The UFC will venture into China for the very first time on Saturday night with a card that’s lacking in star power. UFC Macao will be headlined by a middleweight fight between former champion Rich Franklin and former Strikeforce champion Cung Le.
The co-main event will feature a light heavyweight bout between Thiago Silva and Stanislav Nedkov. The event will air LIVE on FUEL TV at 9 a.m. ET. Let’s talk about the storylines heading into this event on Saturday morning.
What type of ratings will this event pull on FUEL TV?
The highest number of viewers ever for a UFC event airing on FUEL TV is 328,000. It’ll be interesting to see what rating this event that is airing in the early morning on Saturday will generate. I have to imagine there will be a lot of DVR’s in action on this one. I wonder if the show will break 150,000 viewers? FUEL TV has given UFC programming the majority of the credit for all of records they have broken in regards to increased viewership of the network. This show would be a true indicator of just how much impact UFC programming has on FUEL TV subscribers.
Is this the last we see of Rich Franklin and Cung Le?
Both Rich Franklin and Cung Le are virtually dinosaurs if we are talking MMA years. The odds of either fighter becoming UFC middleweight champion are virtually zero. Franklin is turned 38 years old in October and has 35 fights under his belt. Le will be 41 years old in May and has way more wear and tear on his body because of his kickboxing background coupled with the 10 MMA fights he had under his belt. I could be wrong, but one would think that Franklin doesn’t have to fight anymore if he doesn’t want to do so. Le has many avenues to make money because of his experience in making movies. We very much could see both fighters taking the Matt Hughes approach to retiring in that they fight this fight and then ride off into the sunset because no other fights out there make sense for them.
Will Thiago Silva become a stepping stone for another light heavyweight in Stanislav Nedkov?
Thiago Silva last fought in April, losing a unanimous decision against up and comer Alexander Gustafsson. Gustafsson is now fighting former UFC champion Mauricio Rua in his next matchup and could potentially get a title shot with an impressive showing. Silva is now in a familiar predicament coming into this fight with Nedkov. Stanislav Nedkov is an undefeated light heavyweight that won his UFC debut by knocking out Luiz Cane at UFC 134. He isn’t close to a title shot, but a win over a proven veteran like Silva would certainly grab the attention of hardcore fans and UFC brass alike.
The rest of the UFC card is made up of guys making their UFC debut, or fighters that are fighting for the roster spots in the UFC. It’ll be interesting to see how the Chinese fans in attendance will react since this is the first UFC event they’ll witness in person. I also wonder how many will be in attendance. Cotai Arena has a capacity of about 15,000, but I’m sure things will be scaled down for a smaller crowd.
Be sure to join us each day this week (starting on Tuesday) as we preview the main card fights from the UFC Macao event!