As a pure athletic matchup, Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Smith is exciting, although UFC Stockholm's competitive bets are almost incomprehensible beyond the point. This is what happens when a champion has already made his way through a few top competitions; They are back to fight for pride and not much else. A winner is unlikely to move someone closer to Jones, who has beaten both in the last six months. They are already in his circles, but can only continue to circulate him from afar.
The undefined prize is problematic in a sport where both athletes and fans will be able to foresee a route against the title or at least understand what forward-looking momentum looks like. Most matches have some element in it. Instead, Gustafsson and Smith have had to make their own efforts. To be blunt, it has not gone too well. Gustafsson lobbed his opens just days after the match was announced, which means that a loss could make him consider retirement.
"If I don't beat him if he strikes me, then maybe I no longer have it," he told MMA Fighting back in March. "So I'm just taking it from there."
Gustafsson is not a garbage collector. He is known to be a respectful athlete. But if you analyze his words, they can be interpreted to be as much of a laydown against Smith as a challenge for themselves. In line with design, the fighters must produce immeasurable, almost impenetrable self-awareness. But the truth is that many are plagued by self-doubt in the same way as the blue-necked people are. Gustafsson's admission suggests that he cannot see a realistic way in which he can lose this fight, and ramps up his efforts in a way that makes his feelings real. He really believes that Smith has nothing to beat him and is not afraid to put his neck on the line. In this scenario, Smith is not his equal, or anything close to it. It does not make it convincing from the outside to look inside.
In a way, you can't blame him because Smith wouldn't even really be here, at least not right at this moment. He accepted the fight only a few days ̵
Not surprisingly, he sounds like he's still looking for answers. In this week's edition of Smith, he said he did not care about what is happening in this fight, that winning or losing was not as important to him as shaking "the s-tty feeling from his stomach "as a result of his recent defeat. That's what it sounds like, just sharing therapy session and struggle.
Again, this is not a compelling selling point for most people.
While the UFC is locked into a lucrative contract with ESPN and is not as susceptible to peaks and valleys of business as it has been in the past, battles need bets. Confidentiality is what forces people to tune in and see, regardless of sport or entertainment.
With Smith vs Gustafsson there is nothing very convincing except the personal meaning behind the fight, which may be enough for a fighting enemy like you or me, but is not even known by most Saturday afternoon channel surfers. It works mostly as a color-for-number main event for the local market.
It is important to note that it is currently banned from the exception and not the rule. The UFC generally tends to make meaningful main events. Even when a championship is not at stake, it tends to put two warriors on the line or a younger giant is looking to make the leap by taking a long-star star out. But it happens more often than usual. In mid-May, we saw Rafael Dos Anjo's fight Kevin Lee, a rallying game put together, even though Lee refused to commit to commit to the 170 pound class. In March we got a matchup pitting Stephen Thompson, who had two losses against then-champion Tyron Woodley against Anthony Pettis when Pettis tried his third division in his last six games. These battles were not meaningless, but neither were they full of the future promise of the winner.
Mostly it is something to watch out for. Each fight is important for the two involved, but the rest of us need a bigger perspective. When it is absent, sometimes, we are too.