Posted 06/29/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA
 
 

UFC Fight Night 43: James Te Huna vs. Nate Marquardt Review

I survived UFC Fight Night 43, and all I got was the responsibility of writing up this post-fight review.

The evening went almost exactly to plan. The girlfriend and I caught a movie at 5 p.m. CT (22 Jump Street. Pretty good!) After returning home, I cooked up a couple boxes of mac and cheese, downed 40 ounces of milk, popped a melatonin, and, uh, another “substance.” I was out by 8:15. I woke up before my 1 a.m. alarm, feeling as refreshed as I could under the circumstances, and made it through the card with minimal issues toward the end. Hopped back into bed just after 6 a.m., woke up at 9:30 a.m., and hey, was that UFC card just a dream?

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 43: THE BEST REGIONAL SHOW OF THE YEAR!

Earlier this week, I made it clear that this card was, well, not good. The main event featured two fighters with a combined five straight losses. The co-main involved two marginal heavyweights. One of the fighters in the opener lacked a Wikipedia page. The one fight worth anything – Hatsu Hioki vs. Charles Oliveira – could be framed as a matchup between two fallen prospects. (Slightly unfairly, considering Oliveira won’t turn 25 until October.)

And the card turned out to be…not bad? At least when we compare it to a World Series of Fighting show or 98% of Bellator’s offerings. The Fight Pass pacing helps; this card started at 2:30 a.m. ET and finished just before 7 a.m. But the fights themselves were relatively exciting as well. Six finishes in ten fights, and really only one flat-out awful fight (to watch, Rosholt vs. Palelei) in the bunch.

All this is why I don’t mind a card like this as standard Fight Pass fare. It buried zero relevant fighters. It brought an event to a new market. It…uh…existed?

The problem is the UFC has done a poor job of differentiating the various levels of their product. This card being an exception.

During the Lesnar-boom, Zuffa would never fail to point out that they weren’t boxing: instead of a quality main event surround by crap, the UFC packed their PPV shows top-to-bottom. Now, they’ve had to bloat their roster above 500 fighters and spread it out over 5 distinct regular outlets (PPV, Fox, FS1, FS2, and Fight Pass). Most PPVs are now a couple of good fights up top supported with a lot of crap, because fights that once were on the PPV undercard are filling FS1 and Fight Pass shows.

The solution is to construct the Fight Pass shows like this event or the Singapore show or the The Ultimate Fighter: China Finale. Stack it with local talent, throw in some young prospects or aging vets, and top it with a C-level main event (Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim, Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway, Te Huna vs. Marquardt).

Don’t put Alexander Gustafsson on Fight Pass. Don’t put Gegard Mousasi on Fight Pass. Those guys should be headlining Fox Sports 1 shows if they’re not on Fox or PPV.

And for Christ’s sake, start stacking your PPVs again. This is the number one complain I hear from casual fans. They don’t want to spend $60 on one fight, the model you trained them to hate. Even UFC 175, one of the UFC’s tentpole events, falls short with an undercard featuring Matt Mitrione, Thiago Santos, and two unranked bantamweights. (With Urijah Faber doing a favor in the FS1 prelim “main event.”) Sure, drug tests snakebit the card, but this sort of card construction is not an isolated case.

THE OTHER STUFF

-Nate Marquardt looked more like his old(, drug-using?) self, finishing James Te Huna within the first round with a pretty fancy-looking armbar. The win does little more than prove that Marquardt is not quite dead, and buys him at least one more fight in the UFC. For Te Huna, he might stay on on account of his nationality, but, at 32, we have a pretty good idea of his ceiling.

-Charles Oliveira became the first man to submit Hatsu Hioki, and he did it with some weird hybrid D’arce choke/Peruvian necktie/half a dozen other things. Every UFC fight is must-win, but this is big for Oliveira, who, at 24, is still young enough to live up to the potential he showed when he entered the UFC in 2010. Hioki’s probably exorcised himself out of the featherweight title picture permanently, but, like Te Huna, could stick around for a while on account of his place of birth.

-Mike Goldberg pronounced “Auckland” as “ACH-land” and “AUCK-land,” but mostly “OAK-land.”

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