Just My Thoughts: UFC 53

By Mike Sloan Jun 10, 2005
Las Vegas-based corporate machine Zuffa, LLC pulled off yet another solid event in their splendid Ultimate Fighting Championship series, an American mixed martial arts event that is about a city block away from becoming a mainstream attraction.

UFC 53: Heavy Hitters was yet another step in the right direction for Dana White and company — and it wasn’t just the fights that blueprinted the foundation of anticipation for Zuffa’s next outings.

Watching the pay-per-view event in the comfort of my own home (no, I didn’t feel like flying to New Jersey since my Sherdog.com salary allows me to only purchase PPV events and little else), I realized that Zuffa really has gotten their act together in terms of show production and marketing. While the broadcast team of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan is usually solid, it seems as though Zuffa has finally figured out how to properly run their events for the television audience.

I have been one of few critical writers on the MMA scene for quite some time as I have taken my jabs and hooks at Zuffa on countless occasions. But I do them for a few concrete reasons, I might add, and not to just sound like some bitter never-ending, squawking yell machine.

As a writer I feel it is my duty to not only scribe what really happens within the sport of MMA but to also express my opinions about topics that I either fully support or wholly disagree with. And I must say that I have been agreeing mostly with what White and his cohorts have been delivering to the public for quite some time now.

Zuffa has finally ridden themselves of the annoying glamour babes doing senseless post-fight interviews and have instead opted to keep someone who is both passionate and knowledgeable about the sport to accomplish the task — Rogan.

Mr. Fear Factor knows MMA and the fighters within our beloved sport and he asks the questions that should be asked. While I firmly believe that Stephen Quadros is the best at doing post-fight on-camera interviews, Rogan does a wonderful job nonetheless. It’s great to see and hear someone who has knowledge of what’s going on inside the Octagon asking the questions instead of some attractive model in who has no clue as to what an armbar is.

It was also pleasant that Rogan knew immediately that Justin Eilers blew his knee out. Had Rogan not pointed out exactly what had happened, most of us would have been in the dark as to what happened until actual reports surfaced. Too bad it had to happen to someone like Eilers, who was fighting his heart out, and not to one of the hoodlums who instigated that riot a few weeks back.

Goldberg is bar none the best play-by-play commentator in the sport solely on the facts that he has both a great speaking voice and years upon years of experience. His professionalism and comfort behind the microphone is evident of the fact that he is also a seasoned commentator in the National Hockey League (even though it appears that he is on permanent vacation from that field of employment).

It’s refreshing to hear Rogan and Goldberg react to each other’s quotes and their work makes me appreciate it that much more, especially after suffering through the endless drivel that comes out of Mauro Ranallo’s mouth during PRIDE broadcasts.

The same can be said about the horrible boxing team for ESPN pay-per-view telecasts. If anybody watched the Chavez/Chavez/Chavez card from the previous Saturday, you’ll know what I mean.

Another aspect of the show that Zuffa has finally tightened the bolts on is the lead-ins to the next UFC events. Granted, ads for the upcoming events have always been plastered all over the telecasts, but it was perfected on the last telecast. But to watch how the UFC broadcast team swiftly and eloquently segue random fight discussions into previews and announcements for what seems like 16 events in August alone makes the olden days of the UFC look oafish.

There really isn’t a whole heck of a lot of this-and-that that I would like to see changed during the live telecasts. Sure, more behind the scenes footage of the fighters before and after their fights would be nice, but I’d much rather watch more of the actual fights instead. Besides, even if I wasn’t able to experience that stuff anyway because I am a reporter, I’d just wait for the DVDs to come out. So with that said, I must commend Zuffa as a company for really doing things properly on TV.

Now, onto the fights and the fighters …

Congrats to my man Rich Franklin for not only winning the coveted middleweight crown from Evan Tanner but also for making me look good in the latest Great Sherdog Debate. It’s not every day that I can boast about thrashing my “boss” in a debate and bringing my record back up to .500, especially after the way Editor Gross dug into both myself and Greg Savage during the debate.

In keeping with Franklin, it’s good to see a guy as good-hearted as he to win the title. He trained harder than he’s ever trained before, survived a scare late in the first round and wound up dismantling the dangerous Tanner within the distance. Hell, he didn’t even look like one of the enemies from Resident Evil, either!

By fight’s end, Franklin was so dominant that Tanner’s face looked like he had been attacked by a frenzied pack of mako sharks. It’s just too bad that Tanner had to lose his title on his first defense. Almost no other fighter deserves it more than Tanner, but hey, those are the bumps in the roads we all must stumble over, right?

Franklin, I believe, is the first ever world champion in the sport of mixed martial arts who hails from Cincinnati. I wonder if my fortunes will be reversed this year and my beloved Bengals can replicate a similar feat of Franklin’s by the end of this upcoming football season. Yeah, right. The odds of me winding up in bed with Shakira are better than the Bengals becoming Super Bowl champs.

After Andrei Arlovski’s mugging of Justin Eilers, it makes me literally foam at the mouth while I anticipate his showdown with Frank Mir for the real UFC heavyweight belt.

It’s also pleasing to see Arlovski realize that his belt is basically meaningless (enough of this “interim” nonsense) and makes it known that Mir is the true champ. Hopefully these two superior fighters will lock horns at UFC 55 with the better man having his arm raised at the fight’s conclusion.

With that said, let’s hope that Santa Claus will bring us year-end gift of Mir-Arlovski winner versus Fedor-Cro Cop winner. Yeah, that’ll happen. What’s the name of that popular Aerosmith song again?

Oh, and in case you can’t already tell, both Nick Diaz and Forrest Griffin are going to be huge. Griffin has the whole package, from his fighting style to his nutty personality. And with Diaz, even if it seems like he has to pay $100 every time he talks, his fierce approach to kicking the living crap out of people makes up for it. If Diaz and Griffin (Diego Sanchez, too) aren’t the catalysts for making the UFC a mainstream monster in the States, I don’t know who is.

And shooting back over to Eilers, how terrible is it for the man to not only blow out his knee, but to also suffer a broken nose? If that’s not bad enough, the poor guy also suffered two broken hands, one of which that is completely shattered. It wouldn’t be too bad had he won the fight against Arlovski, but he suffered a heart-breaking TKO loss along with his injuries. That’s five defeats in one night, a feat not even the lowly New York Yankees can claim.
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