Michael Farrow's sports blog

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..on the live UFC experience and other miscellaneous stuff

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Marcus Davis' entrance and subsequent win went over massive live but didn't translate to TV

With UFC 72 already reviewed, I talk about UFC 72 as a live experience and the forthcoming weekend of fighting, which includes two pay-per-views, one reality show finale and a boxing superfight without the lustre.The UFC 72 experience

Being the MMA zone’s sole British representative, I headed to one of London’s many airports early on Saturday morning to catch a 90-minute flight to Belfast. It has been a strange few months for everybody here at 411mania. We’ve come such a long way in such a short time, building a readership and a base of dedicated writers. Yet here I am, in Belfast to cover the biggest MMA event that the Emerald Isle has been. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve covered other promotions in Britain before but the UFC does things on a different level.

It seemed that everybody I met was interested in UFC. Even if they didn’t know what was going on, they were intrigued. Many people I spoke to talked of the buzz, even at Joe Rogan’s now-obligatory stand-up comedy performance the night before. The building had a buzz which just did not translate to the television. Maybe it was because they did not show the fights involving local fighters, where they received a Forrest Griffin-esque welcome. However, the fans were very appreciative for the vast majority of the evening.

This was my second UFC and my first as credentialled media. I have limited experience with going to shows as press but it seems to me that the UFC operates on quite a different level to other promotions. While people are cottoning on with the conference calls and the PR packs, I haven’t experienced anything like the UFC. The organisation was incredible. Press releases, scorecards, they make sure you have it. The Odyssey was probably ill-equipped for the level of facilities the UFC usually supply but they made the best of it, despite the sauna-like conditions in the press conference, which saw Dana White offer $1,000 for somebody to turn the air conditioning on.

I have had the chance to watch the tape back for UFC 72. I must say, I was comparatively underwhelmed watching the show on TV than I was watching it live. They seemed to pick out every empty seat. They didn’t catch the rabid nature of some of the fans. It was lightning in a bottle and, overall, far more impressive than the Manchester show. This is possible due to the comparatively small size of the Odyssey.

I questioned their reasoning behind going to the 10th biggest market in the UK before going to the 1st. However, the show hit all the buttons. For a show derided by some as a waste of time, it came off spectacularly.

Strikeforce

Come Friday night, we shall have our answer; is Shamrock still for real or is Baroni going to destroy him? It is disappointing and somewhat worrying that the semi-main event featuring Joey Villasenor and Murilo “Ninja” Rua has had to be changed due to Rua failing to win a license but Niko Vitale is a decent replacement. Rua is massively experienced and has fought on three continents. Now, I find it shocking that the first time he is subjected to an American licensing procedure, he fails. He has fought twice in this country, where sanctioning is non-existent. There are questions that need to be answered. The California State Athletic Commission’s hands are tied by California’s stringent patient confidentiality laws. However, I wonder if we will see an announcement from Chute Boxe to the exact problems. I genuinely hope there isn’t a repeat of this next month with his younger brother.

The Ultimate Fighter

I guess it is early to talk about the season as a whole, as we have yet to have the finale but it seems like the show might have actually worked. The sixteen-man tournament would have put a strain on the fighters but the fight quality has been right up there and that is due to the fighters they have recruited and how they recruited them. The Ultimate Fighter is no longer about one fighter getting a shot, it’s a vehicle to get to know guys who the UFC think could be stars. In that respect, it is slightly disappointing that of all the guys who had made it to the UFC, not a single one made the final. Only one made the semi finals and was beaten at his own game.

However, I am looking forward to the finale. An intriguing final and a grudge match between two stars as the main event. It’s all for free too. As Alan Partridge would say “back of the net”.

Kimbo/Mercer

I know the pound is very strong against the dollar right now but $15 looks an absolute bargain to me. £8 would probably get me a cinema ticket at the weekend but if you’re looking for a little cheap fun, couldn’t go far worse than the Cage Fury Fighting Championships show featuring Kimbo Slice and Ray Mercer. The big worry for them is that they’re competing against the Hatton/Castillo fight for the World Light Welterweight title and the TUF 5 finale. It’s a shame because, for $15, the show looks like a ton of fun and decent value-for-money.

Hatton/Castillo

On the same night as the above two shows, I should mention the fight over boxing’s World Light Welterweight title. Now, I know what people are thinking; neither man holds a belt that’s worth a damn and neither guy has impressed for a while. Hatton had two fights against tricky southpaws and has seemingly turned into the 140 lb John Ruiz. Castillo faces accusations that he’s finished. However, that doesn’t matter. Ricky Hatton is the guy that beat the guy in Kostya Tszyu and is the number one guy in the division. It does not matter that he doesn’t hold one of the “big four” titles, he’s more proven than all of them put together. Paulie Malignaggi is welcome to the IBF version of the title as it doesn’t mean anything.

The world title is a state of mind now. It doesn’t literally exist, except where the Ring decide somebody is a champion in a division. As much as I like the guy, Junior Witter isn’t the world light welterweight champion, despite holding the WBC version of the title, customarily considered the most prestigious version of the title. He’s certainly going to become the number two guy in the division if he can beat Vivian Harris this summer, behind the winner of Hatton/Castillo. It’s a shame it has to be this way but I’m happier to think of it like this.

In this respect, I have got to thinking this week that after watching the Judah/Cotto fight, boxing could really revel in this media backlash labelling them a dying sport. It allows them to be defiant and edgy and feel like the rebels in society because they’re in a sport that won’t die, damn it. Everybody has been quick to eulogise when boxing isn’t dead. It’s alive and well, it just needs a few nips and tucks and a spirit of cooperation.

Also, I have been pondering the following question; do we view modern champions through overly-cynical eyes while viewing “old-time greats” through rose-tinted glasses?

If I could find my password for my Betfair account, I’d put down a little money on Castillo. A boxing journalist with vast experience in the fight game said he couldn’t see any way he’d lose.

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Written by Michael Farrow

June 20, 2007 at 3:19 pm

Posted in MMA

Tagged with , , ,

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