Commissioners Tim Finchem and Dana White announce "groundbreaking" PPV event!
It’s a stroke of genius, really.
PGA Tour and UFC officials made the startling announcement early Monday morning that following this week’s Masters Tournament various professional golfers will square off against the UFC title holders in an unimaginable team cage fighting competition.
As it will be a sanctioned event, the title at each weight class will officially be up for grabs.
Both commissioners, Tim Finchem (PGA) and Dana White (UFC), released a joint statement that provides some insight: “We’re thrilled for the opportunity to combine our sports for this groundbreaking event.
"This has the potential to introduce each of our respective sports to an entirely new fan base. The PGA vs. UFC will be the greatest PPV event in television history.”
They have a point. Although the game of golf boasts a fan base of some 61 million people, the PGA Tour itself has very little opportunity to reap the dividends available to other sports via pay per view sales.
This event will certainly satisfy that ever-increasing demand, while exposing millions of new viewers to MMA.
“I doubt very many people will pay extra to watch golf on TV, and I doubt very many people will tune in to watch cage fighters play golf. This is the best of both worlds, and a fantastic opportunity to partner with the juggernaut UFC.”
Finchem further added, “I think my boys will surprise the MMA world. This isn’t a cash grab. I expect some very competitive fights.”
Commentators for the event, officially billed as “UFC 97: From the Course to the Cage,” will be Johnny Miller and Joe Rogan. Surprisingly, each is proficient in the others’ sport.
Rogan is a scratch golfer and Miller trains with former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz during the off-season in Huntington Beach, CA, where he’s known as “The Silverback.”
To make things more interesting, in a UFC first, Miller will use a telestrator to help describe the action for the novice fight viewer.
Here’s a preliminary breakdown of each title fight, by weight class...
Heavyweight Division (205 lbs – 265 lbs)
Brock Lesnar (265 lbs.) vs. “Long” John Daly (220 lbs.)
This is an interesting contrast in styles. Lesnar is a phenomenal athlete, a rare combination of strength, size and speed. He’s a decorated collegiate wrestler, a former professional wrestler, and former Minnesota Viking from the NFL. Daly isn’t any of those things.
But he was the first PGA Tour player to volunteer to fight, so he got the nod.
Daly has a Tank Abbott like appeal with the fans, almost a cult-like following. And like Tank, if he lands a punch or two in the opening moments, he’s got a chance. Otherwise, he’ll gas-out quickly. I wonder if there will be a beverage cart on hand?
My prediction: In typical Daly fashion, I predict he’ll be swinging for the fence, so you’ve got to give him a punchers chance. I mean honestly, he’s won two Majors that way.
But at the end of the day, Lesnar’s sheer size and brute force will make it tough for Daly to land anything damaging enough to slow him down. The undersized Daly will go down hard, but at least he’ll go down swinging.
Heavyweight undercard –
Frank Mir vs. Tim “Lumpy” Herron
Light Heavyweight Division (185 lbs. – 205 lbs.)
Rashad “Sugar” Evans (205 lbs) vs. Phil “Lefty” Mickelson (200 lbs.)
With both of these fighters we’ve come to expect the unexpected. Exhibit one: Evans’ devastating KO of Chuck Liddell followed up by a TKO victory over then title-holder Forrest Griffin.
Exhibit two: Phil’s shocking 72nd-hole collapse at the 2007 US Open and his ‘credit card’ vertical leap demonstrated at the 2005 Masters.
Who knew he could jump so high?
Evans has an extensive wrestling background, phenomenal speed, and an ever-improving stand up game. Phil is a pretty stand-up guy, and he’s been wrestling with the title of “best player on the planet not named Tiger” for a decade or so. Anything could happen.
My prediction: A Liddell-esque massacre. Phil will go down in a heap of sunscreen and winged hair-early first round. But he’ll collect himself to deliver a very gracious and eloquent post-fight presser.
Light Heavyweight undercard –
“The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine vs. Stewart “Kitchen” Cink
Middleweight Division (170 lbs. – 185 lbs.) – MAIN EVENT
Anderson “The Spider” Silva (185 lbs.) vs. Eldrick “Tiger” Woods (185 lbs.)
It’s said that you’re not truly a UFC champion until you defend your title. Well, no fighter in MMA history has successfully defended his belt more times than Silva. For him, a win over Tiger would be his seventh.
Tiger knows something about defending titles, too. Of his 66 PGA Tour victories, nearly a dozen of them have come by winning the same event in back to back years. In addition to that, he’s won six different events four times each.
Unbelievably, the early line in Las Vegas has Tiger Woods favored here.
This is a dream matchup. Silva and Woods are the most exciting and well rounded athletes, pound for pound, in each of their respective sports and perhaps the world, right now. This fight is definitely deserving of its’ “Main Event” billing.
My prediction: I said a couple weeks ago that Tiger would win on the PGA Tour before the Masters. So far, so good. I’m staying with the hot hand and predicting another Tiger victory.
Silva’s Muay Thai clinch and knee barrage will do some damage. He might even win a round or two. But in the end, banged, bruised, bloodied, adorned in his soon-to-be-famous Sunday-red wrestling singlet and with Stevey Williams in his corner, Eldrick, er, Tiger, will emerge as the victor.
History has proven you just don’t bet against him – not when all eyes are on him.
How’s this sound? Tiger Woods: Masters Champion and UFC Middleweight Champion. Not bad for a weeks’ work.
Middleweight undercard –
Chris “The Crippler” Leben vs. Geoff “Killa G” Ogilvy
Welterweight Division (155 lbs. – 170 lbs.)
Georges “Rush” St-Pierre (170 lbs.) vs. Sergio “El Nino” Garcia (165 lbs.)
This might be the sexiest match-up on the card, and certainly, the fight with the greatest international flair, pitting the French-born Canadian St-Pierre versus the Spaniard Garcia. All the women in the building will likely be frenetic.
Both men have the unique quality of being that guy. Although they’re great, they’re also strangely annoying to the rest of the competitors in their chosen sport.
Maybe it’s because of Sergio’s Ryder Cup dominance against the U.S. that we don’t like him. Maybe it’s because St-Pierre pummeled every fight fan’s favorite welterweight, Matt Hughes – or maybe simply because he’s French.
Maybe it’s just their nasally voices. Who knows? But each guy is as disliked by his peers as he is adored by the ladies.
My prediction: Lots of action! Lots of take downs, superman punches and flying knees. Some amazing submission attempts, and even more amazing escapes. El Nino will catch Rush in several arm-bar situations, but his inability to hold a firm grip will allow St-Pierre to repeatedly escape.
Shades of the Bethpage “re-gripping incident” perhaps.
In the end, a five round thriller. But strangely, neither player will have a bump or bruise. We’ll wonder if they even hit each other, or if it was all for show? The decision: a draw.
Welterweight undercard –
Jon Fitch vs. Camillo “Spiderman” Villegas
Lightweight Division (145 lbs. – 155 lbs.)
BJ “The Prodigy” Penn (155 lbs.) vs.Corey “The Bull Dog” Pavin (150 lbs.)
This could be a pillow fight. Neither of these guys hit hard enough to put the other away. It’s evolution, really...
As the athletes on the PGA Tour have gotten bigger and stronger, and the recent advancements in club and ball technology have made the average length of a player’s drive nearly 300 yards, it’s made it increasingly difficult for the shorter hitters and older players to compete.
Pavin was once the most feared player on the planet – known for his grit, tenacity and shot-making. Unfortunately that style of play doesn’t translate to tour success in this day and age.
Similarly, the UFC started out as a no-weight class free for all. But as the athletes got bigger and fighting styles became more specialized, weight classes became necessary.
Royce Gracie held his own with the big guys for awhile—but when the brutes learned to defend submission attempts the sport was forever changed.
Penn is considered to be one of, if not the, most skilled Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu submission specialists in the game. The truth, however, was recently exposed when he stepped up a weight class and was completely and totally inept to compete against the larger and more athletic Georges St-Pierre.
He just wasn’t big enough to inflict any damage or defend himself.
My prediction: What these guys lack in size, they both make up for in spirit. I predict an intense battle, but ultimately, a dominating performance by Penn.
But unlike what Penn did against St-Pierre, The Bulldog will manage to stave off elimination and pull out a miracle fifth-round, last second submission – reminiscent of the famous five-wood at Shinnecock in 1995. That’s right, Pavin over Penn. You heard it here first.
Lightweight undercard –
Joe “Daddy” Stevenson vs. Charles “Charlie Three Sticks” Howell III
I, for one, can’t wait, and have already ordered the event. $55.95 to witness history in high definition seems like a very small price to pay. In fact, I’ll be collecting money for this event on behalf of both organizations. You can send your check or money order directly to me.
I hope you, too, will join me in cheering on the underdog golfers. I think a few of them have a fighting chance.