Due to Vince McMahon's wonderful contract with Foxtel in Australia (ie - "you can have ALL my increasingly horrible shows, even the ones WE
don't even watch, at a reduced rate as long as you don't show anything that can be considered "competition to us"), it is with great moral instability that I thank eMule once again for providing me with a surprisingly clear copy of UFC 56 (as well as season two of TUF and everything that we will discuss henceforth on this thread).
56 was an interesting show for a few reasons. I'll do the bullet-point thing due to laziness (off to training soon, gotta conserve energy) -
* Horn VS Prangley. Funny how the crowd was cheering Horn's submission attempts from the bottom, and all-round keeping busy while Prangley does nothing but lay & pray, yet they boo the decision going to Horn at the end. The two things this makes me aware of is that the general audience is becoming alot more savvy as to how MMA works and aren't just looking for stand-up KO's anymore, which is always a good thing. And secondly, are we seeing a change of direction in the UFC judge's scoring criteria? They've always had a tendency to blindly just score for the guy on top (ie - favouring straight wrestling), despite the fighter's activity. I hope this isn't just a one-off thing.
* Announcements. Glad to see Mir back as I really like the guy, but I certainly don't rate his chances against Arlovski, who I consider the ONLY HW in the UFC that would even stand a chance in Pride. Esepecially after Mir's accident, and if the rumours of him having toruble changing levels are true, he's a sitting duck. Still, a 75% Mir is, arguably, better than a 100% Buentello, Eilers, Kyle, Jordan, Gonzaga . . . erm . . . shit. Let's face it, Arlovski and Mir *ARE* the UFC Heavyweight Division. Oh, there's Sylvia . . . I guess . . .
* Ortiz & Shamrock as coaches for TUF 3. Well I guess they've given up on trying to create new talent for their promotion and figure those 13 weeks of TV are better off building up a rematch to a feud that came and went 4 years ago. I have all the respect in the world for Ken, but the man is a dinosaur who didn't evolve with the sport, in my opinion. Not as well as he could have, anyway. Sure, he's been unlucky lately (that fiight with Kaz was stopped early, I don't care what argument you have - Pride's ref stoppages are more wildly inconsistent than the UFC's), but the bottom line is that half the guys that they pick to be on the show will probably be able to beat Ken! Ortiz, on the other hand, has proven he's a B-Level fighter who can't step it up against the cream of the crop, but maintain's an A-List Actor's ego. It's all about Tito so I don't see him being the best choice to coach a group of incoming talent.
Problem is, I can't think off the top of my head who two better suggestions would be, so fuck it. They need ratings, and they're doing pro-wrestling better than WWE right now, so it's all good, I guess.
* BJ Penn is back. Yay. And man, is he walking around at 190 now or something?! Jesus! Didn't he step up a weight to fight Hughes in the first place? Now it looks like he'll have to take two steps DOWN. Either way, couldn't care less. Talented fighter, can't argue that, but so is Matt "The Bore" Lindland and he doesn't stop me from hitting the FF button, either.
* Hughes & Riggs. Well, it was rather anti-climactic after Riggs failed to make weight, but did anyone seriously give Riggs a chance in the first place? There's a reason why he wasn't the first choice to begin with, and no one I know or train with even rated the guy that highly, myself included. I was expecting a 1st or 2nd round loss, 5 rounds or not. Was NOT expecting a kimura, though. Nice work by Hughes, who didn't seem to gain any heel heat off the crowd after TUF2. I dunno what Riggs is doing at such a low weight - he looks fantastic at that size, but he's obviously losing alot of strength or conditioning to do it. Hell, if I drop 5kg I lose a tonne of strength, let alone 10-15!
* St Pierre VS Sherk. Seemed like a good match-up on paper, didn't it? Yeesh. St Pierre is brilliant. I love this guy. I dare anyone here to NOT love the guy. How can you not? You can't, that's how! He's just the man. Awesome promo post-match, too. He's got character, and that's exactly what this sport needs - characters and personalities to put the asses in seats. Once the asses are in the seats, THEN let the in-cage abilities take care of the rest. The US audience would love someone like "Rampage", all swagger and badmouthing, but can get the job done. The whole "he's a great fighter, it's an honour to face him" thing is great and it's also wonderful that they MEAN it when they say it, but too much of it doesn't sell tickets. People want to see conflict. Biggest gates UFC ever took? The ones with personal grudges to settle - Ortiz/Shamrock, Ortiz/Liddell . . . it's not rocket science.
One of those grey areas for me, personally, as I do have resepct for anyone I fight in MMA and honestly believe in all those things all those fighters say about one another. but having also spent the past 5-6 years doing pro-wrestling as well, I also know the value and power of markeitng to an audience and manipulating their emotions. It's a fine line, walking between the vaudeville theatrics of WWE-style match-up hype & the traditional customs and respect of a legitimate combative sport, but I think it's one that MMA has to tread to get the exposure they want.
* Heavyweight Match. Dud. Pure & simple. I hope Gonzaga didn't earn himself another chance with that last-second KO, because that really doesn't justify such a poor performance. The commentators just ripping into these two guys was the ebst thing the UFC could've possibly done to salvage such a piss-poor showing. Too many times in the past (in all promotions) I've seen horrible fights try to get covered up with comments about skill and difficulty etc etc to try and make it look better than it is. Only problem is, if you're a first-time viewer to the sport, and the "experts" are telling you this is the best MMA has to offer you, you're not likely to come back for more. I'm glad the UFC have finally realised this and are letting the guys call it how they see it.
* Quarry VS Franklin. Flat out ugliest KO I've seen in years. It's weird how watching something like this both ramps up the adrenaline to unbelievable heightsd, but also makes you feel pretty damn nauseous as well. Quarry was a mess. The contracted muscles and stiff leg were just . . . shit, poor bastard. Hmmm, Zuffa better start looking for some talented middleweights, cos I can't see anyone on the near horizon giving Rich too much trouble. Just so well-rounded, and like Randy, he's a fantastic ambassador for the sport. Talented, well-spoken, educated, respectful - it's just impossible to not like the guy.
Bah, most people probably gave up reading all this somewhere around the St Pierre/Sherk paragraph, anyway. I'm off to training - take care guys!
PS - New announcer guy made me LOL legit a couple of times, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not. Take that for what you will.