The argument is made every single time. If a card looks horrendous on paper, it will probably end up being amazing.
The argument has legs simply because more often than not, it's true. It's not always the case (UFC 119, I'm looking right at you) but there's just something about those cards that lack star power and are under promoted that brings out the fun of watching fights.
Maybe it's the expectations of us, the fans, watching the event. We're so convinced that it will be horrible that even the slightest bit of entertainment seems momentous. We take off our mixed martial arts (MMA) crown and put on our fight cap and enjoy ourselves.
Maybe it's the fighters who don't live in a bubble and can't help but realize they're stuck on a lackluster card. Hoping to be the person to provide the "the card was awful but did you happen to check out" moment for all the post-fight recaps and discussion, they go all out.
Whatever the reason, UFC 138 was exactly that.
What it lacked in big names it made up for in fireworks. All five fights on the main card ended before the third round and the main event was a fun 10 minute war between winner Mark Muñoz and his opponent Chris Leben.
The fights aired on tape delay several hours later on Spike. Due to the time difference between Birmingham, England and the US, the fights took places from mid- to late-afternoon here in the states.
But I ended up seeing "The Crippler" on my TV this afternoon. How, you ask? Because Spike was airing a special episode of UFC Unleashed with some of the heavy-handed fighter's best bouts.
So the question should be asked: why wasn't UFC 138 aired live?
I can understand the argument that Spike wouldn't be keen on airing a card like tonight's live. It was looked at like a card not fit to be numbered alongside great events like UFC 84, UFC 100, and UFC 116. It was a glorified Fight Night headlined by longtime Fight Night headliner Chris Leben. In fact, the only time "The Crippler" main evented a numbered event was during another jaunt across the Atlantic for UFC 89.
But the channel was airing UFC programming anyway during the time Alves, Leben, and Muñoz was were plying their trade inside the Octagon. Hour upon hour of UFC Unleashed dominated the afternoon programming for the channel leading up to its airing of the Birmingham event.
Why didn't they use three of those airs to air the show live? They would still be able to air it again that night as planned but would also satisfy the hardcore fans that wished to see it as it unfolded. There's nothing quite like live sports and removing the "watch it as it happens" quality also removes some of the drama and intrigue.
I believe that's a big reason why Dana White and company have opted to air every single preliminary fight on Facebook.
Another reason a live showing would seem imperative is the college football game between #1 LSU and #2 Alabama. For many fans, the national championship won't be decided in January, it was decided tonight in Tuscaloosa. It was a can't miss game and when presented with the prospect of watching either that or a tape delayed UFC with a weak card, it's not hard to figure out what choice many 18-49-year old males made.
I know the relationship between the UFC and Spike has soured beyond repair by this point. There was little to no promotion for tonight's card while I'm pretty sure even my grandmother knows that Cain Velasquez is taking on Junior Dos Santos next week (Nov. 12) on Fox.
It reeks of contractual obligation but the treatment of the show does nothing for either company and only serves to hurt both.
It's 2011. If I want to watch my beloved Red Devils play live from Manchester, I can. If I wanted to check out the 2011 Cricket World Cup finals from all the way in Mumbai live as it happened, it was easily possible. Live sporting events from across the globe are available on any cable or satellite provider and also through several legitimate websites.
The term "tape delay" is archaic and shouldn't be uttered with the technology we have at our disposal.
MMA fans -- some of the most passionate across the sports spectrum -- deserve and should demand better.