As an avid MMA fanatic who currently resides in Boston, admittedly, I was initially a bit disappointed by the fight card that the UFC announced it will be bringing to the Hub for its Fox Sports 1 debut on August 17.
Maybe it was all the talk about the possibility of a champ like Jon Jones or Benson Henderson getting the nod to headline the summer event at the TD Garden—or perhaps it was just me acting as a spoiled fan—but I was expecting more from these bouts, especially after UFC president Dana White said that it would be "the biggest card on free television that we’ve ever done."
Although the line-up features a plethora of former Zuffa title holders and TUF alums, the fact that eight of the 12 main card fighters are coming into this event off of losses made me feel uneasy about the promotion's kick-off on FS1 this summer.
But once my fan-boy side simmered down and I took the time to reevaluate the fights, I am now actually pretty pumped for the UFC's next trip to Boston.
Like really, super pumped.
True, many of the athletes on the main card have seen their stock fall in recent months due to losses, but it's not like they are coming in with Leonard Garcia-style losing streaks. In fact, if this line-up had been announced just a few months prior, critics and fans alike would be praising the promotion for putting together such a stacked event.
However, there always seems to be a "what have you done for me lately" mentality with us fickle MMA enthusiasts.
For example, headliners Chael Sonnen and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua may be a combined 4-5 over the past three years, but each of those defeats—and even most of the wins—have come against the best of the best in their respective divisions.
There's a difference between having back-to-back losses against the likes of Jon Jones and Anderson Silva and having back-to-back losses to middle of the pack fighters, so maybe we should cut the main eventers a little bit of slack.
The same goes for the night's co-main event.
Every MMA fan and their mother was excited to see Alistair Overeem finally grace the Octagon in December of 2011. But after one unexpected, yet brutal, knockout loss—and let's not forget his positive drug test prior to UFC 146—"The Reem" has lost a ton of support.
Think what you will of the Dutch striker, but his recent misfortunes shouldn't completely dissuade viewers from tuning in. Before fans completely write him off, we should give Overeem a chance to see if he can get back to his glory days, like when he was putting people to sleep as the K-1 and Strikeforce heavyweight champ.
As for the card as a whole, critics need to consider that there is a former UFC champ, a former Strikeforce champ, two former WEC champs, a TUF winner and plenty of TUF alums that will be fighting in Boston—not to mention one of the sport's best trash-talkers, as well as a certain budding Irish prospect.
With names like Sonnen, Overeem, Conor McGregor, Urijah Faber and more set to do battle at the TD Garden, on paper, this card could rival most of the UFC's recent pay-per-views.
For me, the only true gripe I have with this event is the lack of featured local talent.
Sure, Boston-area native Joe Lauzon and Irishman McGregor will be on the card, but that's about it. I would love to see Team Link's Gabriel Gonzaga of Ludlow, MA be featured at this show, or even the UFC return of Dorchester's own John Howard.
But, even without featuring a lot of hometown fighters, this card is still quite stacked for a free, televised event.
Sure, fans may be a bit weary since many of the fighters are coming into the summer event following losses, but that should make fans even more excited because athletes almost always do their best when their backs are against the wall. And, if these fighters want to stay employed by the UFC, you can bet that they are going to bring their all on August 17.
Not to mention one of the sport's best trash-talkers, as well as a certain budding Irish prospect.