Hi Guys & Girls… So, what is the worst PPV in UFC history? I’m sure if you are a long term fan, you will have a few events running through your mind. I’m also sure that one or two of you will have mentioned UFC 33. Three title fights on the one card, including standout performers in Jens Pulver, Tito Ortiz & Chuck Liddell. Sounds relatively titillating, right? The problem was the entire main card went to a decision and the Pulver fight and the Ortiz fight were particularly lackluster.
The significance of the card though is not to do with being a poor card; this card was one of the first under the Zuffa LLC banner (the first being UFC 30). Previous owners had set up the UFC and had established the brand. Unfortunately for them they were on the verge of bankruptcy. So, Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta and Dana White made an offer to purchase the company for USD 2,000,000.00. Lorenzo was told by a friend of his that he was crazy for buying a company with no discernable assets, his answer was that he was buying 3 letters which everyone knew.
Since then we have had 167 pay per views, countless fight nights, 23 seasons of the Ultimate Fighter and a whole host of legendary fights, culminating in UFC 200 and the subsequent sale of the company for USD 4 billion. I figured we would take a trip down memory lane and remember some of my best and worst moments of the Zuffa reign.
Lets start with the inaugural season of the Ultimate Fighter. TUF 1 was Zuffa’s last ditch attempt to gain public interest. Hopefully you are an MMA fan and have at least a passing interest. If not, The Ultimate Fighter is the UFC’s reality show. They pick a bunch of up and coming fighters, put them in a house together and let them compete for a contract with the UFC.
The series itself produced a large percentage of fighters who signed with the UFC and went on to relative success, from Nate Quarry, Kenny Florian, Josh Koscheck, Chris Lieben, Diego Sanchez etc. Whilst the season was pretty good, it’s the finale that really shined. Forrest Griffin (one of my all time favourite fighters) and Steffan Bonner were the two Light Heavyweight fighters due to fight for the UFC contract (and a Harley as is customary).
In what Dana White describes as the most important fight in the UFC’s history, these two men waged war for three rounds. Both men refusing to quit and throwing everything they had. Consequently they captured the publics imagination and helped launch the UFC to a new audience.
ARISE SIR ROBBIE
Over the last 15 years there have been so many good fights and so many good fight cards. I’m sure you can pick out a different one and highlight the reasons why you loved a particular fight. The likelihood is I’ll probably agree with you. For me, my favourite fight is Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald.
Every second was an exercise in beautiful brutality. Both guys threw everything they had at each other. Blood was spilled all over the octagon.
It was extremely intense, for evidence look at the end of round, I forget which one. The bell rung and both men stared at each other. It was a look of daggers. If looks could kill, both men would have hit the deck.
Going into the final round, I had the challenger, Rory, winning the fight. Quite how both men were standing at this point, I will never know. Eventually the champ threw a jab which connected with Rory’s nose which he had broken earlier in the fight. MacDonald hit the deck and the champion retained. Both men have my respect though.
Check out the fight here (warning: not for the feint hearted)
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BONES
For this section I am not going to pick one moment in time. I am going to pick one man and his hall of shame. A man who could (and should) have sections in both the good and bad, Jon Jones.
Jon is one of the most naturally gifted fighters you can imagine, tall, quick, explosive, deceptively strong, a huge reach advantage over most of his peers, talented, unpredictable and with a highlight reel (against the very best) that most can only dream of. He really does have it all; he is arguably one of the best of all time, if not the best…. And yet his career will forever be inextricably linked with his misdemeanors.
It’s hard to know how to react with Jon, I am a huge fan. Like I said he is a supreme talent, but all of the evidence for the prosecution is there… testing positive for cocaine, alleged marijuana usage, hit and run, refusing to take a short notice fight with Chael Sonnen (and the subsequent cancellation of the card), his latest failed test and much much more.
In my mind Jon will go down as one of the greatest examples of sucess from the Zuffa era and also one of the biggest disappointments. I’m not sure who said it but… “If I died tomorrow, I would want Jon to be a pall bearer so he can let me down one more time”.
YO! Mr White, When Am I Gone Get Paid?
“You think I don’t want to pay boxing levels of pay?” I’m fairly certain that isn’t the exact words that Dana White said, but the general gist is the same.
Unfortunately the evidence is highly skewed against you Mr White. Fighter pay has increased recently at the top level. Let’s exclude Brock Lesnar’s UFC 200 pay, but the upper guys like Conor, Cormier, etc. Most are now regularly getting highly paid.
But the evidence for the guys lower on the podium is not so good. Angela Lee the teenage prodigy at ONE FC is reportedly on more than Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Roy Nelson has been with the UFC for multiple years, yet his pay didn’t reflect the level of support he had (at least until recently – I haven’t researched what his recent fights have brought him).
This is all relatively disappointing, but it gets worse. If you are a UFC chosen one in the Zuffa era, you will get paid (sometimes disproportionate to your level). Sage Northcutt is a good example. I love Sage, he is a fun guy having a great time…. but is he worth more than Nate Diaz was on before the Conor fight? Not for me.
Ultimately I believe Zuffa were good for the sport. Under their guidance the sport has grown exponentially and has reached new audiences. We have cross over stars such as Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Paige vanZant. Over the course of Conor’s dispute with the UFC before UFC 200, multiple people asked me about the situation, which just goes to prove, UFC and MMA has become big news to people. What is your favourite UFC moment of the Zuffa era?