Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Looking for a Fight: UFC Weekend

This was not how Dana White imagined this weekend would go.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by,When hope was high and life, worth living.I dreamed that love would never die,I dreamed that God would be forgiving. 
Then I was young and unafraid,And dreams were made and used and wasted.There was no ransom to be paid,No song unsung, no wine, untasted. 
But the tigers come at night,With their voices soft as thunder,As they tear your hope apart,And they turn your dream to shame.
Les Miserables is a 19th century French novel by Victor Hugo. Set in early 1800s France the novel follows numerous characters struggles for redemption. More commonly known for its musical stage adaptation Les Miserables has also been developed for the silver screen, with the most recent version coming out this Summer and starring Anne Hathaway with a slew of other notable co-stars. While I don't expect Dana White to be singing down the mud soaked streets of historical Paris, he did have a lot of bad things happen to turn his dream to shame.

Months ago in the pre-planning stages of the upcoming UFC 147 event in Brazil, White dared to dream. He saw a football stadium filled with UFC fans, record breaking pay-per-views, a history making event the likes of which the UFC or perhaps sports have never seen all topped off by what could have been the most anticipated fight in UFC history for the middleweight title.

The UFC is never one to play their cards close to their chest when it comes to getting people excited. So having all of the intrigue of Anderson Silva v. Chael Sonnen II in Brazil was a possibility, the UFC did all it could to make it a reality.

However, that card as originally constituted is in shambles. The Silva Sonnen fight was a no go in June in Brazil due to the Rio +20 meeting swooping into Rio de Janeiro causing a strain on space and logistically made a fight of that size at that time an impossibility. Without the use of a soccer stadium to accommodate the record setting crowd, the fight was bumped to the UFC's typical mega card over July 4th weekend.

What remained was a card for the culmination of the first Ultimate Fighter season from Brazil. The top contestants fought, one presumably for that six-figure or approximately 205,462 BRL contract with the UFC. The coaches fight was Wanderlei Silva v. Vitor Belfort, which in Brazil would have been a barn burner, but a late hand injury to Belfort nixed that as well.

With limited options available, the UFC got their rematch to headline the card, but certainly not the one they intended. Silva v. Franklin II will pit two of the only best 190lbs on the planet. Both fighters are certainly established gamers, however, this fight along with some fighters from a Brazil TUF season that few people watched in the states leads me to believe this will be a tough PPV sell for the UFC. All of the changes that have drastically altered this card and Dana White's vision, shouldn't the PPV tag follow suit? This is especially true when the night before UFC on FX 4 hits the free airwaves and boasts a much more intriguing card.

I mean with names like Joey Gambino, Hatsu Hioki, Ricardo Lamas, and love-child Brock Jardine that alone is eye catching stuff.

The main event of this card has the potential to be the best fight of the whole weekend. While Silva and Franklin are always gamers, Gray Maynard and Clay Guida are all out fighters. Maynard didn't win in spectacular fashion twice to current top contender in the packed lightweight division, Frankie Edgar, and Guida, aside from his dull fight against Anthony Pettis, is always high energy and pushing forward.

Maynard can have a sketchy gameplan from fight to fight. He may not know if he wants to wrestle or kickbox or how to transition between the two. This may be a result of constantly jumping from camp to camp, but against a fast paced guy like Guida, this could cause issues.

Although Guida does have a cardio advantage on Maynard, all of his strengths are also that of Maynard. Wrestling and submissions are perfectly countered by Maynard, and I have a hard time seeing Guida knocking Maynard out.

Unless Guida can make this a long fight and tire out Maynard, I don't see many openings for Guida to win this fight. I'll say Maynard by split decision.

So while this weekend may not be all the UFC planned, fight fans need to be happy with a bunch of good fights on back to back nights.

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