Welcome to the third edition of The Duel. With a lot to discuss coming off the of the very entertaining UFC 83 card I’m joined by two Duel newcomers. On one side is it our L. Ron Hubbard, founder and main writer Sam Caplan. Opposing him this week is fellow 5 Oz All-Star staffer Mr. Sam Cupitt. One of you really needs to change your name or I don’t know that we can do this again.
1. UFC 83 was the most entertaining card of the year so far.
Caplan: FALSE. No way. UFC 83 was a good card but it fell way short of being great. If there hadn’t been a grudge match feel to the main event between St. Pierre and Serra, I would go so far as to say it might have even been a bad card. I’d have to say, out of all the UFC cards thus far this year, UFC 83 ranks closer to the bottom. I thought UFC 82 and UFC 81 were easily much better and I would even consider the most recent UFC Fight Night to be more entertaining.
Cupitt: TRUE. If by entertaining you mean exciting fight after exciting fight then I would have to say UFC 81 is so far the most entertaining card of 2008. However, UFC 83 provided a lot of extra substance to me that made the whole thing more enjoyable than all other cards this year. In every fight there was something that made me want to watch it, even if it wasn’t the most technical or exciting fight. I thought the Danzig bout was a very entertaining fight and should have won fight of the night. The knee that Danzig threw like an uppercut which knocked Bocek down made the fight worth while by itself but it was backed up by some great grappling and striking exchanges. Bisping’s pre fight comments about McCarthy being a can was just priceless and had me laughing all the way through the fight. Starnes/Quarry could have ruined the card if it wasn’t for the previously undiscovered comic genius of Quarry. There’s something about Starnes getting mocked mercilessly that I found, somewhat sadistically, very entertaining. The Franklin/Lutter fight was built very well. The fight really felt like it had huge implications on their respective careers and the momentum changes in the fight really had me going. Finally, the main event, although a one-sided affair, I still felt entertained because a grudge had been settled. So far this year, the vast majority of cards have been headlined by fighters who showed nothing but respect for their opponents, which is fine but sometimes you just want a bit of dirt. “Frenchiegate” really provided that edge for me that I had been missing this year.
My Five Cents: I found it incredibly entertaining. Had a beatdown, a comedy match, great trashtalk, a grudge match, and people getting what was coming to them. Though to Sam’s credit I did forget how much fun UFC 81 was.
2. The only logical bouts to make now are GSP vs Fitch and Serra vs Hughes.
Caplan: TRUE. Thiago Alves is the biggest X-factor in the UFC’s middleweight division. Maybe you could do GSP vs. Alves or Serra vs. Alves, but who really wants to see those matchups? I’m sure some people do, but the masses want to see GSP vs. Fitch and Hughes vs. Serra. Fitch is the number one contender for the welterweight title and has been in that spot for quite some time. To allow someone to leap frog him at this point would be criminal. And Hughes vs. Serra is just too entertaining of a feud not to have a payoff for. If it doesn’t happen soon, then you run into a situation of it never happening. It’s the kind of fight that could draw an absolute huge rating on Spike TV (Bad Blood II anyone?) or do quite well as a number two match on a PPV (a co-main event of GSP vs. Fitch and Serra vs. Hughes on the same card in September?).
Cupitt: TRUE. I’m a big fan of Matt Serra but the UFC really has to put him in with Hughes next because they can’t run the risk of putting Serra in with another welterweight as the risk of him losing is too great. The marketing has already been put into place and the stars have aligned correctly so that all the fights in the Hughes/GSP/Serra trilogy could play out so now its time to just set the date. In regards to GSP vs. Fitch, there is no other fight that makes more sense than that match-up. GSP beat down Serra so there’s no need for a rubber match. Parisyan lost to Alves knocking him out of title contention. Alves has lost to Fitch and Fitch is undefeated in 8 Octagon appearances. Caplan has made it too hard for me to smack talk him so far due to his opinions lacking outrageousness. If he doesn’t start being more outrageous I’ll have to make a pun about his name…
My Five Cents: That’s exactly what they should do and that is exactly what they will do. Maybe let Karo fight Alves again just to see what his excuse would be after he lost that one too.
3. Not showing another unaired two minute prelim with 70 minutes left of PPV time is ridiculous for $45.
Caplan: TRUE. I bailed immediately after the GSP vs. Serra match because I had to get right to work. But if you’re telling me that nothing else aired beyond Hironaka vs. Goulet and there was still 70 minutes left, then I think that is wrong. I understand the UFC’s position that the prelims are primarily for the live audience, but if you ask the consumer to pay more for your product then I think it’s only fair to go out of your way to make sure they get additional value. The only reason why I can think that they decided not to air more prelims is because it might take away from their “UFC on Demand” business. If that’s the case, then that’s just plain wrong.
Cupitt: TRUE. Well Craplan you failed to outrage me. We really are a fickle bunch. We seem to have forgotten that we got all but one of the fights on both UFC 80 and UFC 81. However, if there is time left after the main card is finished, the UFC management should reward the viewers who forked out the money with as many unaired prelims as they can in the time remaining. Do we really need to see the undercard fighters’ ring entrances or post-fight interviews? It’s just aggravating to know that there’s half an hour left to go on the 3-hour PPV and the show is rolling credits. Why can’t the UFC just give a quick highlight rundown of the undercard fights? If the viewer likes what they see, won’t that entice them to purchase them via “UFC on Demand”? On a semi-related note, I’m sure this question was set-up because Huckaby is pissed that he didn’t get to see Cain Velasquez destroy my fellow Australian. I’m more pissed off at the fact I had to watch Jonathan Goulet. Who the hell had the idea to show that fight? I know the UFC management deemed it “Fight of the Night” but come on! The UFC could have given FOTN to Danzig and Bocek and no one would have blinked an eye but instead they gave us this sloppy striking match between two low-level UFC welterweights who won’t ever surpass gatekeeper level.
My Five Cents: It’s not even that they don’t take up the full four hours, fine, take up the three. But atleast if there is extra time left in the three throw something else on there, especially with a couple of first round stoppages. And fine Cupitt, yes, I wanted to see my boy Velasquez. If you’re going to call me out you could atleast have the decency to be wrong.
4. At some point in his career Rich Franklin will again fight Anderson Silva.
Cupitt: FALSE. The only way I see Rich Franklin getting another fight with Anderson Silva is if he runs through the rest of the middleweight division (especially Henderson and Marquardt) and then they dub the event UFC 95: Last Stand. Any fight can be sold if it has a story behind it. Look at Ortiz/Shamrock 3. There was absolutely no need for that fight, but because there was bad blood and a premature stoppage in the second fight, the third fight still drew a record amount of viewers. For there to be a third Silva/Franklin fight then they’d need a new story. They’ve already used up “former champion climbs back up the ladder and takes on the guy who destroyed him in his home town” so now they need a new one. The only other story I can think of is “An aging former champion has proved he is the best of the rest. Now on the eve of retirement he steps up again to try and prove he is the best 185 lber in the world in his Last Stand.” That to me is the only situation in which we would see a trilogy. Or you know… Franklin could go and beat Roy Jones Jr. in a boxing match.
Caplan: FALSE. Or, should I say, “Awww hell no!.” And Sam, Franklin might get a shot if he runs through the middleweight division? With the exception of Silva and Henderson , he’s already run through it! There’s no reason for the two to fight ever again. It’s not like you can point to some excuse to justify the rematch. The losses that Franklin sustained were clear and decisive. The ref wasn’t a factor, unlike Shamrock vs. Ortiz II. Okay, the ref really wasn’t a factor in that fight but at least there was something to work with. There’s nothing to work with here. St. Pierre got a second shot at Hughes by working his way up the ladder again, but at least they could sell the audience on the fact that GSP hadn’t peaked yet. As much as I like Franklin as a fighter, what you see is pretty much what you’re going to get. Maybe he’ll make some slight improvements, but we’re not going to see him evolve into a completely new fighter that suddenly has an answer for Silva. It’s simple; the UFC will have to keep finding intriguing names for Franklin to fight (Dan Henderson anyway?) and have him waiting in the wings for the day Silva is no longer champion so that Franklin can immediately jump back into the title picture.
My Five Cents: When discussing Silva/Franklin I always retell this story. I picked Franklin in the first bout and I’m sitting there watching as the pre-fight trash talk clips come up. Franklin said something along the lines of, “Plan A is to stand with him. If that’s not working I’ll go to Plan B.” At that point intense depression filled me as I realized he was going to get knocked out. Why can’t they show those things before the show?
5. There had to be something wrong with Kalib Starnes that we’re unaware of.
Cupitt: FALSE. Starnes has mentioned recently that the fight with Quarry was very big for him as he needed the win to keep him in the UFC and able to keep feeding his family and what have you. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. I believe Starnes went into the fight with the gameplan to counter punch and to avoid the heavy hands of Quarry. However Quarry was looking very dangerous and Starnes didn’t want to open up and risk getting caught. That was probably why he looked so bad in the first round but for the other two rounds I think another story started to take place. Ever since the third season of the Ultimate Fighter the MMA public have been questioning Starnes’ heart. Many people are of the opinion Starnes could have continued against Kendall Grove, that he gave up in his fight against Okami and that he encouraged the doctor to stop his fight with Belcher. This really pisses Kalib Starnes off. I don’t want to be an armchair psychologist but I believe when the home crowd started turning on Starnes and demanding that he improve his performance he simply became fed up with wanting to please them. I think he sacrificed the fight to try and get one over the crowd. Seems like a pretty crazy idea but from the way he was moving… he didn’t look injured. PS – Nate Quarry is a funny, funny man.
Caplan: TRUE. Nobody agrees to sign for a fight and then actually decides not to fight unless there’s more than meets the eye. As I write this there were rumblings that Starnes’ performance on Saturday was deliberate and that he was protesting the UFC’s failure to pay his medical bills. I don’t know if there’s any truth to those rumblings, but if they are then Starnes should never be allowed to compete in MMA again because it will mean he basically decided to throw the fight vs. Nate Quarry. Someone tanking a fight out of protest is different than someone taking a dive because he’s been bought. However, if he fought with the intent to lose then he still threw the fight. If Starnes has a beef with fighter pay or how the UFC treated him, by all means, find a forum to speak out and state your gripe. But to throw a fight? How does that look to all the fans who paid good money to see the fight at the Bell Centre or PPV only to see a guy refuse to fight? It’s not fair for him to protest at our expense. There are plenty of media outlets that exist for him to say what’s on his minds. And if he was injured, that’s still no excuse for not going out in the third round and going for broke. Have some pride. Honestly, I can’t really fathom a legitimate excuse for the performance Starnes subjected us all to.
My Five Cents: Ohhh Caplan has gossip. You cad. And I agree with him, something was up. If that was his gameplan you’d think we would have seen a fight or two play out like that some other time in 15 years.
6. We’ll make it to July with the Affliction card just as good on paper as they’re hyping now.
Cupitt: FALSE. I’ll start by saying it would be pretty damn awesome if that was the case. However I’m a bit unsure about the whole thing. For starters, the amount of money they will be spending on the fighters rumored to be participating (Fedor, Sylvia, Arlovski, Barnett, Lindland, Babalu etc.) will be insane. Affliction has apparently met Fedor’s crazy two million dollar price tag and you would have to expect Sylvia to be getting a few hundred thousand dollars. Same goes with Arlovski and Barnett. On top of that, they won’t really make much money back. Sure they’ll probably sell out the Airlines Arena in Texas but they will do very little numbers on PPV, if they choose to go that way. If they are thinking of sticking around long term they will have to put on a number of shows to build up a following and burning that much money on fighter pay with no financial return just seems implausible to me. Also, Andrei Arlovski being linked to this card seems a bit strange to me as well. The UFC has Arlovski under wraps, negotiation-wise, for the time being and so the idea of Arlovski looking at offers from a rival organization during this time seems a little too unlikely considering how “sue happy” the UFC is currently. From the moment I read this card I got the feeling it was someone just playing fantasy matchmaker. I would like to believe that this card will become reality, but I just don’t see it happening.
Caplan: TRUE. If the rumored card becomes official, it’s guaranteed to be a great show. And with the numbers I am hearing rumored in regards to salary, I don’t see why they won’t get the names they are going after. As far as Arlovski, Sam, don’t underestimate the power of back-channel communications. Legally nobody else can extend a formal offer to Arlovski, but I guarantee you his management somehow knows what Affliction is willing to pay him. Once he legally becomes an unrestricted free agent, I expect a deal to get done with the quickness. I also agree that Affliction’s business plan seems kind of suspect but the word I keep hearing is they are okay with the idea of losing money because they want to promote their clothing brand. Well, wasn’t Bodog willing to lose money on MMA because it was going to promote the “Bodog lifestyle?” But our questions about the long-term viability of the promotion are irrelevant because Huck’s question is about the short-term. And Affliction’s new MMA promotion should be fun while it lasts.
My Five Cents: Now that I think about it maybe it would be possible if they’re using names like Arlovski, Sylvia, Fedor, and in the future, Randy Couture. Those names sell PPVs. Those names sell really expensive tickets. They’ll no doubt lose money here but if their marketing machine can work quickly that could change with massive names. Bodog came small and went home, atleast Affliction will come big.
That wraps up this week’s DUEL. Remember to vote on the left side of the screen for the person you think made the best arguments (ie agreed with you most). Sam Caplan or Sam Cupitt.