Dana White has mentioned doing 'UFC Primetime" for a couple of championship fights since Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn II at UFC 94. Those fights being Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II, and Rashad Evans vs. Rampage Jackson. However, White has been faced with uncontrollable circumstances that have thwarted his plan to produce these two fights with a UFC Primetime of their own. Lesnar/Mir II has been pushed back from UFC 98 to UFC 100, and Evans/Jackson has been scrapped altogether for now. Rashad Evans will face Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 because of an injury Jackson.
Here's my thinking with UFC Primetime.
Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar II is a match that sells itself, and will take place on one of if not the biggest Zuffa card ever in UFC 100. Lesnar is a PPV behemoth that even casual fans are aware of, and Mir just got a whole season of TUF for exposure. I'm not sure how much effect a UFC Primetime show would have on the PPV buyrate for this event. It's going to do huge PPV numbers regardless. With the first UFC Primetime clocking in at 1.7 million dollars to produce, I think Zuffa can get a better return on the investment if they feature Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida on UFC Primetime and here's why:
Rashad Evans is finally gaining traction with the fans, and this will be his 4th main event fight in the UFC. However, Machida is still largely unknown even after being featured on a couple of UFC Countdown shows. Think about this, Machida is the favorite coming into this fight as of right now and has the potential to become the next UFC light heavyweight champion. Why wouldn't they want to give Machida this exposure? Even if he doesn't win this fight against Evans, he's still a top 5 light heavyweight. This exposure could pay off down the road when he fights again. Evans has become pretty adept in selling his fights as evident in his trash talking segment with Rampage Jackson at UFC 96. According to him, that wasn't planned on his part and he shot from the hip so to speak. So I could only imagine what would transpire if given an entire show for him to build this fight. I think it would be relatively easy for viewers to choose sides given the opportunity. It would also give the fans an opportunity to venture inside the mind of one of MMA's smartest fighters(Machida) just days away from the fight. Which in turn would accomplish three things:
- Potentially help the PPV buyrate for UFC 98
- Give more exposure to your current champion
- Give more exposure to a fighter that could become your new champion.
Also, I think changing the format would be beneficial. The initial UFC Primetime show consisted of three 30 minute segments. I know it would probably cost more, but I think two 1 hour segments would be better. The regular UFC Countdown shows are one hour features. Why not do the same for UFC Primetime?