While Penn is a major star fighting in a title bout for the vacant lightweight crown, there just doesn’t seem to be that much interest stateside in UFC 80 … the message boards aren’t lighting up like they do with other UFC events and the anticipation just doesn’t appear to be there this time out. Let me know if I’m missing something.
Since I’m not a ‘normal’ fan, I can’t really tell you if the UFC has done it’s job of advertising the fight to the casual viewer; I’d have to call my brother and ask him if UFC 80 ads between the latest James Bond marathon on Spike have done their job. My bet is they probably have – remember that BJ Penn was last seen on the TUF5 finale kicking Jens Pulver’s ass. So just your standard advertising campaign on television has probably done enough to get the average dude to consider picking this up if there’s nothing else happening next weekend.
As for the hardcore fans, I can explain to you why no one is talking about UFC 80: there’s way too fucking much going on. When Ken Pavia said that Joe Silva was booking up the next few months, he wasn’t joking. Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen more signings than we normally see in two months. It’s been apeshit bananas at UFC headquarters, and it’s completely overshadowed Penn/Stevenson in MMA internet circles.
You get a feeling that this is why the WWE goes to epic levels of retardation to try and keep their matchmaking and plans a secret: when you don’t control the release of information outside your company, it can torpedo your ability to build hype the way you normally would. If all these bookings hadn’t come out till after UFC80, then perhaps all the Joe vs BJ threads on forums wouldn’t have been buried so quickly.
Besides, most of the ‘hardcores’ know that Penn vs Stevenson is at best as competitive as Babalu/Liddell. In other words, Penn is a very clear favorite and it’ll be a huge upset if he loses. Werdum vs Gonzaga is a more intruiging bout because people finally get to see if Gonzaga’s win over CroCop really meant he deserves a spot in the top ten. And for Werdum it’s a chance to clear the stink of lameness from his fight with Arlovski. But it’s hard to get excited for any heavyweight match since I can’t remember the last exciting fight in that division. I’ve just been burnt too many times.