Mayweather-McGregor takes its toll on UFC fans in August

Conor McGregor, right, Floyd Mayweather Jr. pause for photos during a news conference at Staples Center Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in Los Angeles. The two will fight in a boxing match in Las Vegas on Aug. 26. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The UFC has rarely ever been a company to shy away from exposure, even if, at times, it meant shoving the Octagon down its fans’ throats with event after event.

That hasn’t changed much in 2017, despite a change in ownership. The figureheads at WME-IMG have maintained the structure of the UFC’s traditional schedule of hosting, at the very minimum, two events a month. In fact, prior to the start of August, only two months out of the first seven this year featured anything fewer than three. June was the first to introduce a four-event month this year, quickly surpassed by a five-event schedule in July.

Even without its biggest stars taking the stage thus far, it’s been a fairly busy year for the show runners at UFC HQ.

That’s about to change, if only for a brief period of time.

The eighth month of 2017 will feature just one event hosted inside the Octagon, having come in the form of UFC Fight Night 114 in Mexico City. The culmination of that event, resulting in a dominant display of well-rounded mixed martial arts from flyweight contender Sergio Pettis, marked the beginning of a four-week dead period.

It’s the first time the world’s leading MMA promotion has held just one event in a month since March 2012, when UFC-exclusive fight fans were forced to wait a good five weeks before the Octagon returned to their television sets.

Having held its only August event on the fifth day of the month, the UFC doesn’t return until Sept. 2 for a relatively quiet night in the Netherlands. There is virtually no anticipation for anything promoted by the company until Sept. 9, and even then, that event only pales in comparison to the boxing superfight taking place Aug. 26 — the very reason the slate has been cleared in the first place.

Yes, this was all by design.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor — arguably the two biggest stars combat sports has ever seen — are set to meet face to face inside the squared circle at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas before the month of August comes to a close. There’s virtually nothing coming before it that will in any way distract fight fans from relinquishing their attention on this fight, and little happening after (until Sept. 16) that will prevent audiences from anticipating much else as it takes place.

After more than a year of rumored hype between the Mayweather and McGregor parties, a third joined the fray earlier this year — easily the most important one, all things considered. Once the UFC was made aware of what sort of monetary gains were sitting waiting for them by agreeing to let its golden boy make his professional boxing debut, it was only a matter of time before all sides agreed on a fair method of splitting up the revenue.

And while this is technically considered a Showtime-hosted event, with a majority of the promotional items lacking any sort of visible tip of the cap to the UFC, Dana White and Co. are still doing their part in ensuring arguably the biggest fight in the history of combat sports becomes, well, the biggest fight in the history of combat sports.

That may not sit well with the diehards of MMA, many of whom have little interest in seeing the talented mixed martial artist get outclassed inside the boxing arena by the greatest defensive pugilist who’s ever lived. There are some who aren’t planning on buying the event, even if it does guarantee the opportunity to see a polarizing fighter (pick one) suffer defeat. Those may be the very same fans who’ve taken exception to the notion that they, as fans of the UFC, will have little more than “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series” to satisfy their quench for Octagon violence.

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