Posted 04/20/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA

UFC on Fox 11: Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne Review

Last night’s UFC on Fox 11 was a great card, and one I had more fun watching than any other card in recent memory. Outside of Mirsad Bektic’s fight, I skipped the first six fights of the show. I saw a few people on my Twitter timeline that hadn’t skipped those fights recognize the show’s quality, and still felt bored and ambivalent about watching it.

We often talk about the cost of being an MMA fan in strictly dollar amounts. Twelve pay-per-view events per year plus an annual subscription to UFC Fight Pass winds up costing the typical hardcore fan somewhere in the neighborhood of $850, assuming that fan never attends a show live or buys merchandise or pays to take an awkward photo with one arm draped around an Octagon Girl’s waist and the other making a fist.

Costs aren’t strictly monetary, however, and the hardcore MMA fan has had to pay a rising cost in time spent watching MMA over the last few years. Let’s assume the average UFC event takes six hours from start to finish. Here’s how much time someone would have to spend over the last five years in order to watch every minute of UFC action:

2009: 120 hours
2010: 144 hours
2011: 162 hours
2012: 192 hours
2013: 198 hours

With UFC 172 next weekend, the UFC will have put on 14 events in the first four months of the year, which puts them on pace for 42 for the year. That adds up to an estimated 252 hours of live fight broadcasts, which would be a 110% increase over what was expected from that same fan in 2009. (Though that fan in 2009 also had Strikeforce and the death rattles of Dream and Sengoku to supplement their UFC habit, if they were so inclined.)

Some call this “oversaturation,” that the UFC is putting on too many events with too many fighters for fans to keep up with. That’s true, to an extent, but each of the major sports leagues in the country provides too much content for the average fan to follow. (And your hardcore pro wrestling fan has to put in a similar time commitment to watch every Raw, SmackDown, and WWE pay-per-view offering.)

The biggest problem, in my mind, results from the UFC essentially controlling its own coverage. When, say, the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders play each other, the major network analysts call the game for what it is: a matchup between two bad teams with holes at quarterback or major injuries or a porous secondary or a lack of pass rush or whatever it is that makes either team bad. In the UFC, the Browns and Raiders would be “struggling” yet “improving” and it would be a Very Important Matchup for either side.

We see this in the promos for UFC 172. Glover Teixeira is a 6-1 underdog to Jon Jones. Since beating Mauricio Rua for the title, Jones hasn’t been worse than a 4.5-1 against anyone. And yet, we hear Joe Rogan referring to “people” who think Teixeira is “Jones’ toughest challenge yet.” The UFC used the same model with every Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva fight over the last five years. It’s the “Everything Is Awesome” strategy: everyone in the UFC is great and has no weaknesses or is definitely improving them so now everyone is the same generic person and have fun keeping up with 500 of them.

That doesn’t mean the UFC shouldn’t sell Jones-Teixeira, but the sell should focus on some kernel of truth. Instead of “Buy this fight because Glover Teixeira might be the toughest challenge yet lol!” try “Buy this fight because Jon Jones is a MMA virtuoso who will probably slaughter this latest lamb and then go on a homophobic tirade on Instagram while he’s out at the club.”

Speaking of Lambs to Slaughter

Fabricio Werdum put a 25-minute hurting on Travis Browne, re-establishing his number-one-contender status for Cain Velasquez’s heavyweight belt. (This despite Dana White’s bizarre fighter-burying proclamation that Werdum fought a “safe fight.”) Werdum’s earned the fight; he’s compiled a 9-2 record since 2008, his only losses coming to a debuting Junior dos Santos and a bizarre fight with Alistair Overeem that he could have won with a better/more aggressive gameplan. And with dos Santos coming off his second smashing at the hands of Velasquez, there’s no one better qualified.

Velasquez, assuming his latest round of surgery doesn’t have any lingering effects, will smash Werdum, which exemplifies the current problem in the heavyweight division. Velasquez stands above dos Santos who stands above Werdum and a few other guys who stand above everyone else.

Three Lightweight Stars of the Night

Jorge Masvidal may never break into the elite class at 155 pounds, but he often looks the part when matched up with lesser talents. After picking Pat Healy apart, Masvidal may find himself back in the top fifteen.

Donald Cerrone weathered an early, ugly storm from Edson Barboza. A jab put Barboza on the mat, and Cerrone quickly took the back and locked in a choke. Cerrone would be a great replacement for Bobby Green who was scheduled to fight Jim Miller next week at UFC 172. Instead, he could fight…

Khabib Nurmagomedov gave Rafael dos Anjos no room to breath en route to a unanimous 30-27 decision. Nurmagomedov probably deserves a title shot, but with Anthony Pettis on the shelf with injury and TUF coaching duties opposite Gilbert Melenedez, it makes sense to give him another fight or two. Cerrone on a early or late fall Fox show makes a great case.

Some Other Things

-Thiago Alves looked in fine form in his return against Seth Baczynski. Alves last fought on March 3, 2012, against Martin Kampmann, losing by guillotine choke

-Referee Jorge Ortiz and the Florida State Athletic Commission have some explaining to do regarding Mirsad Bektic being allowed to continue fighting against Chas Skelly. In round two, Skelly landed two illegal knees to the head while Bektic posted his hand while backed into the fence. At best, Bektic looked shaken up; at worst, Skelly’s knees put him out for a moment. What should have been a disqualification became a point deduction, and Bektic was forced to finish the second and third rounds. This comes just over a week after a fighter was allowed to continue after falling off his stool in Wyoming.

Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter


Mike Fagan