During the last few months, the media has done a remarkable job of taking aim at the UFC and the perceived marginal cards the company has presented for pay-per-view consumption.
Each challenge to the value of an event contained references to the injuries and illnesses that had stripped a number of shows of their marquee names.
Of course, those references usually came after mentions of how the world was coming to an end, how criminal it was for the UFC to ask for $49.99 for a certain card, and how they were failing to live up to the lofty standards spoiled fans had come to expect over the years.
Yes, I said spoiled.
Now, after coming through an injury-plagued final four months of 2009, the UFC is poised to put on two tremendous shows in the opening quarter of 2010, and the media will surely be singing the praises of Dana White, Joe Silva, and the UFC once again.
Somewhere between now and UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, a mass mea culpa from the media is deserved, though it will never come.
While some will ask, "Why?" and make reference to the media's job of questioning everything and offering no free passes, for me, the truth is that offering up such a statement would go a long way to not only increase the credibility of those in the industry, but also give Dana White and the UFC a nugget of credit in a forum where they are mostly put under the microscope.
First and foremost, I'm not trying to say that the members of the MMA media are without credibility. As a whole, they are an extremely talented and credible collection of journalists, and a group that I would one day like to count myself as part of, though opinion pieces like this may hurt my chances.
We live in a society of constant criticism and negative reporting; the heart-warming stories come at the end of the news and on the back pages of the few remaining newspapers, while scandals, crises and criticisms garner the bulk of the attention.
Retractions are printed in fine print and stuffed in a corner.
Remind me, was that because White and Silva wanted to be jerks and keep their stars away from the fans, or because a rash of injuries, illnesses, and the acting bug swarmed the company?
UFC 105 was free, and anything that you get for free is better than nothing. Arguing the strength of a fight card that delivered seven free fights is like debating how good free pizza tastes.
They were free—accept them with a smile and move on.
While Ortiz vs. Griffin 2 wasn't as exciting or "long-awaited" as the UFC hype-machine made it out to be, it sure was better than Ortiz vs. Coleman 1 would have been.
From where I was sitting—my couch, next to my wife and dog—UFC 107 was a pretty strong card, with the destruction of Diego Sanchez at the hands (and shin) of the best lightweight on the planet serving as the final act.
We saw the debut of the bulked-up, Brock-ready Frank Mir in a wholly expected submission of Cheick Kongo , Kenny Florian stop a battered and bloodied Clay Guida, and a solid opening bout between Paul Buentello and Stefan Struve.
Jon Fitch may have put a few people to sleep by doing what he always does right in the middle of the event, but still, a pretty solid show all in all.
Lastly, the much-maligned UFC 108 was a highly-entertaining night of fights, with nine of the ten fights on the program ending up on the PPV broadcast.
My colleague Zak Woods at Watch Kalib Run actually viewed that as a negative, somehow being frustrated by the opportunity to re-watch fights he had previously enjoyed on SpikeTV in addition to the five fights he paid to see.
No, we're not a spoiled group at all.
Yes, the results went pretty much according to Hoyle, and the main event stumbled a little, but here's the thing: would you have liked the UFC to cancel the card entirely?
While I accept the "put it on Spike for free" argument—especially as a big fan of all things free—the UFC doesn't air major North American events on Spike, and we all know that.
Was it as awesome as the traditional New Years shows we've gotten in the past? No, but those cards weren't pulled apart by injuries. This one was.
While Sherdog addressed the "I told you so moment" Dana White was able to enjoy following the completion of UFC 108, on the whole, the tremendous job the UFC has done in navigating the injuries and illnesses over the last few months has gone unspoken.
A number of outlets will surely feature a story on the poor numbers that UFC 108 is undoubtedly going to post, and that too seems a little disingenuous.
If enough of the experts and respected voices in the business pan an event, it goes without saying that a great number of people are going to take their opinions as law and avoid said event like the plague.
It's like high school: everyone looks to the cool kids for how to act, and sure enough, loads of followers end up copying their every action.
Accept it—there are a lot of lemmings in the world.
So if influential voices from Sherdog and Sports Illustrated and Yahoo are all telling fans to keep away from UFC 108, criticizing the value of the card and bitching about the cost, a number of people who were planning on purchasing the event undoubtedly had a "well, if they say it's crappy, I won't buy it" moment, and missed an entertaining event.
Not as entertaining as it could have been, but far more entertaining than a Saturday night without any fights.
I'm not saying we need to throw a parade or anything, but where is the harm in offering up a few words of acknowledgment for coming through a difficult stretch with some quality fights?
Congratulations on getting through the last few months and putting on some solid cards. You were right, we were wrong. The crow needs a little salt.
Looking forward to the upcoming events; they all look pretty stacked.
All the best in 2010,
—UFC Fans and Media Who Ripped on You for Three Months
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