Friday night, in what has reverted back to a rather pre-casino boom in the ’90’s sleepy Tunica, Mississippi, many of the best fighters from Legacy and RFA will meet head-to-head, toe-to-toe. In a place where gambling is still a go-to for the economy, it might appear to be a gamble for both of these organizations to put on such a show. After all what if there is a definitive sweep, or a dominating showing from either camp? Does that the diminish the importance of the other? Not likely on the first and for certain No on the second.
It is a bold and commendable move on the part of Mick Maynard of Legacy and Ed Soares of RFA to engage in this competition, the likes of which has never before seen in MMA on the level that each organization has established itself as at the very least a solid AAA league to the UFC’s majors. Both have sent fighters on to the UFC and will continue to do so regardless of the outcome that plays out Friday night live on AXS TV. That each man and every fighter associated with Legacy and RFA are eager and willing is a testament to where they have come from and the level they have arrived at now. There doesn’t appear to be a downside. After the lights go out and the locker rooms are cleared, there will still be two viable fight promotions led by men with keen eyes for finding and developing talent. To embark on this first is a win-win for them and the sport.
The fans are already winners, getting to watch the debates about who has the stronger stable actually fight it out to eliminate the hypothetical scenarios. The UFC wins in the deal as well. If they are on the fence about a couple of fighters, the match ups essentially become playoffs to determine who, if any, still warrant attention. Think of it as another version of The Ultimate Fighter.
The fighters win also. Most are not household names in households that are fans of the sport, but not devotees. They will have a chance to get to know the fighters better and decide for themselves who is worthy of another look the next time they enter the cage. AXS TV wins by getting the groups to do this. It could lead to more pairings of organizations in the future, more opportunities for a bigger showcase of fighter and promotion that will again attract the casual fan. Bellator and World Series of Fighting also register wins by getting to see potential talent down the road, or in the near future to bulk up their rosters after the UFC makes decisions.
There will be losers on Friday night either by KO, submission, or judges’ decision. There has to be after all, they are fights. But in the biggest of pictures, in a town where people still come to take a chance, it is a win-win all the way around.
You remember those Super Bowls, though not as many lately except for the Seahawks throttling of the Broncos, where the hype was tarnished by the third quarter but you stayed watched anyway? That was the much ballyhooed Mayweather-Pacquaio showdown, five years in the making; 30 minutes delayed with pay-per-view overload buys; and enough celebrities in attendance to make Access Hollywood drool for a year.
It’s that Rocky syndrome, the unrealistic expectation that there would be scintillating rounds of pounding. Instead it was what Mayweather does to be unbeaten, take the opponent out of the game with teasing defense that is about as good as anyone ever has seen in the ring. You can’t hit what you can’t catch. Mayweather is not a KO king, not offensively dominating, but a master of making the other guy miss as Pacquaio uncharacteristically did throughout the fight that was still up for grabs with five rounds to go. But Mayweather kept the gap in his favor again with defense. It isn’t the most exciting thing for fans, but it is impressive to watch a tactician of the expert level.
Was Pacquaio’s shoulder injured as was learned after the fight enough to effect him in the ring? That is the only debate afterward, not the unanimous decision. There is anger among many that Manny didn’t let everyone know in advance. Mayweather reportedly is even willing to wait another year so Pacquaio can have surgery and be ready for a rematch.
The only question really is Why? Two of the top fighters, both a few years past their best, finally met. There was no controversy during the fight and no “so close” it’s still to hard to declare a winner after it all over. Maybe there are another million who so want to see someone, especially someone as charming and talented as Manny, beat Mayweather that they might shell out $99 again to buy it. Maybe the fighters would settle for only making $100 million the next time. It’s doubtful Mayweather will want to hang around if he does as he says fight again in September and tie the great Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 mark. He won and did it his way.
Floyd-Manny II? Maybe on a video game.
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