Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White promised mixed martial arts (MMA) fans "the greatest fight card ever put on free TV" with his UFC on FOX 5 extravaganza, which blew the lid off the KeyArena earlier tonight (Dec. 8, 2012) in Seattle, Washington.
Even for a promoter, that's a pretty bold statement.
Whether or not you, as a fight fan, believe the goods were delivered as advertised may depend on your allegiance to certain fighters. Fans of B.J. Penn and Mauricio Rua, for example, may feel like tonight was one of the worst nights in the history of combat sports.
And Nate Diaz fans are probably flipping off random strangers as we speak.
But for the fans who just like to watch great fights, even the ones who laid heavy timber on a hastily-assembled parlay, tonight was about as much as you could ask for. Sure, one main card finish out of four is hardly the stuff of legend, but having every contest be competitive, even if they weren't close, is good enough for me.
Because I got to see "Shogun," "The Prodigy" and a championship performance -- and it didn't cost me a dime.
Over the next 10 weeks, Zuffa will deliver no less than 11 events on pay-per-view, cable, and network television, and it's no secret that fans are a little overwhelmed in an effort to keep pace. Simply put, it's hard to get amped for a night of fights when they don't feel as special as they used to.
Tonight was an exception.
"Oversaturation" is a term that's been thrown around a lot in recent months, but I still believe that whenever you put free fights on television, most of the fans will watch. Put guys like B.J. Penn and Shogun Rua on free television, all of the fans will watch.
The greatness of the card is directly proportionate to the greatness of the fighters who populate it.
The Hawaiian, much like the Brazilian, may not be the "great" fighters they once were, but their legacies continue to trump the shortcomings displayed in the latter parts of their careers. And it only bolsters the future greatness of the men who defeated them, Rory MacDonald and Alexander Gustafsson, respectively.
And if you haven't figured it out by now, Ben Henderson, currently the greatest fighter at 155 pounds, is here to stay.
Tonight was the "greatest fight card ever put on free TV," because it featured the greatest fighters ever put on free TV. Perhaps Matt Brown and Mike Swick don't fall within that category, but they compensated with an electric opening frame followed by an "Immortal" second round knockout.
Heck, tonight was better than many of the pay-per-views I've seen this year.
In just over a month, ZUFFA will return to the FOX airwaves with UFC on FOX 6 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, featuring a title shot in the flyweight division between Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson while Quinton Jackson tries to fend off the curse of the old guard against Glover Teixeira.
Second greatest fight card ever put on free TV?
Time will tell.
For complete UFC on FOX 5 results and blow-by-blow coverage of the main card fights click here.