Welcome to the UFC 92 edition of “Postcard from the Couch.”
I’ve wised up since beginning this column not too long ago. The UFC, regardless of what their competitors (or lack thereof) do, is going to do what they do, the way they want to do it, and when they want to do it, end of story.
Is this a bad thing? No, because the UFC and Zuffa do a fine job of producing their televised events as they are.
However, this won’t stop me from offering my opinions on what I think they could do if they chose to tweak things here and there.
If the UFC and Zuffa wanted a platform to make some tweaks to their televised shows, especially their pay per views, UFC 92 would be the perfect fit. It’s the biggest show of the year and has three main-event caliber fights on the card.
It’s time to break down UFC 92 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in quiet, boring, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan were calling the action as usual. And I have to say; this may have been their best work in 2008.
I’ve always believed that Goldberg’s job was to set up Rogan, plain and simple. Tonight, he did it well. My past criticisms of Goldberg usually come when he talks too much and becomes more analyst than blow-by-blow man. The analyzing is Rogan’s job – and tonight, he served up an A-plus effort.
Rogan was absolutely on-point, doing a fantastic job of providing not only stellar, in-depth MMA analysis, but slickly inserted humorous comments, none of which took anything away from the telecast.
Before Cheick Kongo destroyed Mustapha Al-Turk, Rogan foreshadowed, saying, “He’s (Kongo) an attractive challenger if he wins tonight…especially if he wins in spectacular fashion.” Only time will tell if Kongo gets the Frank Mir – Brock Lesnar rematch winner, but Rogan was spot on. By the way, I’d never used the term “spot on” until I watched Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen with world-famous chef Gordon Ramsay. Feel free to use it, free of charge.
During the fight, Al-Turk accidentally kneed Kongo’s Kongos. Kongo later responded with a not-so-accidental kneeing of Al-Turk’s Turks, prompting Rogan to state, “I’ve seen more guys get hit in the balls…(than) in any other sport in real life.” Rogan says what John Madden wishes he could have said during his heyday: “Boom! He tackled him helmet-first, right in the balls! Boom!”
Rogan’s description and analysis of how Quinton Jackson turned his life around before his rubber match with Wanderlei Silva may have seemed like slight overkill at first. But Rogan clearly did his homework, saying, “This is a different ‘Rampage’…very important to point out.” Rogan went out on a limb, knowing Jackson had been dominated twice by Silva. And like the Kongo fight, was spot on.
From a pure humor point of view, Rogan, when recognizing that Matt Hamill’s corner man was giving him profanity-laced instructions during his fight with Reese Andy, said, “This guy’s been taking lessons from Dana White.” Obviously, Hamill, who is deaf and can read lips, got the entire message, winning by TKO in the second round.
During Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s walk to the octagon to face Mir, I stated to my friends how boring Nog’s choice of The Rolling Stones was as entrance music. Rogan, on the other hand, said, “Man, it’s hard to root against a dude who comes in to The Stones.” Well, if you put it that way.
Then Rogan, referring to Nogueira’s near-death experience as a child, added: “They didn’t think he was going to be able to walk again. Now he strangles people for a living.” “They didn’t think he’d bounce back from his torn ACL…now, he makes defenders not only miss, but piss themselves as well….BOOM!”
Goldberg and Rogan also did a very nice job of setting up the Mir – Nogueira fight by reminding viewers just how tough Nog is. Looking back, it made Mir’s stoppage of him even more shocking.
And wrapping up the Rogan love fest, he added this response when seeing that text voters had Forrest Griffin as a big favorite over Rashad Evans: “It’s a lot of Irish gambling money right there.” In other words, Rogan believed the fight was going to be closer than what those people thought. And again, he was spot on.
OVERALL PRODUCTION VALUE:
Aside from a couple of minor issues, the UFC-Zuffa turned in a typical, very solid performance.
Showing the intense weigh-in footage between Silva and Jackson at the top of the show was a good call in hyping up the grudge match, especially for those who had not seen the footage prior to the broadcast.
In the cutaways department, two stood out in my mind: the cutaway of a disappointed Chuck Liddell after Jackson’s KO of Silva and Lesnar’s “You’re next” reaction after Mir’s upset win. Good preparation by the crew and well-timed cutaways, indeed.
Regarding the Evans versus Griffin fight, knowledgeable fans are aware of the gold mine that is the light heavyweight division in the UFC – especially if Anderson Silva decides to return there. I would have liked to see the UFC-Zuffa take an ode from HBO’s boxing telecasts and break down the division, giving the viewers a list of top contenders and potential opponents to the winner of this fight.
There was very good use of the underutilized full-screen graphics before this fight though. As we saw in Griffin versus Jackson, Griffin’s leg kicks can be very effective. He’s also known for being a well-conditioned warrior who will fight into the later rounds. Both of these facts were supported by strong stats, one of which stated that Griffin “lands 72% of leg kicks per fight.” Another stat showed that Griffin’s strike attempts rise as the fight progresses.
With Evans, we learned that in his 18-fight UFC career, he had never attempted a submission. We also learned that Evans, an accomplished wrestler, is successful on 60% of his takedown attempts, with Goldberg adding in that the UFC average is just 45%.
It often boggles my mind at how easy it would be to insert these simple, well-researched graphics for every bout. I get it – the UFC saves them for their main events to give those fights a “main event” kind of feel. But UFC fans aren’t stupid; they know a main event fight from a preliminary fight. So why not utilize these graphics for every televised fight? Rather than choosing to “enhance” one fight, it would enhance the production of them all, even if only by a slight margin. My wish would be to replace the “three-fact bullet point” graphics for non-main event fighters with the full-page ones. Ahhh, one can only dream.
While the replay of Al-Turk kneeing Kongo in the Kongos was slightly botched, the top-notch audio picking up Kongo’s elbows and hammer fists while ambushing Al-Turk’s face was outstanding, especially if you had the luxury of hearing it in surround-sound like I did. It sounded like a young Michael Myers killing his sister all over again in Halloween. Not that I’m bragging. Fact is, I’m extremely handsome and also own a 42-inch flat screen HDTV with a home theater system. Sue me.
On a more negative note, during Rogan’s preview of the Mir – Nogueira fight, footage of the UFC Undisputed video game was abruptly rolled in without any set up, which caused a bit of awkwardness within Rogan’s analysis. It was a minor glitch, but it threw Rogan off slightly and prevented the video game from getting the proper plug they had probably scripted. On a side note, the game looks freakin’ awesome….BOOM!
My Bloody Valentine? In 3D????????
I know I’m being incredibly nitpicky and that advertising money talks, but here we are watching the UFC event of the year, and all of a sudden we’re treated to a useless preview of a useless remake of a 1981 slasher flick? Making it even worse was the fact that the production crew botched the roll-in of the clip by letting what is sometimes known as the “slate” (graphic) appear on-air before the clip rolled. I would have preferred that the UFC-Zuffa figure out another way to use this airtime…like, for example, with some of my suggestions you’ll read below.
PACING & PACKAGES:
I loved having the Jackson vs. Silva fight as the second fight of the night. To the viewer, it immediately hammered home just how big of a card this was, especially because this fight alone would headline most UFC pay per views. Otherwise, I felt that the solid pacing was along the lines of most UFC telecasts.
The UFC-Zuffa also deserves props for producing main-event caliber pre-fight packages before the Jackson – Silva, Mir – Nogueira and Evans – Griffin fights. Like the full-page graphics, I wish they’d enhance their production and do this for all televised bouts.
— Who doesn’t love Wanderlei Silva when he graciously attempts to conquer the English language? Some Wanderlei-isms from the broadcast:
“I want to knock out him” or “I’m going to beat him this time…again.”
— The set up of the Silva – Jackson rubber match, at both the beginning of the show and right before the fight, was a solid example of the UFC making good use of their rights to the Pride FC video library.
— C.B. Dollaway’s after-party plea during his post-fight interview didn’t exactly make me want to party. It made me want milk and cookies.
— What’s Junie Browning think about Frank Mir now?
— How classy is Griffin? During the fight, Evans blew a kiss at him and then grabbed his Rashads (as if he were inviting Griffin to kiss those too). Then Evans destroyed Griffin and took his light heavyweight belt. Yet Griffin greets Evans after the fight as if they’re buddies, like McCartney and M.J. in the Ebony and Ivory video. Athletes in this sport get what sportsmanship is about. Too bad some athletes in other sports often don’t.
THE FINAL WORD:
You really can’t complain about not getting your money’s worth with UFC 92. We saw three main-event caliber fights, and regardless of whether you saw those fights as upsets, one word can be used to describe their outcomes: stunning.
Jackson’s left hook knocking Silva flat out…Mir crushing Big ‘Nog…Evans teeing off on Griffin? Those weren’t just victories – they were victories with a BOOM!
Since it’s the last major card of 2008 and the holiday season, here’s what I would I wish I could have seen from UFC 92:
— This is the biggest card of the year – “The Ultimate 2008” – so how about a Year In Review package? I think this would have worked as a rollout during the credits that Goldberg could have tossed to while wrapping up the telecast. Think One Shining Moment montage/NCAA March Madness on CBS.
— I enjoyed the pre-fight packages before the big-three fights, but here’s a wish list of packages I would have liked to have seen inserted before some of the other fights:
— Why not a package featuring highlights from the top five fights of 2008? This could have been something that UFC fans could have voted on at www.UFC.com for two weeks (or more) prior to the telecast, with the results being revealed during the package.
— The same online voting concept could have been applied to other packages that could have been interspersed throughout the telecast: Newcomer of the Year, Fighter of the Year, Top Five Knockouts of 2008 and Top Five Submissions of 2008. If nothing else, these ideas could have been used for an end-of-the-year special on Spike TV.
It’s easy for me to wish, wish, wish. But in reality, there’s only so much non-fight airtime to insert these packages into. So, what would I have done?
Personally, I would have eliminated the Octagon walks for the non big-three fights and replaced them with these packages, mainly because they’re more entertaining and would have provided a faster pace to the telecast.
Again, these are just wishes, most of which I don’t expect to see anytime soon on a UFC-Zuffa telecast. There’s a better chance that my other wish – re-enacting the “scene” from Monster’s Ball with Halle Berry – will happen before those do. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. The fights lived up to the hype, and Goldberg and especially Rogan were on top of their game.