Thursday, February 10, 2011
There was strong possibility going into this PPV that I was going to miss out because it snuck up on me. But after reading the card and seeing some hype footage I was hooked in. It was a strong PPV overall though not up to the standard of late -we have been blessed with some high quality events lately. As I watched the fights I got to thinking (slightly annoying now that I have started writing about each PPV I have fallen into the reviewer’s trap of sacrificing the moment for a thought) that the word freak is no longer a compliment or hype building adjective in UFC, it is almost a requirement. You have Cain Velasquez with his freakish cardio, BJ Penn and his freaky elastic joints, Chris Leben and the freakish look on his face after taking a KO punch and coming back even harder, GSP’s freaky accent, the freaky skills of some of the lightweights and of course Brock Lesnar who is a freak of nature. The sport is in constant evolution, such that the freak tag is always there being justifiably thrown around. It doesn’t just sell PPVs it is often the only way to describe some of the things that happen in UFC.
126 had its fair share of freaks. The love hate relationship that fighting fans have with Anderson Silva continues (love finding a way this round); New star on the block Jon Bones Jones displayed another exhibition of sheer athleticism and power; and even Carlos Rocha was being lauded for his freakish Ju Jitsu ability which looked like poetry in the first round (so tragically absent from the next two). Anderson’s jaw dropping kick was a special thing to see (for those who didn’t blink) and he holds onto his records and number one pound for pound tag until that awesome day when Chael is allowed back in the Octagon. Bones Jones made Darth Bader look like he was wishing he could use the force (too much?) and his natural flair inside the Octagon has won him a legion of new fans to add to the other new legion and, belive it or not a title shot in the light heavyweight division.
But despite the impressive discipline of Freakish Skills there were also some old heads in there showing that sometimes hard work and a lot of grit is what it takes to make it big. The veterans, Forest Griffin and Rich Franklin, fought out an entertaining match though it lacked any defining moment. But their presence said that there will always be a place for those who really want it. And the UFC roster is full of the hard workers living the dream of training relentlessly for a 15 minute gig that has the potential to make or break you. And the dream isn’t in vain. The big names are always meeting their match. I’ve mentioned Sonnen; How about Frankie Edgar? Are these guys freaks? Rochu, despite his hype, was simply outwitted by a more experienced fighter in Jake Ellenger. It’s guys like Jake who just need to remember: Hard Work Pays Off (unless you’re facing GSP).
So I think we have covered it then…or have we? We could be forgetting one thing though: Sport isn’t a movie. It isn’t scripted, and a fight isn’t won on paper. And if ever there is a sport where luck can play its part, it is UFC. With that many KO punches thrown the percentages of landing are at least better than none (unless you are Antonio Banuelos facing a conservative Miguel Torres - then the chances are 0). The laborers aren’t the only ones looking to strike it lucky. Silva came into the fight with some heavy reputation damage after a few counter-strike bore fests and then a pummeling. He was lucky to pull a last ditch submission and you could say he was lucky to land such a destructive and flashy kick on Belfort’s chin. The main event looked destined to become an exhibition of interpretive Capoeira for a few minutes and could have easily found itself being booed into the fourth and fifth rounds.
Jones can consider himself lucky as well. Not for any fortune during the fight, but it seems as though the stars aligned for him to be set up with a title shot at the age of just 23. 23!! He has built a rapid fan base and highlight reel and just so happens to be the hottest ticket in the UFC Light Heavyweight division; all this culminating just hours after training partner Evans blows out a knee and can’t fight his upcoming title fight. Dana White must be licking his lips at the drama and publicity and escalating PPV buy predictions. But maybe Dana is the man behind it all. Maybe Dana is just lucky. Maybe he puts in a lot of hard work. Maybe for someone to be able to take this struggling company from debt and losses to monthly multi-million dollar paydays is just freakish. I don’t know but once again I finish watching one PPV and start salivating for the next one.