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In terms of quality, UFC 91 one of the promotion’s best cards

As far as feeling satisfied following a major mixed martial arts pay-per-view, I don’t think it’s possible for me to have walked away from last night’s UFC 91 card with a better feeling.

As a promotion, the UFC was clicking on all cylinders. We received the following: a much-anticipated main event from two larger-than-life stars that delivered; conclusive finishes to all fights shown without the slightest hint of controversy; a well-paced show that allowed for eight fights to make the broadcast; and one of the best performances from the commentary team of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan in recent memory.

If the mainstream hype of UFC 91 brought first-time viewers to the table last night, then the event had to have left them with a positive impression of mixed martial arts. Having a main event that delivered was a huge step to ensuring that everyone watching in attendance or at home on pay-per-view walked away happy.

The fact that the outcome of Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar was controversy free was a a major relief. The timing in which referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight was somewhat anti-climatic considering the punches at the end didn’t appear anywhere near as vicious as the ones Lesnar delivered when the two first hit the ground. However, it wasn’t an early stoppage and if anything, I felt Yamasaki may have allowed the fight to go on a little long. Any doubt anyone might have had about the stoppage was erased after Couture was shown still laying on the ground following the stoppage.

It was just nice to know that the sport was on top of its game for a fight card that was widely viewed by a great deal of people. I’m not exactly sure how many watched last night, but I am convinced that it was a lot of people.

The media attention this past week that led up to the event was nothing short of outstanding. I read a lot of complaints in recent weeks in regards to the lack of promotional push that UFC 91 was receiving. While those complaints might have been valid a few weeks ago, I don’t see how anyone can complain about the momentum we saw build this past week. While far from scientific, I believe that the pre-fight mainstream attention that UFC 91 garnered easily surprassed the amount UFC 71 received.

When the final buyrate number comes in for UFC 91 I am sure there will be those that will ask whether it could have been even higher had the major promotional push lasted two-to-three weeks instead of just one but I’m not sure. I’ve talked to several promoters in recent months about why they wait until the week of an event to make their big pitch and the answer I kept hearing was that they felt to do the big push before would be a waste.

The general consensus amongst the promoters I’ve spoken to is that most viewers of MMA are of the casual ilk and they aren’t going to decide weeks in advance whether they are going to watch an event. When it comes to watching fights, people usually wait to make their final plans. I’m not saying I agree with that logic, rather I am simply trying to explain why we’re seeing a growing trend of late promotion for events.

But the media push was so strong in this case that there was some concern about whether the fight could live up to its billing. While Couture vs. Lesnar certainly wasn’t a fight of the year candidate, it most definitely delivered. It wasn’t a first round cake walk; the fight went past the first round and there were back and forth exchanges. It felt like as big of a deal as we all thought it would be.

Production wise, the show was solid. I’m not always impressed with what the UFC does production-wise because I’ve seen other MMA productions from a behind-the-scenes perspective and based on the UFC’s end product, I just don’t believe they put in the same effort. There are times that I feel that the UFC knows they have you hooked so they are only going to go far in terms of what they give you production-wise.

However, I found no fault with last night’s show and the UFC has never had a broadcast that took away from the fights. My issue is that while I am sure the UFC production team certainly cares about the quality of its work, I’d like to see them go the extra mile and most importantly, for the broadcast to evolve. If you watch a DVD from four years ago, it isn’t going to look much different from what you see today. Some people like consistency but I believe that no one should ever be satisfied with their work.

Adding to the quality of last night’s production was the solid effort exhibited by both Goldberg and Rogan. I’ve been critical at times of Goldberg but it’s important to note that I think he’s a good broadcaster and he’s does a good job. But that’s part of the problem I have with him — he’s nothing more than good.

I feel like the UFC is the top promotion in the world and it should have the top play-by-play announcer in the world. Goldberg is good at his craft, but he’s not the best. I do believe that Goldberg was just better than good last night. There are times when I feel he’s a step behind the action or says something ill-advised when he tries to force things, but Goldberg’s timing was on last night and he was a little sharper than usual in his observations.

The thing that you get with Rogan is consistency. There really isn’t any sort of dropoff or increase in his performance from show-to-show. I also appreciate the insight he brings to the table with his vast grappling experience and can appreciate that he doesn’t try to promote that experience on the telecast.

Unless you’re a hardcore fan, you aren’t really aware that Rogan is an accomplished martial artist. To a casual fan, he comes across like just a regular broadcast who knows his stuff. It’s to a point now with Rogan that while I am watching a UFC telecast that I completely forget that he’s a comedian or the same guy who was on “News Radio” or hosted “Fear Factor.”

The biggest relief of all was the overall quality of the show. Many pundits expressed a belief that UFC 91 was relying too heavily on the Lesnar vs. Couture matchup. However, there wasn’t a bad fight on the card and we got to see some very exciting finishes to the fights that preceeded the main event.

The pacing of the show was good enough that a total of eight of nine fights on the card were broadcast and getting to see the big uppercut by Jeremy Stephens and the “Fight of the Night” between Jorge Gurgel and Aaron Riley was something that I could appreciate coming from a consumer-perspective.

I’m just one fan, but for what it’s worth, I felt that UFC 91 was one of the best UFC events I’ve ever watched.

27 COMMENTS
  • RUSH says:

    Agreed! Was worth every penny of the $60 for the HD broadcast!

  • RUSH says:

    Agreed! Was worth every penny of the $60 for the HD broadcast! First time I’ve felt that since UFC 84

  • brian says:

    sam, actually all nine fights were able to make it to the ppv last night. I watched it on dish network, but all nine fights were televised.

  • Grappo says:

    I agree, it was a solid broadcast all the way through. Awesome submissions, vicious knockouts, no drama, and a decent pace. I thought they aired all 9 fights though. Looking at the list on Wiki, I saw 9.

  • ACK! says:

    I saw all nine fights… Robison v. Bocek was at the tail end, after Gurgel v. Riley.

    But I agree that it was a great show all around. Just goes to show that you can’t judge these things by how they look on paper, especially when you have a group of hungry fighters itching to display their skills. I was extremely pleased with my purchase (not that I ever regret it).

  • banter says:

    “Goldberg is good at his craft, but he’s not the best. ”

    Who’s better?

  • Robert says:

    banter are you kidding asking that question?

  • banter says:

    No I am no tkidding. I am asking who he thinks is better.

  • banter says:

    And for the record I am impartial to Goldberg as well. He is ok but not horrible but they could use someone better. I am just not sure who is better. Its a weak area in MMA Yet he is far better than Quadros and Ranallo

  • demonianray says:

    They broadcasted the whole pay-per-view, i think that’s the first time I’ve seen that

  • Jeremy says:

    Very, very enjoyable show last night. I watched it with some people who had never watched a live UFC PPV before and they walked away very entertained and pleased with the whole thing. Great job by the UFC last night!!!

  • Evadmils says:

    RUSH what cable provider do you have, and where are you? My friends and I bitch every month about the fact that they don’t offer the UFCs in HD in our area.

    +1 on the article tho, I completely agree.

  • detroit_fan says:

    Evadmils- get directv. they have the hd for $55 everytime.

  • Austin says:

    I like kenny rice better :V

  • JOe K. says:

    I saw all nine fights as well. That is definitely the first time I have seen that. They should do that every event!

    They could build bigger stars if they showed the Pre-Lims. Jon Fitch’s criticisms of the UFC was that even though he had 8 straight wins not many people knew who he was because so many of his fights were on the undercard.

  • RUSH says:

    Evadmils – This was through Eastlink Digital cable in Canada $54.95 + TAX

  • roomservicetaco says:

    Who’s better than Goldberg? Three off the top of my head:

    1. Steven Quadros (Pride, et al)
    2. Todd Harris (WEC)
    3. Gus Johnson (EXC)

    Quadros knows more than Goldberg ever will about MMA and also brings the approriate amount of hype, set-up for color man, and smooth broadcasting. Harris is generic sports announcer guy, but also expresses more knowledge of MMA and does all the things Goldie is supposedly “smooth” at like transitions and sponsor announcements, but does them without resorting to hype-man-announcer voice. Gus is the best at everything…there is no sporting event that isn’t raised a level by having him announce it.

  • banter says:

    Quadros is way to generic and he always sounds like he is reading from a prepared statement.

  • Carm says:

    Pay Randy Couture the big bucks and and replace Goldberg. Poor Joe Rogans eyes are going to stay that way from rolling in the back of his head from the dorky comments Goldberg makes

  • Jeffrey says:

    I disagree that Grugel Riley was fight of the night. It was was exciting in the exchanges, but Grugel’s kickboxing technique was so poor that a betterstriker would have knocked him out in the first round. While he was aggressive, his chin was exposed for a long time while he kept throwing hook after hook.

    My fight of the night was Hazlet vs McCurry. Good, solid striking with one hell of a submission.

    I’ve never seen so many omoplata attempts on one card. It was awesome!! 91 certain lived up to the hype. Its right up there with UFC 87

  • Jeffrey says:

    As far as UFC promotion goes, its by far the best. I love Rogan, he is the #1 MMA commentator. He is funny and very insightful. As fighting becomes more and more complex, he is right on top of the technical aspects. As someone who grapples, I like that he doesnt water it down.

    As far as the production goes, the UFC has gotten it right. Its all about the fighters. They give a nice bio before the fight and don’t distract from the fights. If you want more there is always the internet. Just look at CBS to see how not to do it. But the number 1 reason the UFC is the best show is because the have the best fighters. Their depth is unreal. Fighters that get cut from the UFC challenge for other promotions belts. That says it all.

  • Mike says:

    I was actually not that impressed with this PPV. Partly because I was pissed off in the first place that Lesnar got a title shot. As champion and living legend, Couture should have been able to see tons of footage of his opponent, but that was not possible here.

    Seeing Gurgel fumble and fail to fight the way god intended was not that interesting to me. It was enteraining viscerally, but anyone who knows anything about the sport saw that fight as yet another instance of Jorge being stupid, ignoring his best skills, and then the fight becomes a test to see how well he will lose. That guy should try to win. And by that I mean, he should try try making use of his black belt.

    Overall, the fights were entertaining, but the card was underwhelming. I think the UFC needed to get more names on the card.

  • Evadmils says:

    “and then the fight becomes a test to see how well he will lose”

    +1 on that Mike

  • Robert says:

    Jeffrey how old are you 13? It’s not Grugel or McCurry, and “their production is right it’s all about the fighters” ? It’s the complete opposite it’s all about the brand name they have said this themselves that’s why they don’t care if guys like Arlovski,Ortiz, and Sylvia leave or if they sign the best fighter in the world ,also their not going to give fight of the night to one that lasted 3 minutes.

  • Jye says:

    Mike if you weren’t interested by that PPV than you should really find another sport cause I don’t think your into this one that much.

  • MMAStation says:

    This card didnt look so great on paper but as usual some of their worst looking cards on paper end up being the best ones in the cage.

  • king mah mah says:

    great card, I too liked that I finally got ALL the fights on ppv. Made me feel the purchase was justified.

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