The Situation With the UFC’s First ESPN+ Card is Officially Nuts

Yesterday morning, I sat down at this very keyboard and wrote out what I thought was a solid blog regarding the next UFC Fight Night in Brooklyn, which also happens to be the UFC’s first card on ESPN+ as part of the new UFC-ESPN deal. Well, that blog got deleted instead of being sent to Red for publishing. Fuck. Fate seems to have intervened, as it does however, and a whirlwind of announcements have been made since. Hard to tell where to begin.

What I wrote about yesterday was the UFC insensitively booking Greg Hardy’s debut for the Brooklyn card when the only other fight scheduled (at.the.time) was Paige Van Zant vs. Rachel Ostovich. Ostovich, if you don’t know, is the fighter who came into the public consciousness recently for the worst reasons, having been the victim of a brutal attack at the hands of her husband, a fellow MMA fighter. I mean, he broke her orbital bone. Ghastly stuff. But she’s a fighter, and fighters fight, and she decided to stay on the card, So what does the UFC do? O, only books a guy convicted of beating, strangling, and tossing, onto a bed laden with guns no less, his girlfriend. Best case scenario this was just a massive missed communication – not a misspelling by the way, I don’t mean signals crossed, I mean signals missed altogether. Worst case the UFC went too far with their “everybody deserves a second chance” stance on Hardy and this being a big event, decided it shouldn’t matter who he fights alongside. What I think they might do, given the backlash, is move his fight to a different card. Make the guy wait and excuse yourself with an “aw shucks” shrug. That will be enough. No need for a gigantic, phony public apology. If Ostovich raises hell however they are going to be in quite the spot with the press and fans alike.

That was supposed to be it. The Hardy-Ostovich story. But noooope. This card curiously lacked a headliner. What did the UFC do? They only moved the biggest fight they currently have booked, the Champ vs. Champ 125lb Title Fight between Henry Cejudo and T.J Dillashaw, to the top of this card, taking it from an uncomfortable spectacle on paper to the makings of a barn-burner. I mean this fight is not getting 1/100 the attention it deserves. In Cejudo you have a guy that should be getting all the love in the world; someone who has been the best in the world at every stage in the game, from Olympic gold medalist to UFC Champion after dethroning long-time, immovable champion Demetrious Johnson. In T.J Dillashaw you have a true blue nightmare at 135lbs; another excellent wrestler who under the tutelage of Duane Ludwig has rebuilt himself into a shape-shifting, ultra slick, world-class kickboxer that just simply freezes people. This fight is going to be insane. (Side Note: This leave UFC 233 without a headliner. Cormier-Lesn……?)

To round out yesterday’s announcement The UFC shifted a pivotal  women’s flyweight division fight from UFC 233 to the Brooklyn card. This one pits Arianne “Violence Queen” Lipski, who has only met a couple of opponents she couldn’t finish, against fan favorite Joanne Calderwood, who has only met a couple coaches she couldn’t fuck. The winner of this one is probably neck-and-neck with or just below Jessica Andrade for a shot at Cashmeouside for the Women’s Flyweight Championship.

When all is said and done this Brooklyn/ESPN+ card has gone from kind of bizarre to almost a real UFC MMA card. It still, in my opinion, needs a solid fight or two to make it worth tuning into for more than Cejudo-Killashaw, but they are this close. Wild night indeed.

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