Sunday, June 12, 2011

UFC 131 Thoughts

UFC 131 ended up producing the desired winners in most matches.(*) More importantly, those winners gave performances that made the winners look like they are worthy of the next match they will receive.

Junior dos Santos absolutely mauled Shane Carwin in the main event. The match had already been declared for the next title shot, but with Cain Velasquez looking so dominant in all of his fights it was going to take a dominant performance to make people believe that Cain was in any sort of danger. dos Santos delivered this. The first round was a mirror of Carwin's last fight, only with Carwin receiving the benefit of the doubt from the referee. Make no mistake, Carwin was being pummelled unmercifully and could have seen the ref stop the fight. And if the round were 30 seconds longer, this likely would have happened. But with only 10 seconds remaining, and it being obvious that Herb Dean was not going to stop the fight, dos Santos relented on his attack, choosing to reserve his energy. Not that it mattered; Carwin's face told the story. dos Santos eventually ended up with a decision victory, but most everybody will remember it as a dominant performance, and one that made dos Santos look like a threat to Velasquez's title.

Similarly, Kenny Florian's defeat of Diego Nunes set Florian up for a future title featherweight title shot. This was also pre-ordained; if Florian was going to be able to survive his cut to 145 pounds, he would be lined up to face the winner of Jose Aldo Jr. and Chad Mendes. Florian did not look dominant; however he did look as though his skills did not suffer from fighting at a lower weight class. And that should be more than enough to sell a PPV.

Combine this with Donald Cerrone's victory and you have three matches that set up future contenders well.

(*): This is unlike UFC 130, where the right people won, but did not look impressive in winning.
More importanly for the UFC, this show was an entertaining one. After the end of UFC 129, and the whole of UFC 130, this was a welcome event.

It's said often that bad events will be forgiven by fans becasue the event is real. The fans understand that not all fights will be exciting, but so long as some are exciting to watch with a definitive end. This is true, but if you end up with enough boring fights/cards in a row, you will reach a tipping point where business will go down and (heaven forbid) the fad will pass. UFC 131 headed this off, but it is a real danger for UFC to consider.

The real issue that UFC has to fight against is the reality that this is a real sport. Fighters make money by winning, not being spectacular. As much as they want to score the memorable knockout, they want to win to keep their job even more. And UFC can not do much more than they have to incentivize their fighters to produce spectacular finishes - large bonuses (in many cases more than the purse for winning a fight) and more prominent positions on fight cards can only go so far. In the end fighters need to make the decision as to whether they are going to go for a bonus, or if they desire to win at all costs. It's a tradeoff that is difficult to decide.
My predictions were 4-3, putting me at 44-30-2 for the year. No wagers were made, so I am still at a net profit of $18.60 for the year.

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