UFC 212 exceeded expectations with 12 total fights and 9 stoppages. Of the decisions, 2 were very close contests in Vitor Belfort using his “Dad Bod” to beat Nate Marquardt and Raphael Assuncao edging dangerous UFC newcomer Marlon Moraes. The latter mentioned Assuncao is now 9-1 in his last 10 fights with his only loss coming to arguably the best fighter under 145 pounds on the planet in TJ Dillashaw. Additionally, during this impressive run he holds a victory over Dillashaw. Until Moraes ran into Assuncao he was riding a 13 fight win streak outside of the UFC, the majority coming in the World Series of Fighting, now known as The Professional Fighters League. The UFC snagged the most decorated fighter under the revamped PFL name, so it begs the question, why on earth would they give him a killer in Raphael Assuncao for his debut fight?
The answer is simple, it was a win-win for UFC President Dana White and new owners WME-IMG. If Moraes, a -230 (courtesy of Bovada) favorite at fight time, defeated Assuncao the UFC looks brilliant. Again they managed to take top talent from competitors while in their prime and further reinforce the fact they are the premier MMA organization on the planet. Unfortunately, like everything they do, there is a reason the UFC did not ease Moraes into the organization. A Moraes loss was a better outcome for the greater good of the UFC. Through Bellator signings of washed up talent (Wandy, Sonnen), disgruntled gatekeepers (Kongo, Bader, Larkin), and unentertaining cards (everything since they stopped doing tourneys), they have cemented the fact they will never contend with the UFC.
Enter to the MMA world Ray Sefo and the PFL. Do they have UFC talent? Not even close. What they do have is a concept with potential. A regular season and playoffs, like every other mainstream sport. On top of this, the champion gets a lucrative $1 million dollar pay day (fighter reimbursement seems to be a big issue lately). The PFL, took the IFL’s concept that aligned with the likes of the NFL, NHL, NBA, and NHL, but tailored it to a sport focused on the individual. Will it work? Who knows, but it surely has caught the eye of the UFC executives. At the current time, with the PFL launching their inaugural event at Daytona International Speedway the same weekend as NASCAR’s second biggest yearly event, the UFC had to make a statement. They did just that in a Moraes loss. The top PFL fighter by far came to the UFC and lost to the #3 ranked contender. The UFC illustrated to the MMA world that no matter how successful you are in another organization it does not matter unless you do it in the big show. They made a minor move to majorly discredit the PFL’s charge for a market share. The smartest man whether you like him or not, Dana White, did it again and did it flawlessly. There is no doubt Moraes will be a force in the UFC and maybe a champion. Unfortunately at UFC 212 he was just a pawn in Dana White’s genius game plan.