If through the caprices of some voodoo priest, Charles Dickens was brought back to life and put to work as a zombie mixed martial arts (MMA) reporter, his take on UFC 169 would probably look something like this:
"It was the best of fights, it was the worst of fight cards."
Okay, that may be a little bit extreme, but surely we can forgive Mr. Dickens a little hyperbole after spending the past 143 years pushing up daises. That's got to make a man groggier than waking up after playing the "Dana White F-Bomb Drinking Game."
Seriously though, overall UFC 169 was the type of card that tries fight fans' patience. At times, it felt like a distant relative of the Seinfeld "Soup Nazi" from some years back was presiding over this event.
Oh, so you like explosive knockouts and slick submissions?
Sorry buddy, no finishes for you.
What started off as a forgivable trend during the Fight Pass "Prelims" and even the first FOX Sports 1 prelim bout pitting Al Iaquinta against game newcomer Kevin Lee, soon turned downright frustrating, as violence-starved MMA fans were treated to decision after decision on the UFC 169 undercard.
It may be this chest cold I'm battling, but somewhere around the glorified sparring match between Alan Patrick and John Makdessi, my eyelids began to feel heavier than two industrial-sized kegs. At that point it was looking like my battle to stay conscious was going to end up running away with my vote for "fight of the night."
And then it happened.
Jamie Varner and Abel Trujillo came out in the first bout of the pay-per-view (PPV) portion of last Saturday night's (Feb. 1, 2014) event and put on a show that jolted me awake, like that scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman's character receives a shot of adrenaline in her heart.
The first round started off excellent, with both men trading a series of what color commentator Joe Rogan called "What Did You Say About My Mother Punches." As good as that line was, I preferred to think of them as "I Just Caught You In Bed With My Wife Punches."
Either way, Varner and Trujillo came out swinging bungalows with glorious abandon in the fight's opening frame. By the time both men walked back to their corners at the end of the round, I was grinning from ear-to-ear like a starving man set down before a giant porterhouse.
Finally, the evil machinations of "The Finish Nazi" be damned, we were getting served up a course of Grade-A violence at UFC 169.
Then in the second stanza things got even better. Varner and Trujillo once again exchanged a series of wild strikes, with Varner eventually getting the better of the action. He began unloading on Trujillo up against the cage, and it appeared to be all "Killa" could do remain vertical.
Then Trujillo lived up to his name (and then some) when, in a barely cognizant moment of last-ditch desperation, he threw a Hail Mary right hook that landed squarely on Varner's jaw, causing him to drop face first to the Octagon floor in a scene that brought back memories of Ric Flair's famous "Flair Flop."
Watch the video here.
It was the kind of visceral come-from-behind victory that marked the careers of brawlers like Chris Leben and Scott Smith. When it was over, Trujillo found himself $125,000 richer thanks to winning both the "Fight of the Night" and "Knockout of the Night" bonuses.
Perhaps even more importantly though, Trujillo and Varner put on a performance that justified the $50 many of us paid for what otherwise proved to be a decidedly skippable show (other than three minutes or so of Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber before it was marred by an unfortunate finish).
If 2014 proves to be anything like 2013, it may be early to begin earmarking potential "Fight of the Year" candidates, but unless this year brings us more five-star slobberknockers than any other in history, Trujillo vs. Varner deserves to at least be in the conversation when we discuss the best fights of the year this coming December.
Neither man is likely to ever challenge for a UFC title, but on a night marked by a forgettable performance from UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Trujillo vs. Varner was a reminder that sometimes there's more glory in losing a gutsy, fan-friendly firefight than in retaining a title in an unmemorable bout.
For more UFC 169 results and fallout, including recaps, videos, highlights and more, check out our "Barao vs. Faber 2" live story stream by clicking here.