Saturday, February 23, 2013

Best Place to Watch UFC Fights

By User Msmirlie2863 (Own work)
CC-BY-SA-3.0 (,
via Wikimedia Commons
I've seen my share of fights in person, from both inside and outside the ring. Short of fighting yourself, the atmosphere of the crowd when you're watching the fights in person is hard to beat, but for most of us getting to a live UFC event (especially every two weeks or so) is almost impossible.

Of course, there's television. The preliminary fights are usually on one of the cable channels, FUEL or FX most often. The main event and the main card fights, however, are often on pay-per-view and can run you $54.99 for the high definition PPV event. That's for the privilege of watching TV in your home. Comfortable, but not really a live fight atmosphere, unless you happen to have a giant entertainment room and invite 10 or 20 of your closest fight fan friends. If you do that, there's the added cost of food and beverages for the whole gang. Not to mention the Sunday morning clean-up. Once in a while perhaps, but not every couple of weeks.

For me, the best place to watch the UFC fights is Buffalo Wild Wings. They show the preliminary fights on the free channels, and they are licensed to show the PPV event on their big screens. By the time, the PPV comes on, almost everyone in the place is there for the sole purpose of watching the fights.

People root for their favorites, groan when someone take a big shot, and tell their friends at the table next to them what the professional fighter should be doing. Depending upon who's fighting for the title, you may even see folks holding up a Brazilian flag from time to time. There may even be a bit of good-natured taunting back and forth between tables if they get too vocal about their support for one fighter or another.

The food is pretty good for snacking throughout the evening: dozens of hot wing sauces, a good selection of appetizers to share around the table, and whatever you want for beverages. I generally order a couple appetizers to get started and then add one or two more every hour or so throughout the night.

If you stick to a beer or two or free refills on soft drinks, two people can enjoy an evening watching the UFC at Buffalo Wild Wings (with food and drink provided) for about the same cost as buying the UFC pay-per-view event. For my money, that's a much better deal. Plus, someone else gets to worry about cleaning up.

Without a doubt, the best place to watch the fights is ringside. If that's not possible, then try Buffalo Wild Wings, I'll be at the Rochester location tonight to watch UFC 157 and the prelims. For the record, I expect to see Lyoto Machida defeat Henderson tonight.
The author has no material connection to Buffalo Wild Wings and received no compensation for this blog post.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bonnar vs. Silva Highlights UFC Problem

As I watched Stephen Bonnar walk to the Octagon for his title fight against Anderson Silva, he looked familiar. He looked like a string of fighters I had watched as they walked to the boxing ring to face Mike Tyson in his prime. Determined, but pretty sure that he is not only going to be beaten but get a beating as well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Stephen Bonnar isn't a warrior or that he isn't a good fighter, but he really didn't belong in the cage with Silva last night. Even the commercials leading up to the fight seed to acknowledge that fact. "Either one of two things is going to happen," they said, "a knockout or an incredible upset." When the league promoters themselves give you no chance, that can hardly inspire confidence in the underdog.

So the question is, then, why did Bonnar get the title fight? Sure, one could say that as a measure of respect for all he's done in the sport, offering him a shot at the title, even if it is a longshot, is the right thing to do. You could say it, but the truth of the matter is that the UFC simply lacks depth. There aren't enough top tier UFC fighters to fight on the headline of almost weekly pay-per-view specials.

Instead we see recycled fights in which any two fighters who put on a good fight get almost immediately rematched at least two more times or a handful of top level fighters get shuffled into the deck. Once all the possible permutations are used up, you're left with guys fighting for the title, knowing as they walk to the Octagon that the other guy is a much better fighter and they are almost certainly going to have their brains rattled.

The UFC needs to attract and keep more talent if it wants to attract and keep more fans. If I want to see the same two guys try to recreate an exciting fight, or if I want to watch a fight where the outcome is a foregone conclusion before it starts, I can watch UFC Reloaded on Fuel TV instead of paying more than fifty bucks for another pay-per-view.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Taking the Fight or Giving it Away

I recently watched UFC 150 and the preliminary fights. The main event was a bout between Frankie Edgar, known for his speed, footwork and striking skills and Benson Henderson. I was disappointed by the way that both fighters went through the fight.

Edgar seemed confident that his infrequent pitter-pattering punches were enough to rack up rounds and was content to let it go to the judges scorecards. As the challenger in a title fight, I don't think trying to bank rounds without really dominatng any portion of the fight is a good strategy. He let Henderson fight his own fight, instead of dictatign the terms of engagement throughout the entire fight. Fighters should aim to fight when they want and how they want and prevent their oppponent from doing the same.

When you're ready to engage, engage on your terms. When your opponent is ready to engage, frustrate him, either tie him up, maintain distance to prevent an attack, or change the method of engagement to one he doesn't prefer.

Edgar should have gone for broke in the final round, if not sooner. Sustained aggressive attacking that kept his opponent on the defensive and hopefully opened up the the opportunity to take the decision away from the judges should have been his game plan.

Read more about my thoughts on Frankie Edgar's losing strategy here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

MMA Fighters with Bad Hands

Although I enjoy all aspects of MMA fighting, it seems to me that with few exceptions, MMA fighters are not good strikers. Sure, they can throw bombs and knock each other out with some regularity, but they have none of the real skill that one might find in a good professional boxer.

I'm not asking that MMA fighters become boxers, but just as they use the applicable skills from wrestling and other combat sports and adapt them to MMA fighting, they need to maximize both the offensive and defensive skills from the boxer's toolkit.

Read more of my thoughts on adapting boxing skills to the MMA cage here.

The Problem with Big Money Boxing...

I'm a big fan of the sport of boxing, don't get me wrong, but when the hype became more important than the fight, I stopped watching. I've been watching the UFC, though, ever since Royce Gracie's first won the contest in 1993. For both the fighters and the fans, MMA and the UFC are all about the fight.

Read the rest of my thoughts on boxing's biggest mistakes here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

UFC 148 Aftermath: A Lesson in Balance

I don't mind a little trash-talking before a fight, but there are limits. You don't threaten to eat your opponent's children a la Mike Tyson, and you don't make any remarks about your opponent's wife. If you do either of those things, you deserve to get wrecked in the ring.

That's exactly what happened to Chael Sonnen on Saturday night at UFC 148. Despite all his prefight bravado, Silva wrecked him. There was no second-guessing a lucky break or judges' scorecards. Silva beat Sonnen so badly, the referee had to step in and save him as he cowered against the cage in the second round.

Sonnen came out at the bell looking as though he were shaking with rage and he fought that way too. He took Silva to the ground early and kept him there in the first round. Despite his manic energy, Sonnen could not really inflict any damage on Silva.

Silva showed calm and ring-poise while fighting from his back. His defense seemed to frustrate Sonnen and make him angrier still.

In the second round, Sonnen's lack of control showed and cost him the fight. He came after Silva aggressively, but could not finish another take-down. Unable to take Silva off his feet again, Sonnen tried to unleash all of his pent-up fury in one spinning backfist. It was telegraphed and wild. Silva saw it coming and easily ducked out of the way.

Sonnen threw it so hard with such little control that he lost his balance and fell down. Silva cam after him hard, scoring a knee to the face and following it up it up with punches. Sonnen's nose looked badly broken. Sonnen's will to fight looked just as badly broken. He looked like a schoolyard bully who doesn't know what to do when someone hits him.

His face looked like a mask of fear as he waited for Silva to strike again. Silva did strike again and again, until the referee stepped in to protect the defenseless Sonnen.

Having been in the ring a few times as an amateur kick-boxer, I don't like to see anyone get hurt in a match, even idiots, but I am glad that Chael Sonnen was beaten and beaten up in this fight. Sonnen crossed the line with his words before the fight. He'll survive his face being battered, and perhaps he'll learn something about balance, both inside the ring and out.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

UFC 148: Ortiz vs. Griffin

Looking at Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz on the undercard of the Silva vs. Sonnen fight, I'm anticipating that this may be the best fight of the night. I'm certainly looking forward to watching this match at Buffalo Wild Wings in Newington, New Hampshire, tonight. Both men are not afraid to mix it up and neither knows the meaning of the word quit.

Years of Accumulated Damage

This should be a war. Griffin, in past fights, has seemed to get stronger and more aggressive in direct proportion to the amount of beating he receives. The downside to that is that he has accumulated an awful lot of damage over the years.

Ortiz, for his part, has also taken a fair amount of damage over his career, including consecutive knockout losses in his last two fights. Ortiz has lost four of his last five, including the UFC 106 match against Forrest Griffin. Those who beat Ortiz, for the most part, outworked him in the standing game.

Ortiz Outworked by Strikers

Noguiera, Griffin and Evans outscored Ortiz with a combined 172 strikes to Ortiz's 38 over the three fights. Ortiz cannot outscore Griffin if the fight turns into a striking match. It's possible that he could get lucky with a punch or catch Griffin with a knee that puts him out, but it would be more by luck than by design.

Ground and Pound on the Mat

Ortiz needs to get inside Griffin's strikes and turn this fight into a wrestling match. He needs to come in full of fury and maintain it for the entire fight. Neither man, if they come in as well-conditioned and as determined as they have in the past, will tire.

Griffin is no slouch on the ground himself, but if the fight goes to the mat, Ortiz will have the advantage with his trademark ground and pound. Griffin won't wither under that kind of punishment, but a referee will only allow the fighter to take so much punishment before he has to step in.

This fight, promises to be a memorable battle between two tested veterans. For the last few years, Ortiz, however, hasn't been the fighter he used to be. If he tries to stand with Griffin, or finds his take-down attempts stuffed all night long, Ortiz will lose either by a wide margin on the judge's scorecards or by knockout.

If, however, Griffin can't stop Ortiz's take-downs and winds up with his back to the mat for more than a few minutes of the fight, Ortiz may be able to finish him.

Testing Ortiz's Chin

The real question is, just what does Ortiz have left to carry into the octagon with him, a renewed dedication and the unstoppable power he showed in his earlier years, or just his reputation. With two knockout defeats for Ortiz leading into this fight, it's almost a given that Griffin will be looking to see if 37-year-old Ortiz has lost his chin.

A Clash of Personalities

In terms of personality, Griffin and Ortiz could not be any more different. Ortiz is flashy, takes pride in his bad boy reputation, and enjoys being famous at least as much as he enjoys being in the ring. In the past, it's been hard to tell if stepping into the octagon was more about being in the spotlight or being in a fight, for Ortiz. Although that seems to have been tempered somewhat as his ability to back up that braggadocio has declined.

Griffin, on the other hand, is all about the fight. He is quiet, well-mannered, and seems to prefer to keep to himself. He seems most at home when he's locked inside a chain-link fence with someone looking to take his head off. He likes fighting and I don't think it would make any difference to him if he had an audience of a million or if nobody watched at all.