Making the Grade: Passes/Fails from the UFC's first doubleheader
Stipe Miocic bludgeoned Fabio Maldonado in just 35 seconds in Brazil. Gegard Mousasi choked out Mark Munoz in Germany.
Or was it Miocic in Germany and Mousasi in Brazil? Wait. Wasn't it Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with the revolver? Crap.
Anyway, while we confirm what the hell happened in the UFC on Saturday, check out below for what Haymaker took away from the organization's first two-continent doubleheader.
What's the difference between The Ultimate Fighter in its heyday and The Ultimate Fighter now? The format is the same as it always was, but widespread interest has waned somewhat. That could be because there's a TUF twice a year here in the states plus at least one a year in Brazil and Canada/Australia/England and the expansion to overseas regions, like China and Latin America.
But here's the real reason: the lack of blue-chip prospects coming off the show. That is not the case with TUF Brazil 3. Warlley Alves, who won the middleweight crowd Saturday night with a submission win over Marcio Alexandre, looks like a future contender, perhaps at welterweight. He's an athletic freak with a diverse skill set. Antonio Carlos Jr. won the heavyweight final and he's a natural middleweight.
Add in impressive victories by Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Ricardo Abreu and this was probably one of the best TUF seasons in recent memory. Why? Because of the quality of fighters.
UFC Berlin on Fight Pass
I spent a big chunk of UFC Fight Night in Berlin driving from Atlantic City back to New York after a bachelor party Friday night. I feared that I would miss the fights from Germany because I wouldn't be in front of a computer with consistent wireless internet. I was wrong. Fight Pass delivered in a huge way. In my three-hour journey up the New Jersey Turnpike, the stream barely skipped or froze. And don't worry -- my eyes were on the road. For the most part, I allowed commentators John Gooden and Dan Hardy to tell the story with their words.
The crowd, from what I heard, also seemed to be pretty hot and the UFC drew 8,000 fans to the event. Germany has not been a hotbed for MMA, especially in the media, where the UFC has gotten some bad press. This was the organization's first trip back to the country since 2010 and after a pretty positive reaction it looks like it will be going back on an annual basis. That's great news, because Germany is still a leader and trendsetter in Europe.
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I have a confession to make. I did not watch much of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3. With a UFC event almost every weekend (sometimes two!), the TUF here in the states (Wednesday nights on FOX Sports 1, y'all) and actually doing interviews and writing stuff once in awhile, it's hard to stay up to date with absolutely everything UFC. That was totally cool, though, because the in-depth video packages on the TUF Brazil finalists Saturday night told me all the important things about those guys.
You know what else? They made me interested in seeing them fight. I think the regular fan is like me, too. Maybe they don't have the time to watch every single event and all the Ultimate Fighters. It's never a bad thing to catch people up on who these fighters are. In most cases, they have really interesting back stories. Sometimes it gets lost in the constant grind of cards that it's way better to know who these people are and what makes them tick rather than just who they have fought and that they're a monster or an animal.
Ever wonder why so many people tune into the Olympics? It's because the networks that show the games do an excellent job forming a narrative and making the casual fan care about the athletes. With more fights going on than ever, this is as important for the UFC as it ever was.
Get on the floor
See what happens when you try to have two events in one day? The damn canvas gets sent to the wrong continent. Can you imagine if Mark Munoz got on the wrong flight and had to fight Stipe Miocic in Brazil instead of Gegard Mousasi in Germany? Actually, maybe that would have made for some more competitive fights.
Mistakes happen, of course. This one might have cost the UFC some money, but it didn’t change the quality of fights in Germany because there weren't any ads on the mat. This is little more than something the common fan can have a chuckle about. The UFC should give the meandering canvas to a lucky follower in Brazil as a keepsake. What else are they going to do with it?
Horror movie hair
Remember Rony Jason when he was a good-looking young man on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. The horror-movie mask was a cute little gimmick for a guy whose nickname comes from a slasher flick. It was cute. Some good, clean fun.
At some point, though, things turned and Jason is looking more and more ridiculous every fight. On Saturday night, his hair was dyed burnt orange and he was rocking brown Fu Manchu-like facial hair. Where did we go wrong raising you, Rony? You were such a nice boy and now this.
First, let me say that I am always an advocate for fighter safety. I would much prefer a fight ending a little early than too late. Also, Herb Dean is regarded as the best referee in the game. Is that completely accurate? It's too subjective to really say. But he does a very good job most of the time.
This year, though, he has made some odd choices in ending fights quickly. His stoppages in high-profile main events like Renan Barao-Urijah Faber and Ronda Rousey-Sara McMann drew some controversy. I think he stopped Kevin Souza-Mark Eddiva too early Saturday in Brazil, too. But that's not where my problem lies. It just seems like he has been increasingly inconsistent. At UFC 170 in February, just minutes before Rousey-McMann, he let Mike Pyle destroy T.J. Waldburger for far too long. So why did Waldburger get more leeway than McMann or Eddiva? Only Dean knows.
Dean is hardly representative of referee and judging issues in MMA, of which there are plenty. But if we're going to continue to champion him as the best ref in the sport, he has to continue earning that title, the same way a fighter has to defend his belt.
Feeling the heat
We know UFC president Dana White gets annoyed with the media from time to time (OK, always), but this is taking things too far. A fire started in the press room Saturday night in Brazil. MMA Fighting's Guillerme Cruz tweeted that a floodlight exploded and there was smoke everywhere. No one was hurt, thankfully.
Obviously, White had nothing to do with it. He was far away, traveling back home from Berlin. And he didn't even tweet out a smiley face after it happened. Maybe he does have some love for us after all. White sure is willing to stay for hours after most events to essentially answer every question you would ever care about the answer to.
No other coach, manager or executive in sports does that.