Thursday, September 13, 2012

Looking for a Fight: Will You Be Entertained at UFC 153?

Aldo and Rampage's injuries almost dealt another blow to the UFC. But then something different happened...

From the ashes of UFC 151: Never Happened and on the verge of another Popeiian disaster, the UFC was at risk of probably not cancelling UFC 153 in Rio, but rather putting together a shaky card at best. At best because with both the main event and co-main event fights being pulled due to injures to Jose Aldo and Quentin "Rampage" Jackson, even the myth of Glover Teixiera couldn't pull in the PPV buys or fan excitement Dana White would be looking for.

It hasn't been a great year for White or the UFC. With all the hype surrounding the FOX deal, injuries swept through the UFC like a glacier coming out of the ice age.

The two top PPV fighters of 2011 have been gone all year. Georges St-Pierre to an ACL tear, due back in November, and Brock Lesnar is back to being BROCK LESNAR, although he got to keep the gloves.

All the next top PPV fighter did in 2012 was become the youngest, most dominant champion on LHW history, crash his Bentley and get a DUI, sign a Nike sponsorship, get an entire PPV cancelled for the first time in the UFC's 12 year history, and become the most polarizing (as in probably just as many fans hate him as like him at this point) fighter in the UFC, and get publicly roasted by White during a media conference call. So, yeah.

From a business standpoint, sometimes it's good to be Dana White (from a business standpoint because, personally, it must rock to be Dana White). When you have the best fighter ever on speed dial, and the stars align just right, he was able to make some phone calls and save the card. White recruited middleweight kingpin/champ/overlord/God/whatever...Anderson Silva to take a fight with Stephan Bonnar in a 3 round main event fight at 205. Along with finding a replacement for the hyped Teixiera and Antonio "Big Nog" Noguiera hopping on board, this trinity of Brazilians assembled like Voltron to form, not a more powerful PPV, but as entertaining a card as one could have hoped for with a month left to go.

People are already complaining. Comments of "are you serious?" or "why would I pay to see Bonnar get KO'd in a minute" were already flooding message boards. Personally, I have no idea what people could be complaining about.

Let's take a moment to think about what has to take place for this to even come together. First off, if this isn't in Brazil, I'm not so sure these fighters get on board. Silva mentioned fighting someone to save UFC 151, but on 8 days, no one was too eager to face the baddest man on this orb. Big Nog scored a big win his last time in Brazil, so he's eager to get back. For Teixiera, this will be his big coming out party. It's not Rampage, but a lot of eyes will be on him.

Kudos need to go out to all of these fighters, especially Stephan Bonnar who took on the biggest challenge of them all. He will truly earn his "American Psycho" nickname with this one.

Critics of the new UFC 153 will be quick to throw out names, and play matchmaker, but with a month to go, fighters are normally well into training at this time. No one of Silva's quality would come in unprepared to fight a guy like a Rashad Evans. He took this fight because it was in Brazil, he could do 205, and a guy like Bonnar isn't likely to give him issues.

Ah, ha! So you know where I fall on the whole Jon Jones fiasco at 151. Not exactly. Bones had 2 distinctly different things from Silva.

  1. Jones was training, healthy, and ready to fight. He was ready to fight Dan Henderson but still ready. Silva was probably training and marginally healthy, but he wasn't supposed to fight again until 2013 (possibly in a super fight against GSP).
  2. There have been ups and downs with Silva regarding fans, but for the most part (the whole part if you're asking me) he's must see television. The fans love him. One of the overriding reasons JBJ declined to fight Chael Sonnen was to protect his brand. Which, as rational as I try to be, annoys me to no end. This concept of branding.You know what's a form of branding? How people think of you. Whether it's Dwight Howard, Jones, or LeBron James. Jones wasn't scared of Sonnen, but rather, I think, he hinged his decision on if I lose, then what?
This is still a combat sport, so anything can happen. So it does take on some risk to step into the Octagon with anyone, and as much crap as Bonnar is getting, he's a fighter. The fight will be entertaining no matter what.

I have no doubt Dana opened up the roster to Silva and said, you pick, we'll see if we can get him, and Bonnar was loony enough to say yes. 

Ultimately, what we received yesterday when this news broke, was a chance to see the Spider in the Octagon another time. I'd head to my local bar and pay a $10 cover to see Silva fight a garbage can as the main event, but for a chance to see him let loose? To fight carefree against a soft hitter like Bonnar, who if you gave him 3 clean shots to Silva probably couldn't wobble him, who knows what can happen? Will it be like Silva against Forrest Griffin? Awesome. I watched that fight over and over and over again. Silva's performance was a spectacle. 

Put that along a still strong card, man, if you can't see paying $54.99 for that, I don't know what to tell you.

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