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UFC 80: Review and recap including thoughts on the telecast, breakdown of the fights, and more

I’d give the card a B-plus. While there weren’t any classic fights, the dramatic endings to several of the fights were plenty memorable. The action that transpired during the conclusion of those fights made the card well worth the price. It was night of some brutal knockouts that really got the adrenaline flowing.

Also, consider me a fan of afternoon MMA on pay-per-view. I guess I am showing my age because I am much more awake at 3 p.m. ET than I am at 10 p.m. ET. I also grew up watching sports on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and watching sports in those time slots are just my preference. While I didn’t have to pay to see games on TV, I’m more than willing to pay money to avoid having to be subjected to a billion commercials. But I’m in the minority here as I know the sport’s young audience would much rather make a night of it and with disposable income being hard to come by at times when you’re in your early-to-mid-20’s, the more free MMA the better.

There were a few negatives for me.

This was the first UFC PPV that I’ve seen in high definition. I watched the season finale for the sixth season of TUF on HD and was really impressed. However, I wasn’t anywhere near as impressed with Saturday’s HD telecast and I’m not sure why. The UFC controls all of their own production so it’s the same cameras, producers, etc. It just seemed like a lot of the shots weren’t even in HD. Some of the shots looked great, such as the overhead camera angles but at other times I completely forgot that I was watching a telecast that I had paid extra to see. Once again I was completely underwhelmed by the graphics.

I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to technology and have only had HD for a brief period of time. I’d love to hear from people who know more about the subject than I and what your thoughts are about the HD telecast. One thing I am sure of, Yarrenoka! in HD looked ten times better than UFC 80 in HD.

Another negative was the UFC’s decision to use Sean Sherk as a third member of the announce team during the main event between B.J. Penn and Joe Stevenson. I understand the logic behind having him involved, as it helps promote a match down the line between him and Penn. However, considering the reason why he’s no longer champion it’s just a little hard for me to see him involved with almost no acknowledgment that he tested positive.

When they did their rap before the fight, Mike Goldberg sort of hinted at what the deal was and they hinted at it again during the match but they never addressed it with any sort of clarity. It almost seemed like that if you were a casual fan that wasn’t aware of the situation, the UFC wasn’t going to do anything to help inform you of the circumstances. From day one the company has tried to sweep the Sherk situation under the rug. It only seemed liked they announced it on their web site because they had no other choice. Dana White broke the news and in a way to call as little attention to it as possible.

The way Sherk was dealt with last night would never happen if it was the NFL, NBA, or Major League Baseball. But that’s what happens when MMA is covered like an entertainment show as opposed to a sport.

Sherk’s behavior to me is irrational, bizarre, and at times, borderline insane. Again, I’m not disgusted at him for testing positive for steroids and still don’t know whether he did it or not, but how he’s handled the situation is beyond embarrassing at this point. Saying during the match that he had no respect for B.J. Penn is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous was Sherk’s expression when he entered the cage and got booed. What, did Dick Cheney tell Sherk he’d be greeted as a liberator?

Normally Goldberg and Joe Rogan’s commentary doesn’t bother me but it did Saturday night. There were just some statements made that left me scratching my head. During the pre-taped promo for Jason Lambert, I believe I heard Goldberg say that Lambert “was talked about in the light heavyweight title picture after his win over Sobral.” Huh? Who talked about him in the UFC light heavyweight title picture?

At another point Rogan chimed in and said something to the effect of that “Babalu was a highly-rated fighter at the time” when he was defeated by Lambert. Well, if he was a highly-rated fighter then, why would he be now after he beat David Heath? Hey, I was all for Babalu being let go after that fight but he still won it. Why is he no longer a top light heavyweight? Because he’s not in the UFC? Was Rogan told to phrase it that way or was he simply calling it like he sees it?


  • Gabber says:


    You’re way off base with the “NFL, NBA, MLB wouldn’t do this…” arguement. I remember last year, heading into the playoffs, people were going crazy with SD heading into the playoffs. 14-2, the biggest contributing factor was apparently Shawn Merriman. I even remember ESPN talking about how impressive his season would have been if he would have been able to play a whole year, but man, he had 12 sacks is 12 games!!

    Yeah, cause he was suspended for performance enhancing substances. They never mentioned that the whole time, but I have to agree that it was much of the same from UFC 80 with the Sherk situation.

    I can’t believe all the people are capable of ignoring the giant pink elephant in the room….

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Gabber, you’re wrong. Merriman’s absence was discussed openly on many sports telecasts that I watched. When he returned to the lineup it was addressed why he was out. The announcers specifically talked about his testing positive. Now, I can’t account for every single telecast in which Merriman’s name was brought up, but they didn’t talk about the reason for his absence in vague terms upon his return, which is what they did for Sherk.

    I specifically remember an interview that Merriman did on ESPNews and he was asked about the positive test point blank.

  • Donk says:

    The UFC is definately a world beater when it comes to the strength of their brand and their stable of fighters. However from such a high position you would expect them to be well above average in many fundamental areas, but in my opinion they are consistently underwhelming in terms of their production, commentary and fighter advertising. As most good mma highlight makers will tell you it’s great to work with footage from japan, the reason being is that the camera angles are spectacular and the production is absolutely top notch. But you just don’t get good camera angles from the UFC’s or a good show outside of the ring. The strength of a UFC show is just on the fights themselves. But if the UFC consistently fails to hype their fighters like they have done with Werdum in 80 and many others (they didn’t even hype the Liddell Silva match well), they will have big names with no pulling power. How such a big business continues to be underwhelming outside the cage is a real mystery to me, they should be so much more with their resources, brand power and money.

  • Zack says:

    Great write-up Sam. I agree with pretty much everything.

    Who is the bigger disappointment at this stage – Grove or Gonzaga?

    Grove – 6 months ago I thought Grove was on his way to becoming a dynamic MW who would contend in ’09. I think the Cote fight was a matter of getting caught, but Rivera manhandled him. He needs to focus on getting stronger and add some mass to that lanky frame. I’m still a fan, but he needs to re-dedicate.

    Gonz – I think we saw his two flaws: his hands and his heart. For now (at least), he’s a frontrunner who can’t hang when he’s challenged. His boxing looked really poor against Werdum, and without watching the fight again, I think Werdum set up the knees in the clinch by tagging Gonz on the chin several times – Gonz looked like he lost all his will to fight. Unlike some others, I think he looked pretty damn good against Randy until Randy put him against the cage and dirty boxed him. I hope he works on his non-kicking standup. I don’t know how you develop the ability to overcome adversity. I don’t think it was lack of cardio that got him – I think he lost his confidence once he lost the hands exchanges with Werdum.

  • ufcfan says:

    great wrap up as usual.

    – yes rogan and goldberg are capable of some weird statements from time to time but when i look at elite xc = bill goldberg it makes me feel a lot better
    – one thing i do love about rogan is his passion for the sport, he LOVES
    mma which makes it more exciting

    – penn vs sherk is gonna be so exciting for the bad blood alone,
    everyone always talks about penn’s cardio but it really will be essential in this fight…we all know sherk’s gameplan take him down, lay on the top, throw the occasional punch

    sherk doesn’t finish fights as florian so eloquently pointed out back at ufc 73. bj penn has sick takedown defense and i am so impressed by his hands…he dropped stevenson three times in the fight…its penn’s fight to lose

    – werdum should not be given a shot. but that’s how weak the division is right now. sad…

  • pr0cs says:

    I’m not a big fan of Sherk’s fighting style but I think everyone is either grossly overrating Penn or heavily underrating Sherk.
    I think if the fight goes past the 3rd round Penn will be in the deep waters where Sherk thrives and I expect Sherk to grind out a decision as he always does.

    I *really* hate the notion of Penn leaving the LW division to challenge GSP (assuming GSP can beat Serra). There are simply too many exciting fighters int he LW division that deserve a shot at the title before Penn can sucessfully say “I want to have 2 titles”.
    the list goes an easy year (in my opinion) worth of compelling matches.

    No fighter should be talking about “moving up/down” until there simply isn’t anyone left.

    The only UFC fighter I could even see moving is Silva and that is assuming he can make it past Hendo.

  • Jay says:

    regarding rogan’s comment about babalu. babalu recently said something like “it’s nice to be interviewed by a fighter and not by an asshole like joe rogan” when rator rob was interviewing him at the ring of fire event. i think joe might got ahold of that.


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