(While 406 votes may not seem that significant, first consider that this screenshot was taken within an hour of the poll’s creation, and all 111 votes for Dana White were placed by one person. You know who.)
UFC 152 is still three days away, yet I already feel something churning within the deepest regions of my stomach, something I haven’t felt in quite some time when dealing with a UFC card: Excitement. Maybe even nervousness. While at least some of the mixed emotion can be attributed to a few names featured on the card that I always like to watch throw down (specifically: Stann, Belfort, Benavidez, and Hettes), I can’t help but feel as if the main source of my excitement is completely disconnected from the card itself, as if any card could bring me this kind of joy. I feel like I did in the days before a UFC event four or five years ago, and I guarantee that a good percentage of you are feeling it too.
And I imagine you know why you’re feeling it. It’s because the cancellation of UFC 151 was responsible for the largest gap between UFC cards in nearly two years, and was ultimately a good move by the UFC.
At the risk of retreading old ground, I’ll admit that I was quick to throw haterade on Jon Jones for his decision to not fight Chael Sonnen in the days that followed it, and still feel a little disdain toward the champ for doing so. But now that I’ve had some time to digest the situation in its entirety, I’ve come to at least appreciate both Jones’ and the UFC’s decision — as conflicting as it is to say so — and here are the main reasons why.
1. Cancelling UFC 151 saved us from another “garbage-ass” card:
This general opinion is both why many fans were quick to defend Jones/lambaste Dana White and ironically the best reason that we were spared UFC 151 in favor of UFC 152. As BG so eloquently phrased it, UFC 151 was kind of garbage-ass, so let’s take a look at what we would have been dealing with had it transpired:
Now let’s take a look at what we’ll be treated to this weekend, God willing:
Top to bottom, UFC 152 is pretty freakin’ stacked. The only fight on the main card that doesn’t immediately scream fireworks is Hamill vs. Hollett, and the fact that it features an inspirational figure like Hamill attempting a career comeback should be enough to get most fans interested in the matchup. On the undercard, we’ll get to see the UFC return of TUF 8 finalist and true M-1 Light Heavyweight champ Vinny Magalhaes against powerful/streaking slugger Igor Pokrajac, another chance to see the ever-improving phenom Jimy Hettes, as well as crowd-pleasers like Kyle Noke, Walel Watson, and Evan Dunham.
Is the main event still a squash match? Sure, but Vitor Belfort has a way better chance at dethroning Jon Jones than Sonnen ever did, and in much more exciting fashion. And I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather see the inaugural flyweight title fight as my co-main than Jay Hieron vs. Jake Ellenberger (all due respect), even though no one seems to be talking about either.
2. Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Like I previously stated, part if not most of my excitement (and what I imagine is the case for many of you) truly has little to do with who I will be watching, but merely the fact that I will be watching any high-level fights. While this is not exactly a point I can prove using any kind of empirical data, we’ve discussed the possibility of over-saturation in the UFC before and a good percentage of you seemed to agree that the frequency of UFC cards was having the opposite of the desired effect when it came to the frequency at which you purchased them. By simply giving UFC 152 a little time to stew and gain hype — the latter of which could at least partially be attributed to the awesome fan made trailers for the event — the UFC will more than likely reap the pay-per-view rewards of an unprecedented (as of late) month long gap in between cards come fight night.
Will it be Sonnen-level buys? Maybe so, maybe not, but by a show of hands, how many of you Taters plan on purchasing UFC 152 this weekend or at least traveling to the nearest bar to catch it? It’s probably a higher percentage than you would imagine given the headlining matchup at hand.
3. SQUASH MATCHES ARE AWESOME
You guys want a return to the PRIDE mentality? You want some good old fashioned freak show fights? How about a main event where the champion is currently listed at -800 over the challenger? Not good enough? How about a -1350 deathmatch featuring Anderson Silva and this guy? Whether the UFC is aware of it or not, they have slowly begun to adopt the mindset that made PRIDE so balls-to-the-wall awesome. Mainly, serving up a squash match or two to help the audience digest all of the “fair fights” that have been plauging the UFC as of late. They’re even bringing back the ref cam…eventually. And as soon as the UFC decides to throw caution to the wind and embrace this old-school mentality with 100% enthusiasm, it can only mean two things:
1) Martinez vs. Zimmer II
2) The UFC return of a certain Japanese HLUK-slaying legend.
So yes, the cancellation of UFC 151 was actually a good thing for the fans of the sport, excluding of course those who wound up with a hotel room, flight, and other expenses that they could not back out of. But like they say, to make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs, and do I really need to explain why the UFC needs this sort of omelette?