Sunday, February 19, 2012

Devil’s Advocate

Viewpoints and opinions are what make talking about sports so fun. Recently, I’ve read/heard discussions about a few topics in the MMA world, and while I agree with some of the views, there are a few counterpoints which can be brought up. It’s time to play Devil’s Advocate.

Blaming the UFC for “lackluster” fights on Fox thus far – OK, let’s start from the first one. Did the UFC screw up by not showing the Bendo/Guida fight? Yes, they absolutely did. Every fan and pundit out there knew this fight would be a barnburner, and it lived up to most of the hype. The UFC knew what kind of fighter Velasquez and dos Santos are, and I bet they knew it could’ve lasted only 64 seconds. Putting the Velasquez/dos Santos title fight on Fox was not a bad decision at all, but not putting at least one more fight on the live broadcast was a huge error. To those that say Henderson vs. Shogun should’ve been the main event on the Fox card because it was one of the best fights of all time, I say that’s quite easy to say in hindsight. Everyone knew it was going to be an important and entertaining bout, but I don’t think anyone knew it would’ve turned out like that. Velasquez/dos Santos could’ve lasted a lot longer and been a back-and-forth battle, but Cigano found the first opening that night and capitalized. That’s part of the allure of the sport; you never truly know what could happen in a given fight.

While I agree with the major complaint from the first Fox effort (not showing Henderson/Guida), I have a tough time agreeing with the major flack the UFC is getting from its second effort. The major complaint was that all of the fights shown were snoozers. Admittedly, the fights didn’t have a lot of fireworks, but there were still interesting storylines that came out of the fights. Chris Weidman made Demian Maia look worse than he did, and Weidman took the fight on 11 days’ notice. If he did that with only 11 days to prepare, imagine what he could’ve done with a full training camp. Bisping vs. Sonnen was an extremely close fight. While it wasn’t “exciting,” it was entertaining to watch the chess match unfold. Rashad stifled a very dangerous Phil Davis and finally earned a match with rival Jon Jones.

However, as I stated earlier, these storylines did not emerge in the most exciting fashion. To blame the UFC for this, however, I feel is a little unwarranted. They put on three solid fights, two of which determined a number one contender spot. Those three fights could have easily been in a co-main event (or maybe even a main event) slot on a pay-per-view card, and we got them for free. Image how upset you’d be if you paid $45 for those three fights. Just like no one knew that Henderson/Rua would be a contender for the greatest fight of all time, no one could predict these fights would be as lackluster as they were. That’s simply what happens in MMA: some fight to entertain, and some fight “not to lose.” The UFC will try to rectify that on their next offering on Fox, which will be headlined by Nate Diaz and Jim Miller. While not the biggest names, lightweight fighters, especially ones like Diaz and Miller, consistently put on more exciting fights. I feel like this is an excellent headlining choice by the UFC, and I’m excited to see how it pans out. Still, to say the lackluster fights on the second Fox card was all the UFC’s fault is a bit much. A matchmaker can’t decide the gameplan and gas tank of a fighter.

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