Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UFC 103 - Dallas, Are You Ready?

200px-UFC103Poster Saturday Night is quickly approaching, and that means UFC 103 at the American Airlines Center is ready to go down.

I have been waiting a very long time to finally see my first UFC show in person, but I must tell you there are a few things that trouble me:

1) - The card appears to be rather weak. Now, as a UFC hardcore loyalist, I will readily admit that some of the strong cards turn out to be weak, and some of the weak cards turn out to be awesome. But, at first glance, I wish Columbus, Ohio, might have been given this one. I think a city that has never enjoyed your product before might need a headliner that gets the marginal fan interested if the goal is to fill a 20,000 seat arena at the prices that are listed. CroCop may be that guy, but do enough people know his work in the sports world? Which brings me to...

2) - Can the arena be filled? With the poor card, the economy, Texas-Texas Tech up against it, the somewhat minimal promotion locally, and the prices, will the arena fill? And if it does not, will the UFC vow to never return? I want to make sure the UFC is impressed and a regular traveller to these parts, but you never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression. And 9/19 will say plenty about the DFW market to the UFC suits (Dana White).

3) - How bad will the competitions hurt? Texas vs Texas Tech is a real troublesome match-up, and on PPV, we have Floyd Mayweather vs Juan Manuel Marquez. And HBO has really been pushing that with the great 24/7 series, so much so that if this card wasn't in Dallas - I would be torn.

Anyway, with all of this in mind, I am still excited. Maybe not excited enough to actually pay $250 a piece for my tickets, but luckily, I received an offer I couldn't refuse.

According to Wikipedia here is the fight card for the night:
Main card - PPV, 9pm
Catchweight (195 lb) bout: Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort[1]
Heavyweight bout: Mirko Filipović vs. Junior dos Santos[1]
Welterweight bout: Martin Kampmann vs. Paul Daley[1]
Welterweight bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Frank Trigg[1]
Lightweight bout: Tyson Griffin vs. Hermes Franca[1]

Preliminary card - On Spike, 8pm
Lightweight bout: Efrain Escudero vs. Cole Miller[1]
Middleweight bout: Drew McFedries vs. Tomasz Drwal[1]

Seeing Crocop vs Dos Santos really has me excited, and Koscheck vs Trigg is oddly intruiging. Tyson Griffin always has great fights so that should be good, too. Franklin vs Belfort is the main event, but I must tell you that when Belfort left the UFC (2/05) that was about 4 months before I started following the whole thing. So, I have never seen him fight. I can't recall the last time the UFC offered a headline fight in which I could say I had never seen the headliner fight. The true hardcore fans will know all about him, but those of us who have only been in the sport since the Ultimate Fighter series brought us in might be a bit in the dark.

Anyway, I hope all of my wildest dreams come true tomorrow night. I am ready to roll.

Everytime we preview a UFC card, Greg Garcia sends me 5 MMA questions that he uses on his blog, and I reprint here. So, this version is below:
Greg: Bob, a big MMA week is upon us. TUF 10 premier, Ultimate Fight Night and finally a UFC event here in Dallas. Here are a few questions concerning this week’s events.

We will finally get to see what Kimbo Slice in the UFC will be like. There is no doubt he will draw viewers and add to the already entertaining aspect of Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson. What are your thoughts on how he may do? & over or under, 2 wins for Kimbo.

Bob: Wow. That is a great line you set. I was kind of thinking I will take the under. He may get the first win, depending on matchup, but I don't see how he could deal with a wrestler like the guy who won the episode match from Wednesday night. He is not much better than me on the ground it would appear, and eventually in MMA you end up on your back. If you have no idea how to deal with that reality, then what?

One thing we are not factoring in is the idea that he could be a huge ratings winner. And with match-ups being determined by Dana and his band of merry men, then I might suggest the possibility that they will do everything in their power to keep him around.

His beard is intriguing, and his appearance is as menacing as anyone in sports since Ben Wallace was in his prime. But, can he fight at even this level? After watching his demise on CBS to the great Seth Petruzelli, I have my doubts.

Greg: Ultimate Fight Night is always exciting and FREE always adds to the equation. Was I the only person who felt that the last UFN had way too many commercial breaks? & does that take away from the show? It certainly aggravated the heck out of me.

Bob: I did not watch it live, so I enjoyed my ability to fast forward through the commercials, although I do wonder if this lengthens the time between rounds, and how that might affect the fight.

Greg: UFC will make its Dallas debut this Saturday. The card has 13 fights scheduled. It will have stiff competition in the form of Mayweather vs Marquez (who strangely enough drinks his own urine to prepare for fights). Do you think the UFC did enough to counter the competition for PPV dollars?

Bob: This is the first time that I have been tempted to lean to the boxing card, and if UFC 103 wasn't in Dallas, I might have gone the other way (For Shame!) I expect that this particular boxing card with the help of the HBO series that promoted it should hold its own well against this less-than-amazing UFC card. I also wonder about the ticket situation in Dallas. Is there any chance they have a full house at those prices? I would be shocked.

Greg: Vitor Belfort makes his UFC return against Rich Franklin in the main event Saturday. The fight will be at a catch weight of 195. Is it a mistake for Franklin to continue to take fights at catch weight at the expense of establishing himself in the light heavyweight division?

Bob: It would seem that Franklin is in a real odd spot right now in his career. Although I have enjoyed his last few fights, I have not been able to consider him truly elite since the Anderson Silva clinics that were performed at his expense. Franklin is a classy individual and I wish I still felt the same about him as I did back when he knocked Nate Quarry senseless, but I feel about him as I do about many of my heroes from '05-'06 - that they are clearly on the other side of the hill.

The catch weight issue is a slippery slope, because you do want to get established in a championship hunt, but 185 and 205 are a lifetime apart in MMA. The difference in the fighters is absurd, and I can understand his reluctance to try to make a living at 205 for the rest of his career.

Greg: There have been rumors about a possible WEC/UFC merger to bring the lighter weight classes to the UFC. Is that good move? Also, the UFC is hinting at up to three fight cards a month as soon as next year, with Strikeforce and a few other companies also running regular cards, is MMA in danger of overexposure?

Bob: It depends how it is offered. I cannot believe how many times I have handed Dana $55 in the last 12 months, and several times I waited until the last minute. It would seem that they need to be careful not to have too many PPVs, because at some point we have to question the quality of the cards versus the price of the PPV. I would think that Spike, Versus, and friends are eager to offer more for free with the money coming from commercial sponsors, which is the question: Will Corporate America get behind MMA? Not video games, exercise supplements, and Movies. I mean the NFL sponsors - cell phone companies, car companies, and financial corporations? That seems to be where the sponsor money is, and what will be needed if MMA is going to be free more often. 1 PPV a month is all I will consider, and honestly, even that rate seems more than the "great fights" can support.

Greg: Thanks for the time Bob. Keep it real.

Greg Garcia
MMA Writer
Dallas Examiner
Greg's Blog

UFC 103 Promo Video

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