The one thing that comes to mind when thinking of UFC 119 is the fact that it has absolutely zero buzz or hype surrounding it. It's a solid card from top to bottom but there isn't a single matchup that would draw a significant amount of fans. There may not be a single fight that will draw even a spattering of fans. If they can manage to hit the 300,000 buys mark, that would have to be considered a success. That said, plenty of matchups should deliver as much excitement as a more high profile card. A few talking points:
- The significance of the Mirko Cro Cop-Frank Mir fight is solely dependant on Cro Cop winning. Any other result will have no effect on Mir or the heavyweight division. He's been making excuses from the moment he accepted the fight. On top of that he suffered an eye injury in his final sparring session in training to further extend the problems he has. A victory would make an otherwise forgettable run in the UFC, something special. Suddenly he would earn the label of "contender". On top of that he will have overcome all the odds he's been complaining about for all this time. Would be quite a story if it plays out that way.
- The Matt Serra-Chris Lytle rematch seems like it took forever to make but the timing could not be any better. Both guys are in the perfect spot in their career to put on the best fight possible. They both have an exciting style that's tailor made for the fans. The chances of this fight being anything like the first fight are minimal. The stakes today are not nearly as high as they were the first time. Matt Serra was quoted as saying the pressure was tremendous. It was the final of TUF 4 and the winner would earn a title shot. He told Ariel Helwani he had a wedding to pay for and really needed the win bonus, not to mention the kind of money that would come in with a championship fight. So both guys played it safe and we ended up with a disappointing split decision. This time around these two will be looking to put on a show, Serra because it's what he loves to do and Lytle for his hometown crowd. Nothing to lose in this one and they should be letting them fly.
- We haven't seen Sean Sherk since May of last year. It feels like it's been longer. That last fight was at UFC 98 against current Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar. To give you an idea of how long Sherk has been gone, Edgar has fought and defeated Matt Veach and B.J. Penn twice since his win over Sherk. What many may not know is that Sherk has just 4 losses in 38 professional fights; Edgar, Penn, Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre. Which means his only losses are to current or former world champions. Evan Dunham, for his part, has never lost, including 4 fights in the UFC. He's built a steady resume beating guys like Marcus Aurelio, Efrain Escudero and Tyson Griffin. A win over Sherk would surely catapult him into title contention. The issue he may run into is that, even if he wins and performs well, how many people will see him do it?
- Ryan Bader is being given his chance to make himself a name at 205lbs. There are a significant portion of fans that believe Antonio Rogerio Nogueira lost his last fight to Jason Brilz, a fighter with a similar style to Bader's. Little Nog looked slow and had a lot of trouble keeping up with Brilz wrestling game and constant takedowns. Bader will bring it even faster and harder. A win by either guy likely earns them a fight with phenom Jon Jones. One could argue that this fight, with a ton of divisional relevance, should be the main event as opposed to the meaningless bout that will come after it. No matter it's place on the card it's an early contender for fight of the night.
It's unfortunate that so many fans are likely to skip out on this card. Melvin Guillard and Jeremy Stephens will likely open the night and that's an explosive matchup. Then it's to Dunham vs Sherk, young up and comer against hungry old lion that can still scrap. The rematch between Lytle and Serra, both guys coming in this time with everything to gain and nothing to lose. Bader and Little Nog in the co-main just a fight or two away from a title shot. Main event aside, this is worth the money.