Seeing the criticism directed at UFC 246 prompted me to start a new series where I, the always correct and infallible Johann Castro, analyze pay-per-view cards and give a respectively deserved grade. Each fight will be graded individually and the grades will average out for my final diagnosis at the conclusion of the article. Think of it as a report card, only unlike the ones you got back in grade school, these won’t aggressively stare back at you while you tremble in nervousness as you prepare for the worst when you hand it to mom or dad to sign. The worst that might come from this is that you might think, “Wow, this Johann guy really is a grade-A a-hole…” Anyways, children, time to hand out some grades.
Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on Jan 15, 2020 at 9:44pm PST
The main event for UFC 246 may not make much sense from a rankings standpoint, or from a standpoint of thinking “why do these guys deserve a title shot again,” but make no mistake, this should be a hell of a fight. Stylistically pleasing from a striking perspective, both men are finishers to the highest degree, and perhaps for the first time in the lead up to a Conor McGregor fight, this fight will actually be about the fight itself, instead of how much the pre-fight buildup plays a role, or whether or not McGregor’s trash talk will make his opponent fight a certain way, or whatever the typical b.s. that proceeds a McGregor fight usually entails. McGregor has taken a much more, for lack of a better term, friendly approach toward Cerrone, which I’m a massive fan of, showing the respectful “martial arts” side of MMA as opposed to the trash talk-heavy “prize fighting” side. Now, myself being a purest, I’m still of the idea that a massive UFC pay-per-view should be spearheaded by a title fight, undisputed or interim. It just gives the event an entire extra level of importance. That being said, this is probably the best, and one of the only, non-title headliners the UFC could actually pull off in successful fashion. Assuming all goes well, this should be a fantastic battle that will undoubtedly build intrigue for months to come.
Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
A post shared by Raquel Pennington (@raquel_pennington) on Jan 3, 2020 at 11:13am PST
The last time Conor McGregor headlined a pay-per-view, at UFC 229, Tony Ferguson fought Anthony Pettis in the co-main event, a fight that turned out winning 2018 Fight of the Year honors and elevated the stock of both men to exponential levels. Ferguson has grown into a mainstream superstar, arguably one of the five biggest stars currently, and Pettis, despite losing, was able to recapture the magic he had when he was lightweight champion, and his stock grew to the point of him earning a bout with Nate Diaz just two fights later. Fast forward to UFC 246 and the co-headliner is Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington, a fight, a rematch no less, that I suppose makes sense from a rankings perspective at women’s bantamweight, but really nowhere else. Holly Holm is somewhat of a mainstream star, but I don’t know if that really means anything in this instance. This fight is just meh all around, a ranked fight with no real hype or excitement backing it. It’s the epitome of okay.
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Maurice Greene
A post shared by Alexey Oleynik (@alexeyoleynik1) on Jan 15, 2020 at 6:50pm PST
We go from an average fight that at least makes sense from a rankings perspective to a fight that really shouldn’t be anywhere near a pay-per-view main card. Seriously, this fight made the main card over Fili vs. Yusuff, Dober vs. Haqparast, Eliott vs. Askraov, I could go on? What’s even crazier is that Oleinik, the far more experienced and technically superior fighter, is the underdog. I don’t typically give betting advice on my columns, but I would be shocked if Greene wins this fight. This one is a great ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass prelim and a decent ESPN prelim, but honestly, why is this on the main card?
Claudia Gadelha vs. Alexa Grasso*
“Lo que hoy parece un sacrificio, será el mayor logro de tu vida” 🔥🇲🇽 #LoboMMA #TeamGrasso #dearhardwork #staymotivated #staystrong #stayfocus #letsdothis ❤️ “What seems like a sacrifice today, will be the greatest achievement of your life” 🔥🇲🇽
A post shared by Alexa Grasso (@alexa_grasso) on Jan 6, 2020 at 10:58pm PST
Ahh, now this one I like a lot, and not just because I love the strawweights and it’s my third or fourth favorite division in the sport right now. This one is compelling, makes sense from a rankings perspective, and could potentially lead to some star building if one puts on enough of a convincing performance on a main card headlined by the sport’s biggest star. It’s also, for my money, the most competitive fight on the card. It’s very a much a fight that favors Gadelha early on but can, and likely will, easily sway toward Grasso if it treks into the final seven and a half minutes, from a form perspective, both are in win-loss-win-loss patterns, and if that holds, Grasso, who lost her last fight, will pull this one out against Gadelha, who won her last. But hey, that’s merely speculation, this one truly can go either way. Something tells me this will be in solid contention for Fight of the Night.
Anthony Pettis vs. Diego Ferreira
A post shared by Diego Ferreira (@diegoufctx) on Oct 17, 2019 at 2:01pm PDT
Opening the main card is a fight that could very easily headline or co-headline its own Fight Night event. Pettis vs. Ferreira is an intriguing fight from a rankings perspective, momentum of both fighters coming in, as well as the classic “contender vs. up-and-comer” matchup. Pettis returns to lightweight where his last bout at the weight saw him compete in the 2018 Fight of the Year against Tony Ferguson, as mentioned above. After a 1-1 2019 at welterweight, Pettis returns to take on the unranked Ferreira, who’s won five in a row against some solid competition in guys like Mairbek Taisumov and Rustam Khabilov- both of whom were on solid win streaks at the time. This was originally slated as the co-main event, but after backlash from fans, the UFC decided to shift it to open the main card. Looking back, I’m sure fans probably wish this would’ve stayed as such. No disrespect to Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington, but this is a far more compelling fight.
So, let’s average this out, shall we. We have A, C, D, B+, and B. Going on a quality points scale (yes, just like the report cards you got in school), we come out with a 2.7, or a B- to C+ average for the pay-per-view main card of UFC 246. It’s very easy to see the grading was undoubtedly hindered by the presence of Oleinik vs. Greene and the fact it’s co-main evented by Holm vs. Pennington. But still, even in that jest, I hope that this shows all the people who call this card one of the weakest the UFC has ever put on that they are sorely mistaken. Between the main event, as well as the two opening bouts of the card, UFC 246 should provide some real entertainment on Saturday night. And that’s not even including the preliminary card, which may be even more stacked than the main card. Believe me, this card is far from the worst. It’s actually relatively above average. And for all those out there still calling this one of the worst, I raise one question. Remember UFC 234? Exactly. Count your blessings. This one is fine.▪︎
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