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TJ Grant vs. Benson Henderson Sums Up the UFC’s Most Frustrating Problem: Their Inability to Create New Stars

(TJ Grant, doing his impression of a UFC fan who’s just been told that TJ Grant will be headlining a pay-per-view. Photo via MMAJunkie) By Matt Saccaro Most casual fans couldn‘t pick Benson Henderson ”” a world title holder ”” or TJ Grant ”” a man challenging for a world title ”” out of a lineup. That‘s not either guy‘s fault. Benson Henderson managed to get the nod from the judges in his last three title defenses, scoring victories over the likes of Gilbert Melendez and Nate Diaz. And TJ Grant has put together a five-fight winning streak, most recently sending Gray Maynard down faster than Zynga‘s stock price. But that‘s the problem: A fight between two guys who have done nothing but kick ass isn‘t moving the needle. It‘s not that the populace has run out of fucks to give about Henderson and Grant, they just never gave any in the first place. Want proof? Look at the estimated buyrates for Henderson‘s PPVs. Henderson hasn‘t been on a PPV since UFC 150 in August 2012, a card that earned a pathetic 190,000 buys. People don‘t want to part with their cash to see Benson Henderson, so the UFC started giving him away for free on FOX. Bendo main evented two FOX cards which performed okay ratings-wise. The UFC is putting Henderson back on PPV at UFC 164 for his title defense against TJ Grant. This PPV is a Battle of the Blackwater moment for the UFC. If UFC 164 can boast a decent buyrate, then the theory that the UFC can use FOX to create the next generation of stars will be proven true, and the UFC‘s future will be a little more secure. But if UFC 164 fails as hard as UFC 150 did ”” if promoting a fighter TWO TIMES on one of the biggest networks on television failed to make that fighter a draw ”” then the UFC is in trouble. That would mean one champion who would be dead weight on a card, in addition to the champions from the lighter men’s weight classes who have all yet to establish themselves as major PPV draws.

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