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Ariel Helwani Explains Why UFC 202 Seems To Have Less Buzz Around It Than UFC 196

Ariel Helwani Explains Why UFC 202 Seems To Have Less Buzz Around It Than UFC 196
By Mikey Traynor

The waiting is almost over as Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz put the finishing touches on their preparation for UFC 202.

We've seen the first episode of UFC 202 Embedded released today, which is as good an indicator as any that the highly anticipated rematch of UFC 196's main event is just around the corner, but is there as much buzz surrounding this event than there has been for Conor McGregor fights in the past?

MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani joined Mikey Traynor and John Balfe on the first episode of the Balls.ie MMA Podcast where aside from recalling his first interactions with Conor McGregor and expressing his love for the Artem Lobov Vs Chris Avila matchup, Ariel told us why he is "100%" sure that UFC 202 will out-perform the massively hyped UFC 200.

Pay-per-view wise, 100%, I would be shocked if it doesn't [outsell UFC 200].

[McGregor] is becoming a much bigger star, he is in many respects right now the face of the UFC. I think a lot of people know who Ronda Rousey is, but we're approaching a year since she has been gone.

Conor, when he speaks and has an impact and does media, and does anything, to me that typically translates into PPV dollars. His gates are higher, his PPV sales are higher, so I do think unequivocally he is the biggest draw, money-maker, in the UFC.

Helwani then touched on why there doesn't seem to be as much buzz in the build-up to UFC 202 in comparison to UFC 196, and the first fight between the two men.

While there is certainly excitement, there isn't the major interest that we saw before the first fight and The MMA Hour host believes that is largely due to the two fighters spending less time in front of each other.

Something that I've thought about recently is; 10 days before UFC 196 we had that now infamous press conference where they're sitting there, it was sort of thrown together very quickly, there are security guards standing behind them, there's talk about making balloon animals with one hand and gang signs with the other, it was very tense.

250,000 people were watching it live, several million afterwards, and they couldn't have scripted the whole thing better and then we get to Vegas, that press conference, he hits him, the whole thing exploded.

I'm not feeling that just yet and it's hard to recreate that, especially since they haven't been in front of each other for a while. They were in front of each other at UFC 200, but that press conference was marred by all kinds of audio problems, I mean in attendance we couldn't really hear what they were saying and the fighters couldn't hear so they couldn't play off of each other. I'm hoping they'll rectify that [ahead of UFC 202].

So right now if I'm comparing it to UFC 196, I don't feel that kind of excitement. I think it's unfair to compare because that was a unique thing that came together last minute, but I do suspect that it will start to pick up again.

I'm hoping. I was in Atlanta for UFC 201 and there was very little buzz for that and I was sort of longing for the Irish being in Vegas and getting to feel that again because I feel like it up's everyone's game. It just makes us very privileged to be there.

Very kind words from Helwani on the Irish fans there, but it is clear that UFC 202 is very different to 196. Much of that is Conor's more subdued, or respectful as it were, approach to his opponent, but it is also clear that both men are taking their preparation very seriously this time around.

There's less time to build hype and exchange verbal jabs when both men are getting themselves in the best shape they possibly can for the fight.

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We'll see how the press conference on Wednesday turns out, but really it is all about Saturday night and the main event which has the eyes of the MMA world upon it.

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