When the UFC first came to Toronto, the result was quite simply epic.
Biggest crowd in North American MMA history. Biggest live gate in UFC history. An estimated million-plus buys on PPV. A packed Toronto crowd actually having reason to attend a sporting event during playoff season.
Those were just some of the accolades of this April’s UFC 129, which pretty much set the bar for all MMA events to follow. It was also, for my money (about $250 of it, to be exact) the most fun UFC event of the year. And that’s including GSP vs. Shields, which enthralled me (who’s going to win the wrestling battle? Who, damnit? WHO?) while most of the crowd was dunking their heads in arena beer just to stay awake.
So, it stands to reason that the UFC’s follow-up to 129 in Toronto has to be big. Living up to big first impressions and all that.
That’s one theory. The other one—the one Dana White and company seem to adhere to—goes something like “Canadians are bonkers for MMA! Who needs pesky things like big name stars and title fights? Lets just have guys in board shorts beating each other up in a cage and those mother-Canuckers will show up all the same!”
I don’t honestly know which theory is the more accurate. I have a feeling we’re about to find out.
UFC 140 is set to be the promotion’s return to Toronto less than a year after UFC 129. Last time, the UFC brought two title fights, three main events, and 3 of the top 5 P4P fighters in the sport. This time, they’re bringing the brothers Nogueira, Frank Mir, and Tito freakin’ Ortiz.
So here’s the question: Is UFC 140 a fun card with plenty of interesting fights, or a “Fight Night” worthy dud being foisted upon hungry MMA crowds north of the border? In my typical unbiased journalistic style (I can hear you snickering, damnit), I’ll take a look at either side of this argument, starting with:
It’s a Dud:
Here’s a fun little fact: Remember that fight featuring a man with an upwards arrow made of body hair vs. the guy rocking a banana hammock so…hammocky?…that even Chippendale’s dancers were shaking their heads in disbelief?
Yeah, BOTH those guys are fighting on the 140 card. How much does Joe Silva love you, Toronto?
Yes despite being the only UFC fighter in memory to have his, ahem, “corner man” actually make the air of a live PPV broadcast, Dennis Hallman has been given another shot in the UFC. He’ll be taking on Canadian kickboxing standout John Makdessi, hopefully sporting fighting and not professional swimming attire. Here’s hoping Makdessi ends it before Hallman can tag in his Dong Hyun Kim, if you catch my drift.
And Ebersole, the human up-vote? He’s facing red hot prospect Rory MacDonald, probably because UFC brass figured a fight would be more entertaining for fans than filling the Octagon with water and watching Rory tread water for 15 minutes. Same difference, really.
Is that Nik Lentz I see lurking on the main card of a UFC PPV? Wow, uh, ok. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t he pretty much alternate his time between killing the sport of MMA with his wall n’ stall and getting Ric Flair’d by Charles Oliveria?
Mark Hominick vs. Chan Jung Sung is a tragic case of the UFC feeding its two biggest stars at featherweight outside the champ to each other. So rather then building up “The Korean Zombie” and Hominick into stars who can frame the division for years to come, we get an entertaining scrap and a “name” face who will be far away from any title shot for a good long while. Can’t these guys just take turns beating up Leonard Garcia until they get a title shot?
Then there’s Tito vs. Little Nog, which is a stellar and relevant battle of LHW’s who are 3-5 in their combined last 8 fights. Wow. The only thing that makes this fight worse is you just know there’ll be fans there who still think Tito Ortiz is the s*it, and who think both Nogueiras are the same person.
And then the main event, Frank Mir vs. Minotauro Nogueira II. This isn’t a title fight, a #1 contender’s fight, or even a fight in the top 5 of the division. But hey, both guys are at least kinda sorta name players to the casual fan, and at least both guys are coming off a win. If that’s your standard for $49.99 PPV events, then congratulations, this card is dy-no-mite.
It’s a Good Card:
Ok, time to take off the negative Nancy hat—and about time, because all that pessimism was starting to make me feel surly. Sherdog forum surly.
Here’s a fun little fact (the sequel!): Nik Lentz is actually pretty damn exciting. Yeah, he once stunk up the house by exposing the outstanding British wrestling of Andre Winner. But the dude’s also been in some damn exciting fights, especially against BJJ guys. Mark Bocek is, it just so happens, a standout BJJ guy, and just the right guy to make this fight really fun.
Rory MacDonald has the potential to be a “Jon Jones”-esque figure at welterweight. But like Jones, he needs to be brought up the right way, and gain the kind of exposure and experience a young gun like him needs. Besides, as long as his training partner Georges St.-Something or other is ruling the division with an iron pillow fist, why not have him tread water in some fun fights? Besides, Ebersole has over 50 professional fights and is on a 9-fight win streak. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Hominick vs. Chan Jung Sung is going to be an all-out war. I just don’t see any other way of this fight going down. And let’s be real here—Hominick is likely to take this one, resulting in a crowd-pleasing moment for the Toronto crowd. And “The Korean Zombie” will, like Stephan Bonnar and Kimbo Slice and a host of other MMA luminaries, always be a star regardless of his W/L record.
Tito Ortiz vs. Little Nog is a fun fight. Yes, you could make an argument that both of these guys are “over the hill”, and only getting a co-main event placement on their names alone. But so what? There’s still a question to be answered in this fight: which guy will move back “into the mix” and which guy truly is “done”. This is a senior’s circuit fight, but so was Couture vs. (Big) Nogueira back in the day, and what a war that was.
And finally, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty pumped for Mir vs. Big Nog II. The night of their first clash was one of the most jarring for the “Pride never die!” crowd. Seeing both Wanderlei Silva and Minotauro Nogueira get stretched in one evening was a little much for the Japanophile in all of us.
It turned out Nogueira was battling a staph infection going into that fight, casting doubt on the validity of the first fight. With both guys at 100%, this fight is still very stylistically interesting. Who is the better grappler? Who is the better striker? Who hits harder? Whose cardio will falter first?
Those are all questions that hover over this fight. If you’re a serious MMA fan (oh snap, I just played that card) you’re going to want answers to those questions.