Several minutes into the mixed martial arts (MMA) match between Colin Fletcher vs. Norman Parke at UFC on FX 6 in Dec. 2012, my cohort -- a veteran of local shows and an accomplished Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt -- broke an ugly silence.
"This is probably the worst fight on a UFC card I've ever seen," remarked Jeff Jones, who around these parts is known merely as "West Sac Jefro." This was no small statement because Jones’ sense of the absurd is considerable. In addition to owning every Pride FC DVD in existence and knowing the results backward and forward, he also has the habit of showing up at local grappling tournaments – carrying a mysterious case that resembles a trombone, though it is never opened – and then steamrolling the competition.
Upon being awarded his first-place medal, he takes the faux-trombone case with him, never revealing its contents, then goose-steps out of the gym, onlookers mystified and disturbed. "Surely it can get better," I offered. "Maybe we need to drink more?"
We did. But, it didn’t get better.
We’re not snobs or anything, and understand that developing talents with an upside deserve some slack for being diamonds in the rough. But the bout was plain awful, and the fact that it was the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Finale (ahem!) of the United Kingdom’s version of show left free-and-clear of a pending British invasion of talent.
Fletcher pretty much hopped around, looking like a cartoon character who’d been mistakenly outfitted in MMA gear instead floppy shoes, while Parke stumbled to an eminently forgettable decision.
Mike Ricci, who Fletcher will fight tonight (March 16, 2013) on the main card of UFC 158, which takes place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is much better. The same way that running into your ex-girlfriend at a stoplight in a monster truck is far more palatable than doing so in a Prius, with Dubstep blasting.
He’s sharper, better-rounded and has fought better competition.
Ricci’s solid punching power and stand up, compared to Fletcher’s virtually non-existent striking technique, will be a big edge. He also has considerably better conditioning, and pretty much the only danger he’s got in this fight is hurting himself while hopping around backstage a la Kevin Randleman.
Ricci will light up Fletcher on the feet, with "Freak Show" providing a ready-made target and no wrestling threat whatsoever. Fletcher is game, however, and will absorb a string of shots, then ground-and-pound, prior to going out for the second round just to prove that he can do it again. Ricci will continue the one-sided pounding en route to a second-round ground-and-pound stoppage.
Ricci via technical knockout
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 158 pay-per-view (PPV) main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst