The countdown to UFC 84 show was very interesting. There was a new style that was more like the HBO specials than past countdown specials, and it was very good.
On the steroid front, they acknowledged it, but did not focus on it. The result was a hype show that was about 10 times less effective in making me want to see Penn and Sherk fight than their press conference the other day was.
I was bummed on the show...but then Tito Ortiz saved the day. The second half of the countdown was pure gold in building the Machida fight, and it all built to the end, where he said he would look into the eyes of the Fertitta brothers, say "thank you," and then look at Dana White and say "fuck you." I am so stoked to see Machida and Ortiz. The stylistic questions on top of the Dana/Tito story makes it the most intriguing fight so far this year.
It is absolutely mindboggling to me that Dana does not see the drawing potential in his feud with Tito Ortiz. UFC has done its best when it combined storyline elements from WWE with the realism of MMA. In Tito/Dana, they have the equivalent of the Austin/McMahon feud that skyrocketed WWE to historic success. Not only do they have the same magic here...it's better, because it's real. If Dana really is a good businessman, he will recognize this and keep Ortiz on the roster. For the last year there have been endless articles and messageboard posts attacking Dana's decisions. For the most part, I've found the attacks baseless and ill-informed. If Dana lets Tito go, even with a victory, then he really is not the businessman I thought he was.
It's too early to make a buys prediction, because everything depends on the couple days before the fight, but I think this show will do on the upper end of 450,000-500,000 buys. With this kind of card on a holiday weekend and a month after the last show, it was always going to do 375-400, but Tito may have pushed it up a major notch.