What determines a main card fighter vs. a preliminary fighter?
Lately, there’s been a lot of debate about who should fight on main cards
When you’re putting an event together with more than a dozen fights, it’s important to decide who goes to the main card and who should fight on the prelims. For the fighters it’s not just about status, it directly affects their bottom line. Take for example Gerald Harris who will be competing at Bellator 202 in July.
Gerald is a veteran of the sport and has been a winner at every level. He sports a very solid record of 25-6 and recently saved the promotion by stepping in at the last moment and taking a fight nearly 20 pounds over his natural weight class. He lost that fight but was doing the promotion a big favor stepping in. How do they repay that favor? They stick him on the preliminaries in his next fight. He is fighting a kid who is 19-0 so it doesn’t make a ton of sense that he’d be on the undercard.
This is a fighter who has twice been on Sportscenter with his amazing slams. When you fight for Bellator you have individual sponsors. It’s not like the UFC with Reebok, his not fighting on TV cripples his bottom line. His sponsors have pulled out of this fight as they won’t be getting television exposure. Adding insult to financial injury, the fight is in his home state. He would bring in a ton of fans to the live arena and as such, deserves to be on the main card. The real question is why is he not on the main card? They’ve only announced two fights on the main card but they’ve already designated Harris as an undercard fight. Doesn’t make any sense.
The UFC has a separate set of issues with their division of main card and preliminary card fighters. The UFC recently placed Joe Benavidez and Sergio Pettis on the Fight Pass prelims of UFC 225. It was two fighters in the top five of the division. Conversely, they put CM Punk and Mike Jackson on the main PPV despite neither of them ever having won a fight. The fight was predictably horrendous.
So was CM Punk put on the main card because he sells PPVs? Of course. They could also have used him to get eyes on the Fight Pass product without putting veterans and former champions Joe Benavidez and Rashad Evans down there. The whole thing is just silly. After the event, Dana admitted he wished he had put CM Punk and Mike Jackson on the prelims. Realistically the fight belonged on the undercard of an LFA event.
The issue will continue to persist I believe and along with judging, and weight cutting it will be one of those things that we just don’t fix.