In recent months the injury bug has torn through the UFC’s roster like a rebel force of half robot super-soldiers descending upon their near-sighted, lab-dwelling creators. In the aftermath, I have found myself scratching my head at heavily depleted fight cards, seemingly vacant of the star power that I had come to expect from your average MMA PPV event. Having been left with little of excitement to write about I sit here now before you to bemoan the coming of perhaps the worst UFC fight card that Dana White ever attempted to charge you for. The dreaded Evans-Ortiz 2. With more than half of the UFC’s champions still on the mend (Aldo, Edgar, Bones AND Velasquez) allow me to kill you softly by singing our collective pain as MMA fans and vent a little bit of my frustration at the fact that my local cable provider actually thinks I am dumb enough to pay $50 to watch Tito Ortiz clamor for relevance.
For the purposes of balance, lets begin with a positive. I am actually looking forward to Evans-Ortiz 2. Was there anyone, even amongst the most anti-Tito fans, who was not at least somewhat pleasantly surprised to see the aging legend and heavy underdog pull out a first round submission victory over a dangerous young contender? And then, only weeks later, to fall ass-backwards into an upcoming bout with the divisions number one contender? Its storybook. And thats kinda’ the problem. I was looking forward to watching Johnny “Bones” Jones assert division dominance and cement his place as perhaps the pound for pound greatest fighter alive today and instead I feel like I just bought a ticket for the premier of Rocky 7. Not to mention the fact that the last time Rashad Evans set foot in an octagon I had an active Myspace account. An interesting and unexpected match up? Yes. A PPV headliner? No.
Making our way down the card, your co-main event is probably the most significant fight, with Vitor Belfort facing off against “Sexiyama”. Belfort was experiencing quite the career renaissance before running face first into Anderson Silva’s foot a few months back, but is still a very relevant and dangerous middleweight contender. Akiyama is as game as they come and always puts on an exciting show, so no complaints with this fight. The rest of the card is a bit depressing. Hallman-Ebersole, Jorge Rivera-Allesio Sakara and McDonald-Pile. Don’t get me wrong, all due respect to these fighters, I would be more than pleased to sit down on my couch and watch these bouts unfold on basic cable. But this is far from what I would consider to be a fully formed UFC PPV card. It is the final hurdle in this proverbial winter of MMA excitement.
On the bright side, it looks like the UFC will be making it up to us on August 14 with one of the best free events they have ever put together. Hardy-Lytle (the headlining event) has the makings of a rather entertaining fireworks show and the supporting cast includes two of the best lightweight match-ups in recent memory- Jim Miller-Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone-Charles Oliveira. Shortly thereafter we have the UFC’s return to Rio, a card stacked with superstars and solid match ups.
So please join me in holding our collective breath a few weeks longer, big things in store for late-summer fall.