Here’s something I found fascinating: “If Barao beats Cruz in their inevitable title unification bought, Brazil will have more champions in their country than all the other champions combined.”
I love the humility in the UFC. It was fully evident after UFC 149 failed to meet fan expectations. Dana White’s honest comments in the post-fight press conference, along with apologies from Saturday night’s main card fighters, really showed the heart of those responsible for bringing the best fight cards in the recent era of combat sports. “The undercard delivered, they were awesome”, said Dana. “The main card did not.”
Failed fight cards have only happened a few times in the UFC’s 20 year history, but it happens on regular basis in sports such as boxing. Unfortunately their promoters seem content to collect PPV buys and lie about uneventful fight nights. “I said this the other day and its true: We make money,” said Dana. “This company makes money, and I like breaking records. We broke the gate record tonight and I’m embarrassed by it. I was excited when I heard and now I’m embarrassed.”
Starting with the main event, I was disappointed to be reminded once again of the end of Urijah Faber’s reign over the lighter weight divisions when he dropped a very unanimous decision to Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title. Faber was a great champion and has earned his place as one of the all-time greats. Not surprisingly though, Brazil vicariously harvested another UFC belt in the process. That’s a whopping 4 out of the 8 current belts in the UFC.
Barao has single handedly breathed new life in the bantamweight division with his win over Faber. People criticize Faber yet he played a crucial role in keeping the lighter weight classes relevant for many years. Looking forward: If Barao beats Cruz, the country of Brazil will have more champions in their country than all the other champions combined. More importantly, Cruz finally has a serious threat to his belt.
Matthew “Deep Waters” Riddle won submission of the night by arm triangle in a brilliant performance. Before the third round finish though, referee Josh Rosenthal mistook a legal body kick for an illegal blow to the groin, rendering Chris Clements hurt and probably done. After stopping the fight and viewing the replay, the kick was deemed legal and the action was then continued. Fortunately for Riddle, he found another opportunity to finish the fight.
“If this doesn’t get fixed, it just absolutely crushes the sport,” said Dana. “It’s so bad. These athletic commissions are put in place to provide judges and referees to be fair, to know what they’re doing, to be professional.” Dana was also critical of Yves Lavigne’s decision to allow Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan to hold each other against the cage for three rounds. “If they’re not fighting, you break them up and make them fight,” said Dana. “We’re talking about guys that are experienced, who have enough fights by now. Yves Lavigne was horrendous tonight.”
The Refereeing and judging have been a serious problem in MMA and combat sports in general. Just look at boxing’s biggest pay-per-view fight of the year when Timothy Bradley was given the nod in a decision victory over Manny Pacquiao. He was clearly outpointed and the judges utterly failed at their jobs once again.
I know I began this story by claiming I would focus on the positive points and honestly, I believe I have. The problem with the judging and refereeing in the sport is only a problem if it is ignored. The UFC’s reaction is a strong indication that the sport is alive, healthy, and ready to embrace any true criticism to ensure it survives for the benefit of future generations of fans.
Even the Hector Lombard situation is fitting. After dropping a close decision to Tim Boetsch he clearly isn’t the most deserving contender to face Anderson Silva at this point. Maybe contenders will try harder due to lost opportunities such as Lombard’s lost title chances? Either way, I can guarentee you the other top contenders in the middle weight division were watching, and hopefully will provide us with a clearer cut number one contender soon.
Watch below as Dana White discusses UFC 149 at the post fight press conference.
VIDEO COURTESY OF THE UFC and WWW.MMAHEAT.COM