When the curtains part in Belem, Brazil, the UFC will have nowhere to go but up.
That has to be the hope, anyway. Saturday's uninspiring UFC on Fox 27 set a record low for TV ratings for the UFC on Fox series, per Dave Meltzer for MMA Fighting. And this was an event that aired on Fox, as opposed to cable network Fox Sports 1.
That is not good. Although it's impossible to nail down a single cause for this stuff, it may well be that the UFC's insistence on holding a card more or less every weekend is starting to catch up with it. UFC cards used to be deep. That's not the case anymore, with diluted talent at every turn. Surely this isn't what UFC brass is looking for as it negotiates a new broadcast deal.
So when UFC Fight Night 125 airs Saturday on FS1, the promotion has to be hoping for a rebound. No, a single cable card isn't going to make or break anything, but doesn't that notion help illustrate the problem?
In any event, this is a fun card dotted with fun fights. Here are the three you can't miss from Brazil.
Wanna feel old? Lyoto Machida is 39 years of age. Fans who have watched him the past couple of years are probably not as shocked. He's dropped three straight and four of five, sandwiched around an 18-month suspension for taking a banned substance.
Eryk Anders is one of the hottest names in the division. The former University of Alabama linebacker has formidable boom in his hands, delivering a knockout to Rafael Natal in his UFC debut last summer. He has the strength of an ox and a good gas tank, even if the rest of his game remains a bit of a question mark—especially at this level.
Machida has enjoyed a great career, but he's living on his name. His past two losses both came by knockout. Anders may be unproven in some ways, but it won't matter for this fight. The Brazilian faithful aren't going home happy.
It might be anticlimactic to have two of the three can't-miss fights be the main and co-main event. But this is a top-heavy card. Unless you are pumped to the rafters for Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Morales or the squash match-in-waiting that is Valentina Shevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira, this is about as good as it gets on this card or in the bantamweight division.
John Dodson is 2-2 since returning to 135 pounds. He needs a big win to stay in the metaphorical mix. Blazing speed and one-punch knockout power mean he can get it in a flash.
Pedro Munhoz is well-rounded with some smooth striking, but grappling is his sharpest weapon. Nine of the jiu-jitsu black belt's 15 pro wins came by submission. The one-armed guillotine choke he used to finish Rob Font in the first round of his most recent fight was slicker than grape jelly on a brass doorknob.