Five selling points of the UFC 134 pay-per-view
Brian Ebersole’s chest hair designs made an appearance as a selling point; that should tell you all you need to know. Incidentally, I was pretty disappointed that he stuck to the “hairrow” for a second consecutive bout. C’mon dude, mix it up a little. You ran a contest where fans submitted ideas, but you hit repeat on the UFC 127 design?
This event, however, is not lacking for intriguing elements that could sway your spending decision, should you be in need of last minute swaying.
1. Anderson Silva is Fighting
Here’s the list of people everyone should automatically tune in to see, whenever they step into the cage, regardless of who they’re facing: Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Jose Aldo, and Carlos Condit. People are often torn on guys like Dominick Cruz and Frankie Edgar, and I can appreciate that; they both make my list, but to each their own.
However, Silva is first on that list for a reason. Save for his fights with Patrick Cote and Demian Maia — who should share the “blame” for how people viewed those fights — the UFC middleweight champion always delivers.
His last two fights have been breathtaking. Yes, I said breathtaking. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against Chael Sonnen and then stopping Vitor Belfort courtesy of “The Footercut” back in February stand as perhaps Silva’s best back-to-back performances since knocking out Chris Leben and Rich Franklin in consecutive bouts at the start of what has become his UFC reign of terror.
Do you really want to risk missing something awesome from one of the greatest fighters of all time?
2. Rua vs. Griffin: The Sequel
I wasn’t a huge fan of this fight when it was first announced, but now, I’m actually looking forward to it more than I am the main event. That may sound counter-intuitive following Point #1, but the match-up here is more intriguing to me, whereas Silva alone is the selling point above.
This rematch really does feel like a repeat of the first encounter between these two former light heavyweight champions
Rua is still considered one of the best 205s in the world, coming into this fight looking to reaffirm his place in the pecking order after losing his title to Jon Jones back in March. Right now, “Shogun” probably sits third or fourth in the light heavyweight division, behind Jones and Rashad Evans, and jockeying with Quinton Jackson in the eyes of some, though not me.
Griffin is once again at a “where does he go from here?” stage in his career. The first time around he was coming off an uneventful unanimous decision victory over Hector Ramirez and was a serious underdog. While he brings back-to-back wins over a pre-resurgence Tito Ortiz and Franklin into the cage this time around, Griffin is still the underdog in need of a statement win to establish his place in the division.
Almost every fight these two have been in during their UFC careers has been entertaining — Rua’s battle with Mark Coleman and the aforementioned Ramirez fight excluded — and this one should be no different.
3. End of the Road for Rodrigo Nogueira?
Seeing Nogueira call it a career after his fight with Brendan Schaub — win or lose — would be that surprising to me. The former Pride heavyweight champion is 35-years-old in real life and roughly 74 in fighting terms, having gone through countless wars and battled injuries over the course of his career.
He hasn’t fought since current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez laid him out in Australia in February 2010. After having never been finished, that defeat at UFC 110 was the second consecutive knockout loss for “Big Nog,” sandwiching a solid win over Randy Couture. But that win over the now-retired Couture came two years ago, and it’s hard to see that version of Nogueira continuing to compete at the high end of the heavyweight division.
Personally, this feels like the perfect opportunity for “Minotauro” to take his final bow. Remarkably, this will be the first time he’s fought in Brazil in his professional career, and walking away in front of family, friends and adoring fans in his home country makes sense to me.
It would be a moment that no mixed martial arts fan would want to miss.
4. Recent Track Record
What was the last UFC event that didn’t deliver? Probably UFC 130, right?
That means we’ve been treated to six consecutive events — three pay-per-views — that registered at good or better, with UFC 132 and the Lytle-Hardy show standing as two of the best events of the year so far.
The UFC is on a roll and there is no reason to believe it’s going to stop with this show. The first two fights on the broadcast are very competitive match-ups that should introduce a couple new names to remember moving forward, and I’ve already laid out why the remaining three fights make for must-see-TV as well.
Among the many lessons taught to us by The Hangover — including don’t steal Mike Tyson’s tiger — is that “you never walk away from the table when you’re on the heater.”
The UFC is table. Don’t walk away right now; they’re on fire.
5. “This Place is Electric!” (impending quote from Mike Goldberg)
The atmosphere of this event is going to be bonkers. There may only be 14,000-some-odd fans packed into the HSBC Arena in Rio, but with an event loaded with Brazilians and this being the first UFC event in more than a decade, expect this one to feel more like a World Cup soccer match.
Not only are Brazilians passionate about this sport, they’re knowledgeable too. You know all that annoying booing we hear every time a fight goes to the ground in North America? There’s a good chance we won’t have to deal with it here, what with Brazilian jiu-jitsu being one of the chief ground-fighting art forms and all.
While it would be even crazier if there were a battle of Brazilians atop the card — or anywhere on the main card for that matter — this should still be a loud and raucous event that feels like it’s being held in front of twice as many fans as will actually be in the building.
In unrelated news, I find it amusing that the venue for this event shares its name with the home of the Buffalo Sabres. Don’t ask me why; it’s a long story that has to do with growing up in Southern Ontario and the fact that Buffalo is quite possibly the worst city ever.