If you have been watching the latest iteration of the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter, and you are like me, then you are thrilled by the format change. This season, the UFC has collected all of the flyweight champs from some of the best regional promotions in the world and put them on the show. A tournament-style format decides the winner of TUF as well as who gets the next shot at UFC Flyweight champ, Demetrius Johnson.
I see this sort of TUF format as a huge opportunity for regional promotions like National Fighting Championship (out of Atlanta) to get their name out there from a national perspective and to legitimize the fighters that are coming out of that local promotion. If the UFC continues doing these “champ” tournaments as part of TUF, regional shows need to ensure they have a good selection of champs across a variety of different weight-classes and have exciting, well-crafted fight cards to likely be considered for that TUF exposure. And of course they need to have a good following by the local fans. Unfortunately, based on my recent experience at NFC 87, I’m not sure they are ready for primetime from a couple different angles.
The good news is that the NFC has a pretty good fan following. They’ve sold out the last several shows at a high quality venue (Center Stage Atlanta). Although my hunch is that quite a bit of attendees are directly supporting their training partner, friend, or family member in the cage. There were almost forty fighters on the card for the event! The jury is still out as to how many casual fans are making the show.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a big fan of NFC. Just look at the accomplishments the NFC lists in their 14 years as a promotion. But, unlike NFC 86 that had an action-packed trimmed-down fight card, that included a title fight between two highly ranked MMA athletes, NFC 87 was filled with decisions, a lot of bad judging, and WAY too many fights. I heard several in attendance voicing their displeasure about the length of the event, the lack of pro MMA bouts, and the lack of a headline title bout.
Again, don’t get me wrong, I love what the NFC is doing overall. There was nothing the NFC could do about the bad judging. The company has some of the best production value I’ve seen at a regional show. They have proven yet again last Saturday that they have one of the best venues in the business, great music between fights, interesting walkout song selection, and a high quality announcer. They’ve got production value locked down. If you go to an NFC show, you’ll get a glimpse of what it would be like to see a UFC event. But with all that being said, there are a few things I wish they would change from a fan’s perspective:
- MMA: Stick more towards mixed martial arts. Fans want to see MMA and not muay thai or kickboxing. Of the 18 fights, 13 were MMA, whereas 5 were muay thai, including the main event. Of the 13 MMA bouts, only 5 were at the professional level. 12 of 18 fights were amateur bouts.
- Titles: Always have a pro title on the line. NFC 86 had a huge welterweight title on the line. No titles were up for grabs at NFC 87. Title holders help to grow the notoriety of the promotion, and of the title holder as the fighter makes their way to the “big show.” And of course, it makes for a more exciting fight, when title stakes are on the line.
- Matchmaking: This one is the hardest one to control because you never know what you are going to get when you are matchmaking, but the NFC should focus on the best matchups possible. NFC 87 resulted in 10 decisions out of 18 fights. Of those 10 decisions, 4 were split decisions. There were only 6 finishes at the event (2 fights ended via a fighter throwing in the towel). I won’t event get into the bad judging, which of course is not on the NFC.
- Fight Card: Please trim down the fight card. There were 18 fights on the card and the last bout ended at 1am. Sometimes more is not always better. There was actually 19 bouts scheduled, but one was scratched.
NFC has been doing this for a lot of years, so I’m sure they have a master plan, but as a fan outside looking in, I see room for improvement for the NFC to get attention from the likes of the UFC and others.
My hope is that we see the NFC focus more on MMA, put belts on the line, focus on as many pro fights as they can, and trim down the card. If they do that, they may get the attention of the UFC, but they will SURELY get the attention of the fans. Hopefully David Oblas (NFC founder) and crew are listening.
Luckily for me and for the rest of the hungry Atlanta-area MMA community, the next NFC show is just around the corner. The event, NFC 88, will again take place at Center Stage Atlanta on November 11. Get your tickets here.
Here’s a recap of the results for last Saturday’s event (NFC 87).
Main Event: Warren Thompson vs Devorius Tubbs (Muay Thai Bout): Thompson wins via UD.
- Lawson McClure vs Rusty Crowder: McClure wins via split decision. Judges straight-up suck. Another bad decision.
- Nathan Williams vs Nick Sprayberry: Williams wins via UD.
- Zac Cooper vs Chris Walker: Cooper wins via first round RNC.
- Alen Mulametovic vs Chris Ortiz: Mulametovic wins via first round TKO.
- Doug Usher vs Ben Brewer: Usher wins via first round TKO.
Pro Muay Thai
- LJ Jones vs Terrance Hodges: Hodges’ corner throws in the towel. Jones gets the win.
Advanced Amateur MMA
- NFC Middleweight Championship: Emmanuel Osho vs DJ Wilson: Osho retains belt via UD.
- NFC GA Welterweight Championship – Robert Hale vs Tresean Gore: Gore takes the title via split decision.
- NFC GA Light Heavyweight Championship – Darian Perry vs Ose Abunaw: Abunaw via liver kick KO
- Chris Pullie vs Antwuan Mosley: No winner. A majority draw. Pullie was robbed
- Ivey Mewborn vs Brianna Smith: Smith throws in the towel in the s cond round. Mewborn gets the win.
- Jesus Diaz vs Chris Arnold: Arnold via unanimous decision.
- Diego Bautista vs Menelik Milner: Bautista wins via unanimous decision.
- Michael Fortner vs Ankur Mathew: Scratched.
- Brandon Garner vs Zane Wolf: Wolf wins via second round RNC.
Amateur Muay Thai
- Nick Geoffrion vs Lewis Heald: Geoffrion wins via split decision. These judges are joke. Geoffrion won, but not a split.
- Aldo Betancourt vs Htoo Lay: Lay wins via KO at 1:15 of RD 1.
- NFC Title Fight: Jahmar Whitehead vs Chase Boutwell: Boutwell wins via UD.