James Irvin vs. Alessio Sakara is not a particularly relevant fight in the middleweight division in mixed martial arts. Neither guy is a win away, or even two or three wins away, from title contention. But it will be the first fight on UFC on Versus 1 Sunday night, and both guys show in this preview video that they understand the reason they've been matched up in the first UFC fight ever to air on Versus.
Basically, they've been put in the Octagon together because they both have stand-up styles that are going to appeal to new fans and casual fans, and they're almost certain to put on a fight that will be exciting even if it's not particularly skillful.
"We match up so stylistically together that I think it's going to be a great fight -- it can't not be a good fight," Irvin says. "We know what we're good at and we stick to it. We don't try to do different things."
Says the Italian Sakara, "He likes stand up. Me too. It's a good war. Nice -- good fight."
Maybe I'm stretching on this analogy, but the Sakara-Irvin fight kind of reminds me of that cookbook that Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote about getting kids to eat their vegetables by baking them into cakes and brownies. The UFC hopes the hockey and bull riding crowd decides to give the UFC a try now that it's on Versus, and a couple of hard strikers standing in front of each other and tradingpunches will get those fans to stick around for the main course.