As he usually does, Good Ol' JR blogged about UFC 118 this past weekend. A few of his thoughts were interesting enough to talk about so here we are with some excerpts.
Overall I would give the PPV an average grade. While most of the fights looked good on paper, the execution of some of the bouts was lacking.
Hometown boy Joe Lauzon had one of the best performances of the night in his one round destruction on free TV, Spike, which one could surmise helped garner a few PPV buys as Lauzon turned it on for his fellow locals and that emotion carried over right into my living room. If a fan was sitting on the PPV fence, seeing an exciting pre-PPV fight for free is a great marketing tool. UFC should always book one, great overachieving bout on Spike when Spike airs the prelims for free.
Agreed on the PPV as a whole being average. That Diaz-Davis fight was epic but nothing else was overly special. Then in the second paragraph his pro wrestling background really comes out. There is no question that Lauzon put on the best performance of the night with what he did to Gabe Reudigar. The fact that it happened on Spike during the airing of the prelims was a bonus for the UFC. Ross seems to think the UFC should make sure to book a fight like this for each prelim that appears on Spike. The problem with that? The UFC doesn't control the action or the outcome of the fights. Not to mention the fact that they always load up the Spike fights with former cast members of The Ultimate Fighter.
On Friday I blogged that Randy Couture would finish James Toney in one round or less and that's what happened. I'm no MMA savant but it was easy to see that Toney was going to be in way over his head inside the Octagon and that once the former boxing great was taken down the meter would begin running.
Many boxing fans took exception to my comments regarding that a skilled boxer would likely never defeat a skilled MMA fighter in a MMA bout simply because most boxers have no ground skills. It's no knock on the 'sweet science' but simply a statement of fact. Muhammad Ali told me the same thing years ago and I would consider him somewhat of an expert on all things boxing.
Couture vs. Toney was an attraction bout. In the world of pro wrestling, it would have been akin to the attraction bouts from back in the day when Andre the Giant performed against multiple opponents simultaneously and the question wasn't IF Andre was winning but how long it would take for the Giant to be declared victorious.
Jim Rome on his Twitter mentioned the same thing about Ali. That even an Ali in his prime couldn't beat a 47 year old Randy Couture on Saturday night. It's interesting to hear Ross say that Ali personally told him this. Bix did a post about Ali fighting Antonio Inoki before UFC 118 on Saturday. It wasn't the same in that the rules were different but the result was what you would expect. Ross is exactly right in calling the Toney-Couture fight an attraction bout. I like the analogy he uses with Andre the Giant. This was a squash match through and through. No doubt about the outcome, just pay to see it happen.
I perceive that Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan are stars ala like back in the NFL days of Summerall and Madden and that their load should be lessened when it comes to reading the seemingly endless volume of copy that comes across their announce table. It would be very easy for UFC to retain the services of a 'big voice guy or gal' who does commercial reads for a living to read many of the promotional considerations, sponsor billboards, etc with which Goldberg gets saddled. Considering UFC essentially features only two, primary voices on a PPV, deviating from Goldberg and Rogan from time to time keeps them more special. After hearing Joe and Mike for the Spike show and then a three hour pay per view it's like how much BBQ can Ol J.R. consume?
JR has talked about this before and I agreed with him then just as I'm doing now. Goldberg has a voice that just seems to grate on the nerves. I'm a huge fan of Joe Rogan and hope he keeps his job for a long time to come but Goldie is really hard to listen to for 3 hours. That said, what the UFC has been doing for years now has worked perfectly fine just the way it is. Everything can be improved with a few tweaks but it's always dangerous to mess with a product that's sold so well for so long.
Some more thoughts from Ross and my take on them in the extended entry.
Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar certainly validated his 'dance card' Saturday night with his second consecutive victory over the much ballyhooed BJ Penn. First of all, Edgar is really good. Really good. The Jersey native is five rounds of perpetual motion with a solid wrestling skill set, mental and physical toughness, and youth on his side. Edgar won decisively and easier than many wanted to admit.
One of the biggest positives to come out of UFC 118 is that UFC has another marketable main event upcoming now with Edgar defending his title against the imposing challenge of Gray Maynard, the only man to ever beat Edgar in MMA. These are the types of match ups that a guy like me would love to produce because of the contract in styles and personalities of the combatants. Remember, anticipation builds interest and interest builds the bottom line.
Edgar did in fact validate his dance card. The way he continuously moves is enough to make any man dizzy when just standing in front of him. I wonder if he just slams like 5 Red Bull energy drinks before he heads out to the Octagon. As far as I know, it's not illegal. As far as his thought that the Maynard-Edgar fight is marketable he couldn't be any more wrong. I'm not sure there is anyone that is eagerly anticipating that fight. Maybe BJ Penn fans that want to see Edgar get beat but probably not even them. Maynard has a style that just doesn't sell and he has zero personality to make up for it. Maynard has gone to decision in his last 7 fights in the UFC; Edgar has went the distance 7 times out of 9 UFC fights. The Lightweights are usually the most entertaining but this fight has dud written all over it. If the UFC tries to sell this as a main event of a PPV card they won't pull the numbers they've been enjoying for months now.
Not sure what's up with BJ Penn, one of my favorite MMA fighters over the years, but either his heart simply isn't in it any longer or Edgar is MUCH better than even the experts perceive. Penn needs to decide what he truly wans to do with his career and who to be inside the octagon. The strategy that BJ employed Saturday night in Boston was a head scratcher. Why the lack of kicks and take down attempts? BJ also seemed more reactive than proactive.
Here is what I, and many others, believe about MMA and the fighters involved in it. There is no such thing as a perfect fighter. Everyone has some weakness somewhere that a certain fighter will be able to exploit. Frank Edgar is that guy to BJ Penn. His speed and movement is just too much for what Penn likes to do. There is nothing "up" with Penn, as JR said. He just realized early on that he wasn't going to be able to win the fight. It really looked like he stopped giving it his all. Once he got a takedown and couldn't do anything with it, he totally gave up. Is Penn overrated? Maybe he is.
However, UFC took another positive, marketing and brand building step in a key, Northeast market and will obviously return to Boston at some point in the future. One can assume that many UFC honchos would have preferred to have had a better night of fights in Bean Town. However, once the athletes enter the Octagon how well they engage and entertain the fans lies within their hands and feet and not of the promotion.
I've been a part of many events that looked great on paper but because of poor execution by the talents on a given might we simply did not deliver the desired product to the consumer. Nonetheless for my money UFC PPV's are still one of the best values available on TV. Although Mir-Cro Cop hasn't captured my imagination as of yet, I'll likely watch their fight from Indianapolis unless OU football intervenes.
From all accounts the UFC did well in Boston. The fights didn't deliver as well as I'm sure they would have liked but I don't think it will affect any future decisions for fans to go back to a UFC show. I'm sure there are a lot of fans who felt like they got plenty of value for their money just for getting to watch James Toney get tooled the way he did. I know I enjoyed seeing it.
How could he not be excited for Frank Mir vs Mirko Cro Cop? I know that Cro Cop hasn't been doing what he used to do in the glory days of PRIDE but he's still got enough in the tank to put on entertaining fights. Plenty of people are going to pick Mir to win by submission here but don't be surprised if he decides to trade punches with the Croatian. Make sure you're even less surprised when Mir knocks him out. You heard it here first ladies and gentlemen.
You can read JR's Blog here.