Jonathan Snowden ruffled a few feathers with his post-fight review of UFC 119 and question-in-a-headline Was UFC 119 the Worst UFC Show of All Time? While he wrote a fine piece excoriating 119 for the P.O.S. that it was, he didn't even attempt to answer the question he asked in the headline.
Old-time fans of the UFC know that the worst UFC show of all time is a pretty high bar to match as there have certainly been plenty of stinkers. Hardcore fans all know the feeling of talking friends into watching a UFC card only to sit there in horror as the action fails to deliver. We've had main events that went on and on with no action, main events that ended too quickly due to freak injuries, and worst of all, main events that didn't happen at all.
But which were the worst? Before we can document the atrocities, we have to clarify the criteria. We're going to limit ourselves to the viewing experience here. Events with seemingly weak cards that delivered tons of great action won't make the cut. Conversely, seemingly stacked cards -- like UFC 33 or UFC 112 -- featuring multiple title fights that didn't deliver will be included.
Here are my nominees for worst UFC show of all time, in chronological order:
- UFC 9: Motor City Madness
Headliner: Dan Severn vs Ken Shamrock
Why It Sucked: Pressure from Senator John McCain and others court ordered some heinous rule changes, including no closed fist punches to the head. For reasons known only to him, Ken Shamrock was the only fighter on the card who obeyed that edict. Dan Severn did his part by dancing away from Shamrock for nearly thirty minutes. Shamrock, a counter-fighter, was stymied by Severn's passive approach and stood in cage center not doing anything. This was the end of the golden age of No Holds Barred.
- UFC 11: The Proving Ground
Headliner: Eight man tournament including Mark Coleman, Tank Abbott, Scott Ferrozzo, Jerry Bohlander and Fabio Gurgel.
Why It Sucked: After an interminable semi-final between Scott Ferrozzo and Tank Abbott in which two overweight guys pushed each other into the cage for 18 minutes, no one came out to challenge Mark Coleman in the final. Ferrozzo was exhausted from his fight and alternate winner Roberto Traven claimed injury as well. This wouldn't be the last UFC without a main event but it would be the last eight man tournament.
- UFC 24: First Defense
Headliner: Kevin Randleman vs Pedro Rizzo
Why It Sucked: Randleman slipped on a pipe in the dressing room and gave himself a concussion. The fight was cancelled but fans who managed to get the PPV (not easy during the "dark ages") were not told the main event was not happening until the end of the show. This was the absolute nadir of the worst era in UFC history.
- UFC 33: Victory in Vegas
Headliner: Tito Ortiz vs Vladimir Matyushenko
Why It Sucked: This was a high stakes card. Zuffa's third show as owner of the UFC and the first in Las Vegas with wide PPV availability. Not only did it flop in terms of PPV buys, but the three title fights on the card (Dave Menne vs Gil Castillo for the MW belt, Jens Pulver vs Dennis Hallman for the LW belt) all went to uneventful five round decisions. A very painful and disappointing evening for MMA fans.
- UFC 61: Bitter Rivals
Headliner: Tim Sylvia vs Andrei Arlovski
Why It Sucked: It's nearly impossible to convey just how disappointing this card was at the time. Believe it or not, but the title fight was much anticipated. Sylvia and Arlovski had split a pair of title fights marked by hard punches, submissions and amazing shocks and twists. No one was prepared for five rounds of feeling out that never got past first base. Coming on top of a Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock rematch marred by a quick stoppage, fans left this one with a very bad taste in their mouths. The reputations of Arlovski and Sylvia never recovered.
- UFC 72: Victory
Headliner: Rich Franklin vs Yushin Okami
Why It Sucked: This was the rude awakening for international fans who would come to learn that the UFC isn't going to be bringing their best cards to the international stage. A middleweight contender fight between Franklin and Okami topped off a very weak card. The fight itself was a dreadful tease. Franklin circled in and out, scoring now and then with punches and kicks as Okami earned his reputation as a boring fighter. A near submission in the third just left Okami fans more frustrated.
- UFC 78 Validation
Headliner: Michael Bisping vs Rashad Evans
Why It Sucked: What happens when the UFC's most infamous lay and pray artist meets it's most cautious stick and move pointfighter? A boring split decision of course. This is just one of several weak cards featuring Bisping or Evans in recent years that I could have included. But only one show had both of these guys in the cage at once, desperately seeking a decision.
- UFC 109 Relentless
Headliner: Randy Couture vs Mark Coleman
Why It Sucked: One of those fights that should have happened a decade sooner, it just wasn't any fun watching a wizened Mark Coleman trying to kickbox. No one orders a UFC to watch our heroes suddenly look smaller than life.
- UFC 112: Invincible
Headliner: Anderson Silva vs Demian Maia
Why It Sucked: Another card stacked with multiple title fights that turned out to be an endless boring nightmare. Watching Frankie Edgar dance and duck his way to a controversial decision win over B.J. Penn was bad enough. Watching Anderson Silva refuse to fight for two and a half rounds after playing around for the first half of the fight was even worse. Infuriating fans futher, this was the third in a series of lackluster title defenses by Silva.
Headliner: Frank Mir vs Mirko Filipovic
Why It Sucked: There's nothing like a poor excuse of a headliner that fails to meet even the lowest expectations. Seeing Mirko Cro Cop looking like he didn't even want to be in the cage was bad enough. Seeing Frank Mir utterly incapable of putting together any offense against a basically helpless foe for 2.5 rounds was worse.
What's your least favorite UFC?