There is a growing feeling among UFC fans that the promotion has become increasingly comfortable putting on main events that lack big names. There certainly seems to be something to this when you look back at some of the main events we've seen since the start of last year.
Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic likely had a part to play in this. It was trickier to organize fights and they would often fall through if one of the competitors contracted the virus. However, with the worst of the pandemic seemingly behind us, the main events haven't seen a significant increase in star power.
Here are five recent UFC main events that have lacked star power:
#5. Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus - UFC on ESPN 33
The UFC has always had a love of heavyweight action. It makes sense as these massive athletes produce huge knockouts more than any other division. With that being said, this has led to heavyweight action getting prime real estate in events that maybe the talent level does not always warrant.
To be fair to Curtis Blaydes, he likely deserves the occasional main event match-up. He's a talented heavyweight who has only ever stumbled against the very best in the division. Seeing if he can beat one of those top guys would be main event worthy, seeing him face Chris Daukaus should not have been.
While Daukaus is also skilled, he was on few fans' radar before his first main event fight with Derrick Lewis. After suffering a one-sided loss in that one, a second main event bout against another top established heavyweight in Blaydes made little sense. The fight unsurprisingly saw a one-sided win for Blaydes.
#4. Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson - UFC on ESPN 24
In this one, the UFC had to improvise after losing a mouth-watering main event when T.J. Dillashaw had to pull out of his scheduled bout with Cory Sandhagen. The card then also lost a bout between Julianna Peña and Holly Holm. In the end, Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson were thrown together on short notice.
While Marina Rodriguez has looked great recently, she was just one fight removed from a loss to Carla Esparza at the time and was far from a big name at 115 lbs. Waterson was likely the more well-known of the two but had lost two of her last three. On top of all that, the fight was contested at flyweight.
Two fighters who aren't particularly big draws, not in the best run of form, competing in a division they are unfamiliar with does not scream main event. While the UFC was clearly put in a difficult position here, it's hard to deny the main event they came up with hardly set the MMA world on fire.
#3. Jessica Andrade vs. Amanda Lemos - UFC Fight Night 205
Unlike the previous entry, this fight was bizarrely always scheduled to be the main event. While Jessica Andrade is no stranger to a main event, without a belt on the line or at least a number one contender fight, having her as the main star was odd. This was her return to strawweight after an unsuccessful run at the flyweight gold.
Amanda Lemos may have been on a five-fight winning streak but her only notable win had been a split decision over Angela Hill. Unsurprisingly, this led to many predicting Andrade would likely win in dominant fashion given her significant experience advantage.
That proved to be the case as Andrade submitted Lemos in the first round. The fight did little for Andrade, who still has a ways to go to get back in the strawweight title picture and did even less for Lemos. This match-up only helped the case of those fans who feel the star power of the UFC main events has been slipping.
#2. Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Augusto Sakai - UFC Fight Night 189
The UFC and their love of heavyweight action was on full display in this one. Both Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Augusto Sakai had once been deemed as potential title challengers. However, their title aspirations had been dimmed significantly prior to this fight leaving a main event that was far from electric.
Rozenstruik seemed destined for big things when he knocked out Alistair Overeem to maintain his undefeated record. He then lost to both Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane in the space of three fights, which significantly cooled the hype surrounding him. Sakai had also lost a lot of steam prior to competing in this one.
After a great start to his career in the octagon, Sakai suffered a TKO loss to an aging Alistair Overeem that showcased a number of holes in his game. These losses took all the shine away from this main event that ultimately produced a TKO win for Rozenstruik.
#1. Aspen Ladd vs. Norma Dumont - UFC Fight Night 195
The planned main event for this card was Ketlen Viera vs. Meisha Tate. While that wasn't exactly the highest profile main event, the bout had to be re-scheduled and was replaced by Holly Holm vs. Norma Dumont. When Holly Holm pulled out injured, Aspen Ladd vs. Norma Dumont ended up in the main event spot.
While there were several late cancelations that led to this main event, it's tough to deny it is the least star-studded in recent memory, potentially of all-time. Neither fighter had made much of a name for themselves in their UFC careers and neither have won since competing in this bout.
On top of this, the fight took place in the featherweight division where there are only a handful of fighters and no real names of note outside of Amanda Nunes. This fight had no place being in the main event and you can only hope the UFC will be able to pull together a more enticing headliner if put in this position again.