Pay-per-view is exactly that: paying a monetary fee to view a motion picture, or live entertainment. With the UFC running an average of three shows a month and at least one of them on Pay-per-view, the dollars spent adds up for the layman fight viewer. For the privileged that bought last Saturday’s UFC 157 event, they witnessed history in the making, as Ronda Rousey defended the newly minted women’s bantamweight title, Lyoto Machida got his #1 contendership back for a second time, and Urijah Faber made it clear he’s always going to be near the top of the heap at 135lbs. However, on the preliminary side of the card, there was still plenty to oogle over for the monetarily challenged.
For instance, almost every fight on the lower half of the event had a similar theme to it: attrition. Nah-Shon Burrell, Neil Magny, Sam Stout, and Brendan Schaub all demonstrated that sometimes it takes a very workmanlike approach to fighting. All of their fights were seemingly clinch and grappling centric, and all were grinding. Conditioning was essential but so was will, and nowhere was it demonstrated more clearly than in those bouts.
Speaking of will, the heart displayed by both Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice in their featherweight tilt is the key reason that fight is on the short list of fight of the year (so far). Both men were in bad positions, and both fought their way out of them. Whether it be Grice from escaping a mount in the first round and a barrage of strikes in the third, or Bermudez recovering from a near knockout in the first and second rounds, both fighters displayed what Dana White has affectionately referred to as "war." Regardless of which fighter took the victory in the extremely close split decision, the UFC president said it best: there was no loser. Not Grice, not Bermudez, not the fanbase that caught the brawl before the pay-per-view they were too broke to pay for.
And then there were the feel good stories of the prelims. There was Kenny Robertson, the 29 year old woodshop teacher from Spring Bay, Illinois, who used creativity and ground prowess to submit his opponent, and earn his first UFC victory. Applying a move he created during his college wrestling career, Robertson grabbed Jardine’s foot while in the back mount, and hoisted it toward his opponents head. This created immense pressure on Jardine’s hamstring, necessitating a verbal submission. After sitting on the sidelines for seven months due to a hand injury, Robertson finally returned to the fight world with a W.
The other feel good story of the prelims was that of Ultimate Fight winner Michael Chiesa. While on the Ultimate Fighter, Chiesa’s father passed away. Despite the tragedy, Chiesa would stay on the show and go on to defeat Al Iaquinta in the finals by rear naked choke. In his first non-TUF bout, Chiesa overcame an uninspiring first round to submit Anton Kuivanen with his patented rear naked choke submission. After so many Ultimate Fighter winners with far more experience running dry in the UFC, it’s good to see an undefeated prospect deliver on his potential.
As for the main card? That cost money many people didn’t have the luxury of spending. The history being made was hard to ignore. A women’s title fight headlining a UFC fight card is tremendous progress for WMMA. However, from what the fans in the cheap seats saw, the undercard certainly had its fair share of appreciable efforts and visceral action, and sometimes that’s all we’ll really need on a Saturday evening.