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UFC 93 – The Aftermath

I was out of town last weekend so I missed UFC 93. Cactus Jim did the play by play for me. Based on the feedback, UFC 93 was much better live than it was on PPV. Alan and Duan were there in person and loved the show, while Cactus Jim, Big D, and Stevie J (Angry Marks) were more lukewarm on the show.

Let’s get to the feedback.

Big D

Show overall rating: Thumbs Up

Best Fight: Dan Henderson vs. Rich Franklin
Worst Fight: Alan Belcher vs. Denis Kang

UFC 93 was a pretty decent show. Not really a bad card overall. It’s lack of real star power or big championship match may hinder its ability to do well on the DVD market, but I do reccommend at least a rental. The opener with Davis/Lytle is what you would expect – a back and forth tagfest. Denis Kang got beaten by Alan Belcher in a fun fight. Jeremy Horn proved why fighting over 100 times is good and bad at the same time.

The two top fights were… interesting… for totally different reasons. Henderson vs. Franklin was what I expected – two above-average fighters, who are both babyfaces, battling it out to see who was the better man. Henderson won the decision and it was tough to argue, but this is one of those kinds of fights that could go either way. Henderson won and now coaches Ultimate Fighter IX.

But the fight that really caught my eye was Coleman/Shogun. Shogun came out and he looked good. I predicted on my show that Coleman’s age would be an issue and that the lack of the three Rs would affect this fight: Rules (Pride), Roids, and Ropes, but never did I think I’d see Coleman gas in the first two minutes, and walk around like a zombie. He looked like he was out on his feet for 13 minutes of the fight and could not be finished by the younger, faster, and stronger Mauricio Rua. I felt more embarrassed for Rua because he couldn’t finish a 44 year old with glazed eyes, moving at the speed of a turtle, by a guy who was once considered the best 205 lb fighter in the entire world. You can make a case for Coleman that he is at LEAST five years past his prime, although nine is a more realistic figure, but Shogun is supposed to be a world beater who just recovered from a knee injury, and yet his strikes looked like they had little to no strength behind them, knowing that almost ANYBODY ELSE would’ve probably finished Coleman in the first round as opposed to the final seconds of the third. Overall, this fight was a stain on Shogun’s career and if he does not destroy Chuck in April, I don’t see what they could do to rehab him.

Alan

Show overall rating: Thumbs Up

Best Fight: Rousimar Palhares vs. Jeremy Horn
Worst Fight: Tomasz Drwal vs. Ivan Serati (live card)

Ok, I friggin LOVED the UFC show. One of the best atmospheres I’ve ever experienced in my life with very few lulls in noise. There was not a single bad or boring fight. Everything was entertaining in one way or another. The main event felt like a great battle between two guys at the tippy top of the game, Rua/Coleman (while technically ugly) was as dramatic a fight as I’ve seen in some time, Davis/Lyttle was a great stand up war and Palhares/Horn was a great BJJ chess match.

Everything on the undercard rocked balls too. The atmosphere for the Irish lad vs. the heel Brit was absolutely positively insane and Martin Kampmann’s fight was pretty cool with him coming back from the low blow all fired up and wanting blood.

Cactus Jim

Show overall rating: Thumbs Down

Best Fight: Dan Henderson vs. Rich Franklin
Worst Fight: Mark Coleman vs. Shogun Rua

Having been to a number of live events, I can see where the FGB’ers that attended live might have a different opinion than I do about the quality of the show. They saw additional matches and the live show energy definitely adds to the enjoyment. For as bad as the European shows tend to be on television, the crowd goes apeshit for the entire time. This was the final straw for a friend of mine who vowed never to buy another European show. I tend to agree that unless they beef up the cards on these shows, I may have to start passing too. I’m OK with decisions, I like ground work, and I don’t expect every fight to be 5 star quality, but this show fell flat on so many levels that I was actually a little bitter about the $45 I spent to watch. I felt there was minimal star power, no championship fights, and no significant effects based on the outcome of the fight with the exception of Henderson coaching the next season of TUF. Really? Who cares?

Duan

Show overall rating: Thumbs Up

Best Fight: Mark Coleman vs. Shogun Rua
Worst Fight: Alan Belcher vs. Denis Kang

This was definitely a show which came across far better live than it did on PPV. It’s often said that the best live audiences are in Dublin, and I believe last weekend certainly confirmed that. Hell, Dana White himself said that it was the best crowd they have ever had at a UFC event. The noise in the arena was absolutely deafening from the very first prelim, right up to the main event. The audience wasn’t even silenced when the hometown boy Egan got completely overwhelmed just before the live broadcast started. Just an unbelievable atmosphere all night.

I can understand Jim’s viewpoint because nothing on the PPV portion of the card stood out as being an absolute must see, but the show live really benefited from strength in depth. All of the ten fights on the card were fun to watch. There was nothing really boring to kill the momentum, and that meant the crowd remained hot throughout.

For me the fight of the night was Rua vs. Coleman. Even though it was as sloppy a fight as you are ever likely to see, it was still really dramatic to watch unfold. I have heard people criticize Coleman over the last few days and I feel that is really unfair. At 44 years old the guy did so much better than anyone could have expected from him. He showed huge heart and deserved to at least make it to the final bell. On the other hand Rua’s performance was nothing short of embarrassing. He looked lifeless, with poor movement, and had no real snap in his punches. If that is the best he has to offer I don’t see much of a future for him in UFC. I feel that even a spent Chuck Liddell should still dismantle him.

Stevie J

Show overall rating: Thumbs In The Middle

Best Fight: Mark Coleman vs. Shogun Rua
Worst Fight: didn’t choose one

I can’t really give this show a thumbs up OR a thumbs down. It was better than the card headlined by Anderson Silva v. Patrick Cote, but that’s not saying a whole lot. I was intrigued enough by the two main events to purchase the show, but just barely. The two main events lived up to my expectations, but just barely. The fight of the night was definitely Shogun Rua v. Mark Coleman, but in a way it was good for all the wrong reasons. Rua looked TERRIBLE. He wasn’t exactly cut to begin with, he gassed out by the second round, and he could barely finish Coleman before the end of the third. Coleman looked cut up, but he’s over 40 and has none of the cardio or clean living advantages an older fighter like Couture does, so he was gassed in two MINUTES. The incredible thing is that Rua couldn’t finish him, and Coleman just kept hanging in there. He had his hands hanging down by his waist, offered no defense whatsoever, but whenever Rua got into range he’d still jab him in the face or take him down. In fact Coleman took him down so many times in round three I thought he was on his way to WINNING R3 until he got stood up. Rua needs to buy that ref a belated Christmas present, because he got a gift – Coleman was stood up and was basically a punching bag for Rua to tag with an uppercut. He probably would have gotten the decision victory anyway if Coleman had lasted 30 more seconds, but at least one judge would have given Coleman a round, and you never know – one might have given Coleman two (neither fighter really dominated the second round to a great degree). Coleman will be remembered as the old man who couldn’t be finished, and people will call it a gutsy performance. Rua will be remembered as the out of shape young fighter who couldn’t finish an old man, and that’s just sad. Rua won the fight, Coleman won the crowd. Getting to see that made it worth buying this PPV. I also enjoyed the Palhares v. Horn fight but I can understand why a lot of people were bored by it. Fights in MMA are sometimes described as a “human chess match” and this one fits the bill. Palhares was clearly stronger (and those throws and suplexes reminded me of Brock Lesnar) and probably a better technical ground fighter, but Horn is a veteran (100+ fights) and the best way to put it is that he’s ONE CRAFTY BASTARD. You’re not going to do anything to Horn that hasn’t been done or show him anything he hasn’t seen, and he finds ways to survive. In fact, judging by his record, more often than not he finds ways to WIN. He had Palhares in trouble several times, particularly when he got the reversal in round two, so I enjoyed the whole move/counter-move battle they had trying to outthink and outwit each other. Not exciting to people who like a slugfest or a quick submission, but for me it was fun. The main event on the other hand was two guys trying not to lose, and Henderson did less to lose than Franklin, but only slightly less. Really dull main event. Not hateable, just not exciting at all. Showing the Egan v. Hathaway fight was the right move – at least they both went for broke and they really had the crowd behind them. That probably should have been on the main card. The crowd’s love for Marcus Davis made that fight otherwise it would have been dull too. Alan Belcher is no joke. I’ll probably end up buying the DVD to watch the bonus fights and a couple of the main card events again but this PPV suffers just by having to follow UFC 92, one of the best cards of 2008.

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