5.) New Television Deal Officially Begins
Even though the UFC has already debuted on Fox back in December, this was the true start of the broadcasting deal with the prelims starting to air on FX. It was business as usual for the UFC, with only the names changed. The big thing is hearing the next few broadcasts either being on Fox of FX. It wasn't as apparent when the UFC first aired on Fox, but now, with actual fight cards coming up, it's a big deal to see the UFC promoting their fights on a major network. This truly was the beginning of the relationship, and honestly, it went as well as it could.
4.) Weak Card Provides Strong Entertainment
Fellow columnist Rich Hansen said it best when he asked how the UFC can expect fans to buy the PPV at $50 a pop, and feel that they are getting a quality card, when the card is built around two fights. Granted, this card provided loads of entertainment with instant-classic knockouts and slick submissions. The problem is that maybe less than a quarter of the fans that more than likely bought the Lesnar vs. Overeem card saw this fight. Most probably passed on it due to not knowing enough about the fighters on the undercard, and the dominance of fighters such as Jose Aldo as a "well, he's obviously going to win because of...". In the future, I hope that the UFC see's this and does its best to make the general public and casual MMA fan know as much as they can about their undercard fighters. There's always the chance that the fighters don't deliver, which has happened in the past, and the UFC would do very well to avoid that as much as possible by loading their cards, and making their lesser-known fighter, well, well-known.
3.) The Fans
When the UFC holds cards in other countries, it's an experience that most will never get to see. The crowds at these fights are unreal because they truly feel appreciative of the UFC when they hold their cards there. I know from personal experience when the UFC goes to a new city (in my case, Fight for the Troops '08 in Fort Bragg, NC) they are more animated and into the every single fight, more than when you watch it from a normal place such as Las Vegas or Sacramento, which have housed numerous fights. The Brazillian crowd was intense. They truly live for MMA, and are passionate about the sport and their fighters. Seeing the fights from places that the UFC normally holds cards, it's nice to see a crowd SO into it, that as a viewer, it made you feel as you were there.
2.) Referees Have Long Night
Though many fans have called for the head of Mario Yamasaki due to his controversial call in the Erick Silva fight, some have even questioned the stand ups that Dan Miragliotta did during the Anthony Johnson vs. Vitor Belfort fight. All in all, I honestly feel that both referees were trying to do the right thing, whether it was the right call or not. Joe Rogan immediately called Yamasaki out for the DQ decision, and Yamasaki stated that it was a judgement call that he felt was needed to make. Granted, that rule of shots to the back to the head is very murky when it comes to enforcing it. Because it is not usually enforced, it seems that when it is enforced, that for the refs, fighters, and fans, there is some confusion as to why this would be called, but then later in the night, something similar can happen, yet go on because the interpretation of the rule is different for the ref. Miragliotta standing Johnson and Belfort up while working in the guard was definitely questionable, as they both were working to improve their position or pass guard. One thing that gets overlooked is how the crowd can sometimes overwhelm the refs when calling a fight. Many times we have seen refs stand up fighters when they are on the ground working, yet, are forced to stand up because the ref hears the overwhelming boos from the crowds and feels the need to react and give them what they want. I'm not saying that's what happened with Miragliotta, but clearly, an overwhelming crowd like Brazilians can easily make one feel the need to give the fans what they want.
1.) Brazilians Have Landmark Night
If you're Brazilian and a UFC fighter, you may want to have all your fights in Brazil. The Brazilians came out in full force with all the main card fighters (excluding Erick Silva who lost via DQ) winning in impressive fashion for their countrymen. Even undercard fighters such as Gabriel Gonzaga won via a slick submission in a return bout in the UFC. As mentioned earlier, when the UFC goes to different sites, the crowd reactions are second to none, especially in other countries. The UFC also likes to stack their cards with fellow countrymen representative of those places they are in. Brazil is the only country, so far, that has fighters of high caliber that deliver for their fellow countrymen. Though many cards have been held in England, they don't have any fighters outside of Michael Bisping that are of a high enough caliber to consistently win on home soil. Newer and older favorites delivered as Jose Aldo and Vitor Belfort each came up big in their wins in the main events of the card. It would do the UFC well to hold fights in Brazil at least twice a year, as it seems it has done great business for them, and if nothing else, you will never see a crowd reaction like it when you witnessed Jose Aldo run into the crowd, only to be mobbed and hoisted on shoulders as a true champion. That image is something that will stay with you for a long time.