Saturday night’s The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale continued the recent trend of the UFC’s free television content being superior to their Pay-Per-View offerings. The Ultimate Fight Night 11, back in September, offered us a whole slew of impressive bouts from the lesser known (at least amongst the casual, mainstream fans) sections of the UFC’s roster. Chris Leben’s KO of Terry Martin and Nate Quarry’s fight with Pete Sell were eminently more exciting than the likes of a Michael Bisping v Rashad Evans main event, or a Karo Parisyan v Ryo Chonan three round decision. On Saturday night, we were treated to a genuine fight of the year candidate in the war of attrition between Jon Koppenhaver and Jared Rollins and what I, right now, will call as THE fight of the year between Roger Huerta and Clay Guida. And all this on free television.
Some would say that this represents clear evidence that the UFC is trying to market television stars ahead of talented mixed martial artists and, yes, I too think that this is probably the case. When was the last UFC PPV main event that delivered the same action as the Huerta v Guida war? Chuck Liddell v Keith Jardine wasn’t bad and Quinton Jackson v Dan Henderson, for all the historical implications and fanfare attached to it, was good at best.
Now, in scanning the various MMA websites and forums, I’ve noticed that not a lot of people gave Huerta much of a chance in this fight. I had a feeling he’d win this one but it was without doubt the sternest test of his UFC career to date. Huerta has always impressed me and has proven in his 6 fights thus far that he’s got all the attributes necessary to be a great fighter – heart, talent, intelligence and a rock solid chin. I can see him getting overwhelmed by a BJ Penn, Sean Sherk or Frankie Edgar but he’s proven the definitely belongs in the mix at the top of the UFC lightweight division.
Another who will now be competing somewhere in that division is The Ultimate Fighter 6 Welterweight Champion Mac Danzig. It was clear to see to anyone watching his preliminary fights on the show that he was easily the most talented of the bunch and the likes of Blake Bowman, John Kolosci and Bill Miles had no place being in competition against him. I seem him as something of a similar fighter to Kenny Florian insomuch as he’s pretty darn good at everything you need to be good at to be a successful Mixed Martial Arts fighter. Look for him to have a solid, if a slightly unspectacular start to his immediate UFC career.
Tommy Speer does posses a lot of potential and has a lot of raw materials that could be refined into a very good mixed martial artist but, for sure, if the other finalist were George Sotiropoulos it would probably have been a closer fight. But that’s all ifs, buts and maybes. Speer earned the right to be there but the gulf in class was all too evident and Danzig, the vegan, showed little empathy for his Team Hughes team mate.
But the real story about last weekend’s show, and I realise I keep harping on about this, was the Roger Huerta v Clay Guida main event. If the Chuck Liddell v Wanderlei Silva and Matt Hughes v Georges St. Pierre superfights at UFC 79 are half as good as that, well, it’s going to be a great December for MMA fans.