As someone that used to work in game presentation for a minor league hockey team, I appreciate and understand the logistics and massive amount of production work that goes into an event like Saturday's UFC 129. The amount of behind-the-scenes moving parts that work in perfect form and function is staggering, but there's only so much you can do to prepare for technical gremlins and unforeseen accidents. At some point, you need to simply say a few Hail Marys and hope that the people you hired can do the job that you've paid them to do.
If anything did go wrong Saturday or with fight week in general, we never saw it. From a visual perspective, UFC 129 delivered. From a content point, it delivered, packing in nearly every fight between Spike and the PPV itself. From a news point, it delivered and even for someone like myself that lives in the MMA media world, I was impressed with how big the event felt from a media build standpoint. The Super Bowl analogy may be played out, but it's accurate and to me, the UFC hit on something they probably will ignore. That would be a yearly mega-show of Toronto-esque proportions that attracts bidders, ala WWE's Wrestlemania.
However, more stadium shows are coming and the challenge will be to assemble cards that will feel meaningful enough to attract 50,000+. Possible? Yes. Matching the build up, execution and pure furor of UFC 129? That's a little tougher.
For those involved, Sunday (or more likely Monday) provided a day of rest for the Zuffa crew that allowed them to reflect on what exactly they pulled off. Similar to UFC 100, UFC 129 felt like something so much more than just your run of the mill UFC event and considering they run 20+ events a year, that's a great accomplishment. Well done, Zuffa. Well done.
Jake Shields needs to be great again
Give Jake Shields credit in that he bloodied up Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre and even won a round which at minimum, made for a good accounting of himself in a fight and environment that became much bigger than himself. The HP Pavilion that wasn't.
But there was never a point in which Shields had GSP in serious trouble and never a point in which anyone felt the title was in jeopardy. Shields' stature may have been raised slightly by the exposure, but regardless, he lost and with his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann regarded as a failure of a debut, that leaves Shields in quite a predicament.
Thus far, Shields has looked nothing like what the marquee would have you believe. He went undefeated for six years, had a 15-fight win streak and was a champion everywhere else but the UFC. There's another gear that Shields needs to kick into and it's not happening. Even before he moved to Zuffa-land, Dan Henderson came justthisclose to beating him by first round TKO and Jason "Mayhem" Miller was a bell ring away from a submission victory.
That's why Shields' next fight is so important. He needs to come strong and show why the UFC wanted him to begin with. He needs to finish a guy and show why some people thought he had a chance against GSP to begin with. Otherwise, he'll be known as a "Strikeforce guy" that couldn't hang with the best of the UFC and will become just another guy.
Lyoto Machida: are we sleeping on his victory?
The UFC career of Lyoto Machida has been an unusual one with a collection of fights derided by some as dull, spiced by some exciting moments that had us thinking he could be a dominant 205-pound champion.
But coming off a controversial decision title defense over Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, a subsequent and definitive title loss to Rua and a November decision defeat to Rampage Jackson, Machida desperately needed a win Saturday against Randy couture. Thanks to a vicious kick, he got it.
However, the win felt like it was mostly an afterthought amidst the Couture retirement talk. Who does he fight next that would be compelling? Can he return to finishing opponents or was this simply a case of an overmatched opponent? It felt like there should have been more made of a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion knocking out another former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, but perhaps it's trying to understand just what we have today in Lyoto Machida that is throwing me off.
Randy Couture: did the UFC sleep on his departure?
On the flip side of Machida was Couture, one of the comforting faces and figures in MMA who called it a career but in a way that didn't befit someone that has meant this much to the sport. Saturday should have been a celebration of his accomplishments and not just a throwaway moment in the middle of a PPV. Perhaps it was because Dana White didn't fully believe Couture was serious when he said his fight with Machida would be his last, but that's his fault for being delusional about the premise of a 47-year-old man returning to action once again.
couture gave the UFC an amazing opportunity Saturday night to do something even bigger than simply airing a final fight. He gave them a golden chance to create one of those "moments" and provide 55,000 the opportunity to shower cheers and praise upon someone that defies athletic logic at this age. The UFC didn't totally blow it, but they didn't come close to doing the moment justice either. Couture isn't just another guy -- he's someone that inspired many with his high success level in a young person's sport.
We've got another month to wait
It felt like an eternity between UFC events and considering how frequently Zuffa puts on cards, the near month from UFC Fight Night: Nogueria vs. Davis and UFC 129 might as well have been six months. UFC-only fans will have another month-long stretch without the Octagon as the Zuffa crew is off until Memorial Day weekend with UFC 130, headlined by Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard.
The discussion about oversaturation of MMA is one I have quite frequently as we're in a culture of quantity over quality these days. I'll admit that at times, a month between events felt a little long, but if that means stronger top-to-bottom cards and better value for fans buying PPVs, I could definitely get used to it.
- GSP Tried to Force the KO Against Jake Shields - Kid Nate
- The Case for Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz - Leland Roling
- Lyoto Machida, Ivan Menjivar Walk the Come Back Trail - Leland Roling
- Jose Aldo Continues Fight for Mainstream Recognition - David St. Martin
- Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva Loses Steam - Brent Brookhouse
- Great Judging Should Be Applauded Sometimes - Tim Burke
- UFC Hits Home Run With UFC 129 Live Experience - Matt Bishop
- Zuffa and the UFC Finally Hit It Big - Matthew Roth
- Hours After, GSP Still Can't See With His Left Eye - Anton Tabuena
- UFC 129 Play by Play and Live Commentary - Brent Brookhouse
- Is Steven Seagal Secretly a Martial Arts Genius? - Jonathan Snowden
- Georges St. Pierre Holds Back UFC's Canadian Coming Out Party at UFC 129 - Jonathan Snowden
- UFC 129 Post-Fight Press Conference Video
- Georges St. Pierre Slips Past Jake Shields
- Jose Aldo Holds Off Mark Hominick
- Lyoto Machida Clouts Randy Couture
- Vladimir Matyushenko Mops the Floor With Jason Brilz
- Ben Henderson Whips Up On Mark Bocek
- Rory MacDonald Ragdolls Nate Diaz
- Jake Ellenberger Brutalizes Sean Pierson
- Claude Patrick Edges Daniel Roberts
- Pablo Garza Submits Yves Jabouin
- John Makdessi KO's Kyle Watson With Spinning Back Fist
- Jason MacDonald Triangles Ryan Jensen
- Ivan Menjivar Clocks Charlie Valencia