A Fanboys Impression of UFC 87 in Minneapolis
I just got back from UFC 87 in Minneapolis and I have to say that this card was fantastic. The crowd was electric and I love the live UFC experience. By now, you have all seen GSP’s destruction of Fitch, Lesnar’s domination of Herring, and Florian’s climb back up the lightweight ladder, so there is no need to rehash the PPV for you. Instead, I am going to pass on my thoughts from my second row balcony seat at the Target Center.
GSP Pound for Pound #1
Some people pick Anderson Silva and others pick Fedor, but over the last couple of years, no one has beaten as many top-ranked fighters as has St. Pierre. Sure he lost to an unranked Serra (who I met at UFC 87), but remember that Silva lost to a lowly Chonan by an unbelievable flying heel hook 5 years ago. GSP’s decimation of Jon Fitch, the consensus #2 Welterweight in the world, was the most one-sided five round match since Loiseau lost to Franklin.
The UFC put out a press release stating that they broke the Target Center’s gate record but I doubt that they return to Minneapolis very soon. The arena was not sold out, tickets were available on Ticketmaster the day before the event, and a scalper offered me floor seats for $100 each. The NHL Minnesota Wild have sold out 18,500 seats for 300+ consecutive games, the fourth worst team in the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaged almost 16,000 fans last season (1,000 more than UFC 87) in the same arena UFC 87 was held, so the UFC had to expect more from Minny.
In fact, I unscientifically estimate that ¼ to ½ of the fans were fellow Canadians who drove down to see GSP fight. The entire row in front of me was from Regina, the couple beside my wife and I were from Estevan, the group beside us were from Winnipeg, and our Canadian border guard said hundreds of cars passed through his station alone coming from UFC 87. If GSP did not headline the card, this arena may have been half full. I am surprised that the home town boys, Brock and Huerta, could not sell out this building.
On a Rampage
During the pre-fight press conference, Dana White was defending Rampage Jackson’s recent troubles with the law and suggested that woman who miscarried a week after Jackson hit her car was in the wrong for suing Jackson. Dana needs some PR courses as he really should distance himself from the former light-heavyweight champ. At the fights, Jackson was an attention whore – constantly ripping off layers of T-shirts he was wearing (it seemed like 5 different ones) and getting up mid-fight to talk to different sections. I do not know if Dana told him to get back into the spotlight and act as if nothing is wrong, but from my second row balcony seat it sure seemed like what Rampage needs is a psychologist’s couch.
Rock Out with your Brock Out
How would you feel after getting knocked down so ferociously that you do a backwards somersault and then see a 280 lb hulk with beef jerkey sponsored shorts flying through the air at you? That would be scarier than any of the coaster rides at the Mall of America. If I were Heath Herring, I would have crapped my underwear.
Why the complaints about Lesnar failing to finish? He made hamburger meat of Herring’s face. The complaints should be directed towards Herring whose game plan seemed to be, “If I get knocked down, turtle.” Brock did his homework and realized that Herring is great at escaping from the bottom, so he did not put his back hooks in. Herring should have gone to Plan B. Too bad he did not seem to have one.
2. Forrest Griffin (on the big screen during the fantastic UFC-produced Teenage Wasteland fight montage that is shown prior to every UFC)
3. Brock Lesnar
4. Roger Huerta
5. Cheick Kongo
• My fight of the night was MacDonald vs. Maia. While many in the crowd booed the ground action, I feel that this was the best grappling battle that I have seen in 2008. Maia looks great and I would love to see him face Henderson or Kampmann next.
• USA, USA !!! Why was this being chanted by some of the crowd during the aforementioned MacDonald (Canada) / Maia (Brazil) scrap?
• Good to see Manny Gamburyan lose. During his last win against Jeff Cox, Manny went to touch his opponent’s glove like a good sportsman only to take them down at the last second to land a kick. Manny got a good helping of karma at UFC 87 as he left his chin out and Emerson tagged him hard to knock him out in 12 seconds.
• I had never heard of Jon Jones, but I do now. This athletic light-heavyweight was supposed to be just a wrestler. His striking was a little unpolished but was really exciting in his win over Andre Gusmao, who was undefeated in the IFL prior to this loss. Jones landed spinning back fists and kicks and many other strikes in a performance that made Gusmao look like he was fighting for the first time.
• I thought Florian/Huerta had fight of the year potential. Ken “I finish fights” Florian, had the strategy to get in, inflict damage, get out, and win on points, while Huerta, of famed strategist Greg Jackson’s camp, was not aggressive and seemed to throw about 8 superman punches that all missed. Rarely do these highly anticipated matches live up to expectations. I only recall Alvarez/Kawajiri and Torres/Maeda living up to the pre-fight hype in recent months.
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