I’ve been a fight fan for years. Sugar Ray, Haggler, Tommy Hearns, Tyson, Prince Naseem, Sweet P, Ward-Gatti I, II, and III. I watched HBO fights religiously. Fights didn’t sound right without Jim Lampley on the call. Lamps gives you exactly what you need. I don’t know what the hell Harold Lederman does, but they way he explained the rules were the only way to start a fight. I hate Larry Merchant, but he is the perfect foil to let a boxer truly get off. His exchanges with Prince Naseem Hamed were legendary. (I chop ‘im down Larray. Timbaaaaaah!) Here’s the thing. I can’t watch boxing anymore.
Don’t get me wrong. Kelly Pavlik whooping the hell out of Jermaine Taylor was great. Back and forth action, clean hit to knock Taylor out. That is all you could ask for in a modern boxing match. That’s the problem, there isn’t a dominant Heavyweight that likes to run smack. There isn’t a killer cruiserweight ripping through his weight class. Good fighters only fight once or twice a year. Then it happened, I flipped on Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter a few years ago.
Dana White and the UFC have the fight game figured out. TUF 1 introduced people to the sport. Explained how it works, familiarized you with the rules, gave you a crew of fighters to root for, introduced you to the current champs, everything you need to become a fan. Everyone thought Ultimate Fighting was glorified cockfighting (and it was to a certain extent). Here is what makes the UFC better than boxing right now.
1: The best fighters are always fighting:
In boxing, when you get a good fight on the card, it is almost guaranteed to be the only good fight that night. The undercard is usually an afterthought and on some occasions it isn’t even aired on HBO. In the UFC they try to stack every damn card they have. Sure, there will be a championship fight at the top of the card, but there is also a fight for number one contender in one of the weight classes on the undercard, a former champ, one of the TUF reality show fighters. Then, they run their best guys out there three or four times a year.
2: There are good fights on free TV:
Not only does The Ultimate Fighter come on every week for the reality show, but they run fights from the pay per view on UFC Unleashed, just a few months after they originally air, and they have their “fight night” shows with some good matchups. They give you a chance to see their fighters without paying for it. It means you have access to all of their top fighters at some point. They ran Rampage Jackson, the UFC Light Heavyweight Champ against Dan Henderson the Pride Champ on Free TV. I’m talking dream matches between the best in the world.
3: These guys fight for a finish:
Here’s the best part. Ive seen very few shows where there isn’t a great hit, a great choke out or submission, or a wild scrap with both cats letting is all hang out. Here’s the thing. The guaranteed purse for these guys isn’t that high, but there is a bonus that is given out at every show. Best knockout, best submission, best fight. If you perform well and excite the crowd you make extra loot on the spot. Watch this:
Every damn sport should work this way. Okay, this isn’t a team sport so this type of motivation works.
4: The fighters have personality:
Chuck Liddell may be on a two fight losing streak, but the dude is no nonsense, has a mohawk and will knock out the hell out. Rampage Jackson is a certified superstar. This dude wears a literal chain around his neck and howls like a werewolf at the moon before every fight.
He keeps it simple too, “Chuck wants to keep his belt. But you can’t always get what you want. I’ma Whoop Chuck’s Ass”. Anderson Silva may be the baddest man out there right now. He just whooped Rich Franklin for the second time, essentially ending his career in the middleweight division. He has blazed through everyone that gets put in front of him, and middleweight isn’t the deepest weight class so there aren’t too many other people to fight. He’s already faded Chris Leben, although the UFC would love for him to be a star, Kendall Grove is interesting, but just lost, Charles McCaaaaartheeeey, it is not yoooouuuuu, all these cats are fakers. They are going to have to run out some of the Pride boys to try to get the belt.
5: The UFC is going for high impact:
They announce Liddell v. Silva (the dream match a little too late), and Brock Freaking Lesnar in the same week? That’s crazy. Plus instead of cutting away and acting like the damn ring girls don’t exist, they actually let you get some action shots of the ladies in their short shorts.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. The best way to get in is by watching The Ultimate Fighter show. It gives you the right background and flavor. Serra v. Hughes for the Welterweight title on free tv. I like Serra as a coach, but I’ve never seen him dominate. He’s also been on the sideline for an awfully long time. Hughes should win the belt back, but I think Serra’s got more invested into the fight that Hughes. I’m picking Serra.