Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans who flocked to Twitter.com this past week like a mob of silly Swedish seagulls to socially spank Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Dana White for the UFC on Fuel TV 9 fiasco better keep their beaks buttoned in the future.
That's because the international event turned out to be "awesome," even though Alexander Gustafsson was forced to withdraw from the main event against Gegard Mousasi for the "worst decision ever." Ilir Latifi, who stepped up as a late replacement for "The Mauler" on just four days, dueled "Dream Catcher" to a unanimous decision in the haphazard headliner, while the rest of the supporting cast "poured their hearts out."
It was a message that White wasted no time delivering at the UFC on Fuel TV 9 post-fight press conference (watch it here), which took place inside Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
"The media didn't really do it to us this time, but some of the fans did," White said. "It drives me crazy when people start talking shit about a card that hasn't even happened yet. You know, people start saying, 'this card sucks' and this and that because one guy fell off a card. This was a card full of talented people, while there were talks of canceling the card and stupid shit like that."
Despite White's diatribe, the "one guy" he references, Gustafsson, was pretty important. He is a No. 3-ranked Light Heavyweight contender who is a local MMA superstar. And with a win over Mousasi, a former Strikeforce 205-pound champion, Gustafsson more than likely would have drew the winner of Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen next.
Those are high stakes. In fact, it's the type of meaningful match up that helps people blissfully ignore the fact that the rest of the card might lack significant star power.
Regardless, the UFC on Fuel TV 9 cast and crew came to compete and treat. And, in White's estimation, compete and treat they did even if they weren't really the main reason(s) fans purchased tickets.
"If you put on fights, and all these other people like Conor McGregor who fought tonight, how do they get noticed if you don't put on a show?" White continued. "Everybody who spent money tonight, whether it was to sit in the arena or sat home and watched if for free on television, it was worth every minute. These kids poured their hearts out, the fights were amazing and I always feel weird saying this to grown men, but I'm proud of all the guys who fought tonight. It was an awesome event and I want to thank all the guys who delivered tonight."
Mousasi -- who revealed that he was sick and injured in the run up to his Octagon debut -- went on to defeat Latifi via unanimous decision after a rather uninspired, careful three rounds (watch video highlights here). In the co-main event, Ross Pearson blasted Ryan Couture (watch video highlights here), while Matt Mitrione needed just 19 seconds to do the same to Philip De Fries.
All in all, UFC on Fuel TV 9 did indeed "deliver" -- it was solid; however, this was a card clearly built around Gustafsson. White and Co. absolutely put all its eggs in his basket this weekend, and when he could not compete for reasons beyond its control, fans had a right to be upset.
Regardless of whether or not it was an "awesome event" after the fact.
To check out complete UFC on FUEL TV 9 blow-by-blow coverage of the entire "Mousasi vs. Latifi" event click here. And for a detailed recap of the UFC on FUEL TV 9 main card bouts on FUEL TV click here.