Photo by Sherdog.com
Sherdog’s Event of the Year
By Greg Savage ([email protected])
UFC 100 was a near consensus choice for the 2009 Sherdog Event of the Year.
It was a watershed moment for the sport that once faced a bevy of detractors and innumerable obstacles to broader acceptance. Though it still has a way to go before it is held in the same regard as other major sports, mixed martial arts was on display like never before the week of the July 11, 2009.
Mega-star UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar headlined the blockbuster show against interim champion Frank Mir. The centennial card also featured a highly anticipated matchup between welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre and top contender Thiago Alves as well as a blood feud pitting “The Ultimate Fighter” coaches Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping.
Lesnar unified the heavyweight title in vicious fashion, pounding Mir’s face into a swollen, bloody mess before sailing off into a pro wrestling-style invective directed at Mir, the fans who were booing him and the UFC’s top sponsor, Bud Light. The outburst earned him an earful from UFC President Dana White, who elicited an act of contrition from the former WWE star at the post-fight news conference. Lesnar apologized and blamed his tirade on adrenaline and promised he would do his best to control his emotions in the future.
In a co-main event, St. Pierre thoroughly dominated an extremely hot Alves, who was riding a seven-fight winning streak and coming off consecutive wins over Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes and Karo Parisyan. The Canadian superstar outwrestled and outstruck Alves before tearing an abductor muscle in the fourth round.
The injury did little to slow down St. Pierre. He finished the shutout in the final frame, but it did give MMA another memorable quote. Between rounds the champion’s trainer, Greg Jackson, answered his charge’s concern that he had pulled his groin: “I don’t care! Hit him with your groin.”
If there were a punctuation mark on UFC 100, it came when Henderson ended his rival coach’s night with a savage right hand that tucked Bisping in and the flying right hand that followed, making sure he slipped into complete unconsciousness.
In a strange coincidence, the three feature-bout winners have not been back to the Octagon since UFC 100. Lesnar underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow before being stricken by an intestinal illness that UFC boss Dana White has said could potentially end his career. St. Pierre needed some time to heal up from the injured groin and will return to action March 27 when he defends his belt against Dan Hardy at UFC 111.
Henderson seemed set to cash in after his highlight reel knockout, but he could not come to terms with White and the UFC. After a lengthy negotiation, the former Pride FC champ inked a deal with Strikeforce, where he anticipates making his promotional debut in April.
White also caused a stir when he said he would base jump off of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, the home of UFC 100, if the show pulled in more than 1.5 million pay-per-view buys. When estimated purchases reached the 1.7 million mark, White said he would indeed follow through with his end of the bargain. He has been training for the jump and assures Sherdog.com it will be happening soon.
The mainstream media coverage of UFC 100 was also an impressive sight to behold. Everywhere you looked, there were promos running for the company’s first triple digit event. From the overwhelming ESPN presence to the unprecedented print coverage the show received, UFC 100 was easily the most covered mixed martial arts show in the short history of the sport.
The UFC also held a fan expo that coincided with the historic fight card. The convention was an additional bonus for the thousands of fans who poured into Las Vegas for the fights and was such a success, the organization has planned another go around for the week of UFC 114 this May, also in Vegas.
The momentous nature of UFC 100 alone would have made it hard to top. When one also considers the quality of the main event fights and the indelible mark they left on the landscape of the 2009 MMA campaign, UFC 100 was clearly the event of the year.