance. When the skirmish began, the commentary of Karyn Bryant and “Suga” Rashad Evans, two-thirds of the team behind the Fox Sports desk, immediately fractured any connection between my sense of sight and hearing.
The second Cejudo slapped Formiga’s hand out of the way, Evans could be heard sitting up straighter and more attentive in his Gelbach Designs chair saying,
“Oh, here we go!”
Admittedly, my posture improves in these moments, too. I’ve actually written about the importance of watching weigh-ins for specifically such an instance (link here).
In the world of fight promotion, discussions commonly meet a fork in the road. One direction persuades us to not forget to tune-in, and the other direction seeks out sovereignty in a hyperbolic state. Evans and Bryant chose the latter.
Heartbeats after the two flyweights instigated the drawing of a heavily weighted line in the sand, they were pried apart. Evans, toned in a swirl of advice and antagonism, let out,
“Save your energy boys, save your energy.”
Spats of intensity suggest prime real estate to cement a foundation that the UFC’s flyweight division has some heftiness to throw around, though Bryant loaded the audience into a time machine to travel back to MMA’s most clicked on and talked about buzz in MMA: UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm. More specifically in this instance: the UFC 193 weigh-ins,
“See, everybody wants the outside of the stare down, right, with Holly and Ronda.”
Before I could pull my decoder ring from my pocket to figure out what she even meant by that, Evans was accrediting Rousey for every fiery exchange at a weigh-in from here on out,
“Look what Ronda started!”
I am fully aware that the job of Evans and Bryant is to sweeten the appeal of any matchup presented by the UFC, but brandishing absurd comparisons grates my nerves against the fencing. UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championships, not Unsubstantiated Fictitious Coloring. In my opinion, each time speech or text about MMA is flowered feels like a missed opportunity to decorate the sport as mainstream.