As time passes and the sport of MMA grows, one can quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer number of cards that come to pass each calendar year.
While time marches on, some of the best cards (for one reason or another, yet all reasons relative) seem doomed to be forgotten. It’s getting harder and harder to find shows from the past that retain the kind of quality that makes them watchable, and when you go to the UFC store, the number of past shows you can buy is quickly fading.
One can only hope that Zuffa will begin to re-release their back catalogue onto Blu-ray, for just as VHS was eclipsed by DVD, now DVD is being eclipsed by high definition, notably in the form of Blu-ray.
Thus far, the only whole UFC show to get the Blu-ray treatment was UFC 100, and while that was a wonderful present from Zuffa, there are still many cards that deserve to be preserved for the sake of history, not to mention the viewing pleasure of new fans who’ve never gotten to see Randy Couture’s first ever epic brawl with Pedro Rizzo, in addition to countless other great fights that are every bit as thrilling as those of today.
While it seems that Dana White and Zuffa have no real interest in releasing shows that have Blu-ray counterparts to the standard DVD releases, we can only hope. Blu-ray is here to stay, and eventually, regular DVDs will be a thing of the past.
In the spirit of that hope, here are some shows I believe merit the Blu-ray treatment. While many of us might not have gotten to see these shows live, Blu-ray is the next best thing, and like the sport itself, it’s as real as it gets without being there.
The event that started it all should be released and re-mastered on Blu-ray, but who knows how much better it would look, given the source material?
Not all transfers end up looking stellar on Blu-ray, but it would still look better than the standard definition relic that lingers on today.
Still, it seems a given that this event should get a high-def makeover. Throw in some fight-card commentary by legends like Royce Gracie, Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and others, and you’ve got a release that merits the attention and work necessary to bring it up to current standards.
This was truly a great event.
You had two epic middleweight bouts in Dan Henderson vs. Allan Goes and Dan Henderson vs. Carlos Newton, and you had Tank Abbott blasting out Hugo Duarte in a fast-paced bout that was all aggression.
Throw in the bout between Pete Williams and Mark Coleman, ending with the head kick heard around the world, and you have a time capsule-quality card that deserves all the clarity and fine definition Blu-ray can provide.
Here’s another great card that was capped off with the final UFC appearance of Frank Shamrock, as he took on Tito Ortiz in what is still one of the greatest MMA fights to date.
Ortiz had made a name for himself by defeating two of Frank Shamrock’s former students, Jerry Bohlander and Guy Mezger. After the Mezger bout (a rematch), Ortiz donned the now famous shirt “Gay Mezger is my bitch,” which sent Ken Shamrock into a fury.
Many looked at Frank Shamrock as the man to avenge the Lions Den and restore order to the kingdom; the Lions Den was the premier fight club at the time, and the ease by which Ortiz had defeated Bohlander and Mezger seemed to put all of that in question.
While Frank Shamrock told everyone that his bout with Ortiz wasn’t personal, he was only speaking for himself. It seemed very personal for Ortiz and countless fans on both sides of the fence.
UFC 22 saw many questions answered, and in the process, proved both Frank Shamrock and Ortiz to be excellent fighters in their own right.
Another great card full of good fights between big-name fighters, UFC 31 was stacked from top to bottom: BJ Penn vs. Joey Gilbert, Semmy Schilt vs. Pete Williams, Chuck Liddell vs. Kevin Randleman, Shonie Carter vs. Matt Serra and Pat Miletich vs. Carlos Newton.
The heavyweight championship bout between reigning champion Randy Couture and No. 1 contender Pedro Rizzo is still one of the best fight’s I’ve seen in all my years watching the sport of MMA.
This was a great night of fights, and it was worth every penny.
Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock in a fight that was years in the making; what could be more glorious than getting to relive it on Blu-ray?
This was the biggest bad-blood matchup in the history of the sport, and as everyone knows, it helped the UFC pull out of a slump that looked to be the beginning of the end.
It was the passing of the torch, and ironically, it was the last successful title defense Ortiz would make before losing his title to Randy Couture at UFC 44.
The unification of the light heavyweight belts saw the heavily favored Tito Ortiz step back into the Octagon against the first ever interim champion in Randy Couture, and it was a dandy.
The amount of “true believers” that Ortiz had was staggering, and no one seemed to think Randy Couture had any kind of chance.
Five rounds later, Randy Couture showed that even at his late age, no one should ever count out “Captain America.”
In the sport of MMA, it’s very rare to see three excellent fights in one night, even in a company with as much talent on tap as the UFC.
At UFC 116, the fans got just that: three excellent bouts that had them standing and shouting, and for good reason.
Stephan Bonnar won his rematch with Krzysztof Soszynski in an exciting and bloody affair that saw both men slugging it out until Soszynski collapsed and was pounded out by Bonnar.
If that wasn’t enough, Chris Leben scored a dramatic come-from-behind submission victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama via triangle choke just 20 seconds before the end of the bout. Up until the choke, both men had been knocking each other from pillar to post, but Akiyama was ahead on the judges' cards thanks to excellent throws and top control.
Finally, Brock Lesnar engaged in a brutal but brief fight against Shane Carwin. Lesnar survived a rocky first round that had Carwin knocking him down and pounding him bloody before the bell sounded to end the first frame.
Lesnar came out for the second, all smiles, and got a quick takedown and from there secured the victory via arm triangle choke early in Round 2.
From top to bottom, UFC 116 was a card that delivered on all expectations.
Much like UFC 1, the first ever Pride show should become a Blu-ray re-release for historical reasons alone.
Kimo Leopaldo fought Dan Severn, Gary Goodridge blasted out Oleg Taktarov and Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Rickson Gracie fought Nobuhiko Takada.
It wasn’t the best card, but it was the beginning, and how something starts is often every bit as important as how it ends, and Pride FC was something else, from beginning to end.
There are some very good fights on this card, but the main bout that left everyone talking around the Internet was between Renzo Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba, and for good reason.
It was a real pleasure to watch both of these men mix it up, and when you consider how the fight ended, it’s a no-brainer that such a climatic finish would look stunning on Blu-ray, and that is just the treatment such a great bout deserves.
Other fights of note: Wanderlei Silva vs. Guy Mezger, Gary Goodridge vs. Gilbert Yvel and Enson Inoue vs. Igor Vovchanchyn.
Epic is one of the only real words that should be used to sum up the first ever Grand Prix to be seen in the Pride organization.
There were many good fights, but perhaps the biggest of them all was the 90-minute bout between Royce Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba.
Considering how many big names were involved with both nights of this event—Mark Kerr, Mark Coleman, Royce Gracie, Kazushi Sakuraba, Ken Shamrock, Enson Inoue, Wanderlei Silva, Guy Mezger, Igor Vovchanchyn and many others—this was one of those mega-events that held the attention of every MMA fan of that era, and it will never be forgotten.
Taking place over two events (Pride Total Elimination 2003 as the opening round and Pride Final Conflict 2003 as the final rounds), the Pride middleweight Grand Prix was in incredible event that saw some great fights.
You also had Dana White in attendance for both shows, rooting on one of his own, Chuck Liddell, as he fought his way to the semifinal round, only to lose a hard fight to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
White was confident that Liddell was the man to beat reigning Pride king Wanderlei Silva, so he put his money where his mouth was and entered Liddell into the tournament, one of many bold decisions by White that have seen him advance the sport to the level it enjoys today.
But in the end, it’s always about the fights (or at least it should be), and the middleweight Grand Prix delivered in stunning fashion.
You had an excellent bout between Mirko Cro-Cop and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Chuck Liddell vs. Alistair Overeem and later Quinton Jackson, Wanderlei Silva facing Kazushi Sakuraba and Hidehiko Yoshida, Fedor Emelianenko vs. Gary Goodridge, Mirko Cro-Cop vs. Igor Vovchanchyn, Murilo Bustamante vs. Dan Henderson, Kevin Randleman vs. Kazushi Sakuraba and finally Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva for the Grand Prix title.
This event as a boxed set would be fantastic on Blu-ray, as it is already a must-own for any serious MMA fan.
In the end, given so many fights on so many cards, it’s clear that each event merits a Blu-ray revision because each card has something great, be it big or small.
Of course, many may argue against it, but even UFC 33, which many call a disgrace, deserves a Blu-ray make over, if for no other reason than its historical significance. That, and with names like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Matt Serra, Yves Edwards, Jens Pulver and Murilo Bustamante, it was still a stacked card.
From UFC 1 to present day, they all deserve the pest presentation available, and nothing is better than Blu-ray.