Being a Nashville native I was pretty excited when I heard the UFC was coming to town when UFC Fight Night 108 was announced earlier this year. Then I looked at the card and wondered why they even bothered putting it together. It looks like the UFC had to fill a date on FS1 and owed a bunch of unranked fighters fights and threw whoever they could onto the card.
Cub Swanson is a good fighter who has been around a long time but having him matched up against a guy who was on The Ultimate Fighter with barely a .500 record is mind-boggling as the main event. Swanson is a -500 favorite meaning that Las Vegas thinks he will run through Artem Lobov with no problem. There were rumblings that the UFC was going to put Demian Maia vs Jorge Masvidal on the show as the main event but the fight got pushed back to May and won’t be happening in Nashville.
The co-main event of UFC Night 108 is Al Iaquinta vs Diego Sanchez. I’ll admit, this fight in intriguing. But with Iaquinta having been on the sidelines for two years he’s lost a lot of drawing power. Before walking away he had four straight and was on the verge of being a title contender. Now he’s starting over and needs a win or two to get back to where he was before his sabbatical. His opponent, Diego Sanchez is a legend but he’s on the downside of his career. Sanchez has alternated wins and losses for the past three years and is relying on name recognition with older fans to justify his spot at the top of this bad card.
Ovince Saint Preux has lost three straight fights but is fairly popular in the region due to his time at the University of Tennessee. Had the show been in Vermont or California no one would really care whether or not he was on the show. OSP’s opponent, Marcos Rogerio de Lima has alternated wins and losses since 2014 and is hoping to keep his job with a win. With a loss either fight could be cut from the promotion since the new owners of the UFC are looking to trim the roster.
John Dodson is a former TUF winner but was dominant at 125 pounds. However, two losses to Demetrious Johnson sent him to bantamweight where he is trying to find new life in a new weight class. His opponent Eddie Wineland, is a gatekeeper in the division and no one really expects him to win according to the odds in Vegas.
Joe Lauzon is always exciting to watch but like most on the card he’s alternated wins and losses since 2014. Lauzon always puts on a great performance and is a fan favorite but he’s not going to be in the top five of the division. His opponent Stevie Ray would be a big draw if the fight took place in the UK but in Nashville no one really knows or cares about him.
The only reason to go watch the show is to see local guys like St. Preux. Dustin Ortiz is a native of middle Tennessee but he’s 1-2 in his last three fights and could be cut with a loss. Scott Holtzman is from Knoxville and is also 1-2 in his last three. All three local guys need wins to keep their spot on the UFC roster.
Of the 26 fighters on the card only six are ranked in the top ten of the UFC’s official rankings and none of them are fighting. Cub Swanson is the only fighter ranked in the top five and even if he wins he won’t be fighting for the belt 1t 145 because he’s stuck behind perennial contender Frankie Edgar in the rankings.
Two fights featuring fighters in the top ten, John Dodson vs Eddie Wineland and Dustin Ortiz vs Brandon Moreno are at flyweight and bantamweight, two weight classes that casual fans aren’t familiar with.
With recent troubles with the commission nearly getting nixed by lawmakers Tennessee is happy to get a UFC event. But if it doesn’t draw very well because casual fans don’t know or care about who is on the card ultimately that is the UFC’s fault.