It seems recently that to consider yourself a contemporary fight fan means to sink hours upon hours of your life into sub par events, headlined by unestablished names and ‘rough around the edges’ fighters.
Now, I’m not against watching two no name guys slug it out, considering that once upon a time, like most things in life, the now well established fighters were once no name guys as well. GSP, for example, was not always the recognised name and face that he is now; he earned that right by fighting hard and representing a fledgling sport in a fantastically humble manner.
But with the influx of of fight cards, it’s hard to argue against the over saturation that MMA is now finding itself in. With multiple cards taking place every other week and some actually occurring on the same day (!!!), MMA has found itself in a position where the ‘hardcore’ fan is struggling to justify the three hour incremenets in which to watch each card. Too many cards, in too quick a succession simply dilutes the product, which is why it’s refreshing to see that tonights UFC 175 actually matters.
UFC 175 features a Championship Middleweight clash as its main event between defending Champion, Chris Weidman, and challenger Lyoto Machida.
What makes the event so interesting is the ‘must win’ situation both guys find themselves in. Chris Weidman is a solid fighter, undefeated and with a fantastic wrestling base, who managed to do what so many others couldn’t: he defeated “The Spider”, Anderson Silva. Twice.
The argument I propose however, is that Weidman will always have two asterisks next to each of those wins. The first win coming down to Anderson Silva’s arrogance, allowing him to fall victim to his own hubris (the undeniable buzzword used at the time). A game plan to frustrate Weidman into making a mistake that, in turn, cost him his belt. The second victory over Silva came from a freak accident as he checked a low leg quick, ending with Silva’s leg breaking and wrapping around the solid oak leg that seems to comprise Weidman’s leg.
Hubris and an unfortunate victim of circumstance led Silva to a long road to recovery on the sidelines, and Weidman retaining not only his undefeated streak, but also his belt. Weidman is a good fighter, and seems to be a great guy; humble out of the octagon, which is a strength for any MMA competitor. There are too many assholes who are poor representatives for the sport, so it’s always great to see someone conduct themselves as a gentleman outside of the fight. That being said, however, Weidman needs to win. He also needs to earn an emphatic victory, be it via KO, TKO or Submission. A decision won’t be enough to convince anyone, and hopefully there won’t be another freak occurrence that leaves Machida injured. In order for Weidman to truly solidify himself as a champion, and in my, and so many other fight fans’ eyes, finally emerge as a deserving champ, it’s imperative that he wins.
Conversely, Machida has been ripping up the Middleweight division since dropping down in weight. He’s never looked so good in the octagon; stronger, faster, leaner, his drop down in weight class is exactly what the former Light Heavyweight Champion needed in order to reignite his career. Knocking out Mark Munoz and grinding out a Decision against Mousasi has found Machida in the number one contendership spot (despite currently being ranked on the ‘official’ UFC Rankings as #3, with Vitor Belfort coming in at #2 and Silva at #1), and he needs to make the most of it. If he were to lose tonight, he would find himself sliding down that rankings board, with a long road ahead of him to claw his way back near the top of contendership consideration. Machida was an enigma for so long in the Light Heavyweight division; the majority of 2009/2010 consisted of people unable to figure out how to deal Machida’s unique, karate inspired, fighting style. Until Shogun Rua at UFC 113.
Since dropping down a weight class however, Machida has become an instinctual killer in the ring. His pacing and attack have evolved, allowing him another interesting dimension to his already unorthodox fighting style; and that’s what makes tonight such an interesting contest.
Neither man can afford to lose tonight, yet one inevitably will. Stakes are high for both heading into the octagon for UFC 175 and, for this reason, I find myself actually excited for tonights fights, rather than simply resigning myself to another three hours of potential tedium.
Sure, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is defending her title, and Uriah Hall is on the card as well, but the main event is, as it should be, the drawing point for so many people, and it’s nice to have a stacked card of fights people can be genuinely stoked for. At this point, it’s just a countdown until Bruce Buffer yells out those immortal words, “It’s Tiiiiiiiimmmmeeeee!”
I can’t wait.