Tonight, I thought to myself, "I could watch the Jorge Arce fight." And I will watch that fight -- but I just didn't feel like I had it in me right at the moment. It's been a long week of boxing coverage. Hundreds of updates on this site, mostly about Mayweather vs Ortiz, but a lot of other stuff, too. I watched fights this afternoon. I watched fights last night.
I could kind of feel potential burnout. I needed to flip the switch. So I watched UFC 135 tonight, both for fun and because I had an idea: Since Mayweather vs Ortiz was the 1399492549835th boxing pay-per-view that ended in casual fans saying, "Oh! Never again! Never will I order this!" I wanted to see what "the competition" had to offer one week later on pay-per-view.
The way I figure it, if you own a strip joint, and a new one opens in town, you go over and see what they're offering. Or you could use something less seedy than that, I guess, like a restaurant with a similar menu, or a sports bar, or whatever. I think it's good to keep up with UFC and compare their product to what boxing offers in big fights. It's not that the sports are the same (they are not), but the intent is the same: Sell to fight fans. Who does better? Who has the better production? Who has the better entertainment?
Now this isn't the biggest UFC card by any means, but one of the strengths of the UFC, their staunchest defenders tell me, is that all of their cards are worth paying for -- not that they always wind up being great shows, or even "worth the money," but they put a full card out there that, on paper, you're happy to pay for. And to be entirely fair, we hear far less about people writing off the UFC because of a bum, overhyped pay-per-view than we do with boxing.
Disclaimer: I'm an MMA fan, but not a huge MMA fan. I'm definitely more toward a casual fan who watches, I don't know, half or so of the UFC pay-per-views in a given year at this point. But I don't keep up with the sport day-to-day. I'm not claiming to be an expert by any means.
So this is just my running commentary during the show, and at the end, a comparison of what I feel are the qualities of the two pay-per-views: Mayweather vs Ortiz and UFC 135.
Nate Diaz SUB-1 Takanori Gomi
Nate is the brother of Nick, the guy boxing fans may recall trains some with Andre Ward and was going to fight Jeff Lacy at some point, but, shockingly, isn't actually going to do that because nobody really cares. But that's beside the point. I'm quite familiar with Gomi, and familiar with the fact that he's far past his prime. Diaz picks him apart with boxing in this one -- not the boxing we talk about here very often, but MMA boxing. Although that might still make him a better boxer than Mike Lee. Ohhhhh!
I guess this was fine entertainment. Totally one-sided and I guess a boxing comparison might be a typical Friday Night Fights co-feature with a very faded veteran in the role of guy who loses, but the veteran comes to fight and is just totally overwhelmed.
Travis Browne UD-3 Rob Broughton (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Dull, dull, dull. Heavyweights. I swear to God. Reminded me of today's Dimitrenko vs Sprott fight in some ways. Browne just looked better (and he's 6'7"), and Broughton is even British like Sprott. Lots of ground stuff -- lots of guys looking exhausted by the effort. Typical heavyweight fighting. Crowd booing during third round. I thought everything was exciting? One interesting moment with about 40 seconds left when Broughton got close to getting a submission. Fight ended to boos mixed with silence.
Not a good fight at all. The sort of fight that would be relentlessly crapped on by an HBO pay-per-view team in the moments they could tear themselves away from discussing the narrative of the night's main event.
Hunt, for those who don't know, was a top K-1 fighter and has big knockout power. But he's 6-7 in MMA coming into this fight. "When Mark Hunt wins," Joe Rogan told me during the entrance, "he wins in a horrible way." Hunt came out to Eminem. Rothwell came out to the WWE theme. This was a push.
First round features Hunt desperately avoiding being on the mat. Second round features Hunt raining down some nasty right hands in the ground-and-pound, wearing Rothwell out and further opening a cut that came about in the first round. Round ends and Rothwell is literally carried to his corner because he can't stand anymore. Third round sees Rothwell drag himself around the cage like a zombie in a frankly somewhat frightening scene. Rothwell in there trying, mostly on instinct. Referee called "stupid" by Rogan for standing up the fighters from side mount. Rothwell slowly wanders around the ring looking like he's about to collapse. I've got the bloodthirsty streak of most fight fans, but this kind of punishment I do not enjoy. There's a difference in fighters being protected in the two sports, and when I see stuff like this, it does turn me off. That's just me. I applaud Rothwell's courage and admire his toughness, but this is a situation where in boxing, someone usually (and I stress usually) steps in and saves a fighter from potentially awful damage.
Josh Koscheck KO-1 Matt Hughes
Koscheck is called by Rogan possibly "the most hated man in mixed martial arts," something he "engineered" as a smart "promoter," and his theory being, "Love me or hate me, just talk about me." Remind you of anyone? Koscheck is not the MMA equivalent of Floyd Mayweather in, well, any other way, but he does do well in this regard.
Hughes is a legitimate legend, one of my old favorites. I used to like the wrestlers from Hughes' peak era who could really just dominate a guy with wrestling and put the hurt down on them. One of my favorite MMA fights -- not one of the ones I've seen that I think is the best, but a favorite personal memory/fight -- was Hughes vs Frank Trigg.
Koscheck winds up beating the living hell out of Hughes in the final moments of the first round, and pounds him out with some nasty strikes with Hughes on the mat. I like the way Koscheck plays it up -- he doesn't go over-the-top, but he looks cocky when accepting the win, and even when saying that Hughes is a legend and thanking him for taking the fight, he just seems arrogant. He is a pretty good self-promoter.
DEEP WATERS! DEEP WATERS! DEEP WATERS!
These guys yell at me a lot. I did like the NEW NEW NEW world order cut-in of Rampage Jackson in the main event video package.
Jones is the hot young star of MMA, the UFC light heavyweight champion. Jackson is a mean-mugging veteran and part-time actor. Staredown is interesting -- Jackson is right in his face, Jones makes no eye contact.
The first round is all Jones, but not in one of those exciting ways. The second round is the same. The third? The same. Quinton Jackson, between the third and fourth rounds, looks like Shane Mosley in the Mayweather and Pacquiao fights. He looks mentally defeated and vacant.
In the fourth, Jones chokes out Jackson with ease. This was never close. It was never a contest.
UFC 135 vs Mayweather-Ortiz: Comparing the Events
First and foremost, I truly believe the better fights came from the boxing show. The main event was more bizarre and stunning than it was a good fight (far moreso), but again, there were three really good battles on the Mayweather vs Ortiz undercard. Bigger MMA fans may disagree, but I didn't think there was a standout fight here, anything particularly great. They may also disagree that the Mayweather vs Ortiz undercard was all that good. I don't know.
Usually, UFC has much better overall pacing than big boxing shows, but Mayweather vs Ortiz didn't really have that problem, as none of the fights ended super early, which always leads to time needing to be killed later. The worst we saw with that was the De La Hoya vs Pacquiao show in December 2008 when all of the disgusting mismatches ended quickly, leaving us with the HBO talking heads at ringside talking forever. The UFC show moved at its usual crisp pace. They never feel as if they have downtime, and on the rare occasions there is some, they have, in my experience, seemed better prepared for it.
Commentary? I will make no secret of this: I am not at all a fan of Mike Goldberg, who to me comes off like a QVC pitchman trying to hawk me fake diamonds on a gold plated band. I think Rogan is very valuable, but he's kind of a cheerleader himself -- but at least, in my view, that comes from his being a massive fan. I'm also not crazy about the HBO team, though I do like Emanuel Steward quite a bit. Lampley and Merchant are sort of the opposite Goldberg/Rogan -- where the UFC guys are at times a bit overenthusiastic and search for any way to make things look better, the veteran HBO duo too often focuses on the faults of what's going on. Example: During the Morales vs Cano fight last weekend, Merchant was far, far too obsessed with the validity of the title at stake and seemed he couldn't care less about the bloody brawl in front of him where two guys were giving everything they had.
The main event of the UFC show was very, very much like the last two big Shane Mosley fights, as mentioned before. Jackson was clearly old, a little bit trigger shy, and had no idea what to do with a dynamic, explosive, younger, fresher fighter. Jon Jones could be a very special fighter for the UFC. He's one of those athletes who can make it look effortless, like Mayweather.
One thing I did like was that Rampage Jackson didn't change his story. He said after the fight, "Jon Jones is great, you guys. I thought it was hype, the kid is good." He made no excuses, said he was in the best shape of his career, and that he was simply beaten by a great champion.
But was Jones vs Jackson a good fight? Nah. No different than Mayweather or Pacquiao vs Mosley weren't good fights. No standouts on the undercard, one-sided and somewhat dull main event with a clearly overmatched, faded fighter... so where was the beef on this show?
UFC has lower-tier pay-per-view events, too. This was one of them. The show wound up being "just another show" overall, with nothing particularly gripping. And it cost people money. It didn't have the absurd $70 HD pricetag of the Mayweather fight, but it cost a chunk of change, and I don't feel as though anything special happened. The demand for something special out of pay-per-view boxing is huge -- why not for UFC's pay-per-views, too? If I'm a casual fan spending money after being hyped and promoted at by Dana White and Joe Rogan and the fighters, shouldn't I expect more than a ho-hum event? Can I be outraged? Am I outraged?
I guess I can see where people felt ripped off by Mayweather vs Ortiz but would not feel truly ripped off by Jones vs Rampage. As a full card, pound-for-pound (so to speak), I truly in my heart feel the boxing show had better fights this time. But you can't truly account for something like the Mayweather vs Ortiz finish, because it elicits such a personal, emotional reaction.
Would I order the next UFC show? Well, let's put it this way: Even if I said no, I probably would anyway. Mayweather vs Ortiz was kind of in its own world, and I guess beneath the comparison, it's really more about comparing it to other letdown boxing shows with one-sided main events. The last boxing event was unique. That wasn't usual. We'll probably never see anything quite like it happen again, unless Floyd started a trend.
But if I were giving UFC 135 a thumbs reaction, I'd have to pansy out and go "in the middle."