UFC 246: Why Anthony Pettis vs Carlos Diego Ferreira?
By James Lee
When it was announced a fight between Anthony Pettis and Carlos Diego Ferreira would feature at UFC 246, many overlooked what maybe should have been confusion.
Admittedly, at the time, it was expected to be just one of many exciting fights added to the card. But now, we sit days away from the event and aside from the main event, it is this fight that stands out. But, the matchmaking behind it is odd.
It is odd in the sense that the UFC would tip Pettis against a relatively unknown in Ferreira. Outside of what would be called the avid watchers of the sport, many have not heard of him, never mind watched his prior fights.
When looking at it from the company’s matchmaking sense, it is more confusing. Although there is no structure in how fights are put together, there are usually some clear characteristics. This fight doesn’t seemingly abide by those rules.
Aside from rankings, the main thing is the excitement factor. People gain from fights being exciting. There is a reason many fighters are kept in the UFC, despite not having a record as good as others who have been let go.
In terms of Ferreira, he isn’t wildly exciting. His ground game is some of the best in the sport and his striking is ever improving, but he also isn’t a young prospect who they are trying to get behind.
Yes, he has a good record and is on a five-fight win streak that includes some talented fighters, but it would seem there are many more suitable options at 155 lbs. It cannot be argued his win against Mairbek Taisumov in September last year wasn’t impressive, but for a huge card like this, the fight choice seems odd.
Many high-profile fighters have openly admitted they are available to fight.
One that would have made most sense is Kevin Lee. He has made it clear he is ready to fight again and after his knockout of the year contender against Gregor Gillespie last November, the hype behind him has arguably never been higher.
Another suitable option could have been Islam Makhachev. A fighter who is yet to receive his mainstream break. Pettis would have been that. Even Justin Gaethje might have been interested in the fight to ensure he would fight McGregor next if he wins.
Additionally, it is confusing that Pettis is moving back down to lightweight. He has had varied success at 170 lbs since moving up and his knockout of Stephen Thompson would have kept him relevant in that division for years, especially after his high-profile fight with Nate Diaz. Pettis’ notoriety has since gone up and the continuance at welterweight would have presented many opportunities.
The former lightweight champion was a shining aspect of the last McGregor card and maybe the fight with Ferreira could deliver the same.
On the other hand, I get the fight, to an extent. The UFC exists on the premise that at one moment somebody isn’t recognised and the next thing, they are the name on everybody’s lips. You are nothing until you are something and there is a little in between period in the UFC.
Anthony Pettis is the perfect example to illustrate that. Many would have argued ‘Showtime’ got opportunities he didn’t deserve like the Stephen Thompson and Max Holloway fights considering his winning streak at the time, or lack thereof.
Just as those gave a chance to Pettis, he is doing the same to Ferreira.
It is not like UFC 246 needs any help with the selling aspect of the card. All fans can ask for is an exciting main card opener before one of the most anticipated fights in recent memory and an event to start the UFC calendar off with what fans expect to be one of the biggest years in the sport’s short history.