NO. Man, what is wrong with you. And no, that last sentence wasn’t a question. If you clicked on this story hoping your bummer attitude would find a cynical analysis of why we can’t ever be happy with anything then the joke’s on you. If you clicked only in order to yell at me in the comments section then to you I say, “Welcome! Fooled you too!” Yes, in fact this card is as stacked as Dana White truly believes it to be. I know, there’s a part of each of us that remembers a time when the Main Event was a BIT more enticing BUT if this fight card doesn’t give you butterflies then you don’t remember the PPVs of the 2000s.
Let me say something obvious, you’re already going to be watching UFC 178 on Saturday night. But I’m not talking to you. I want you to send this to your friends because UFC 178 is the best chance the collective “we” have to get the uninitiated to invest $55 in sports-punching before 2015 (delete that part first; you don’t want to seem manipulative). Here are eight (for Octagon) reasons why I’m so sure I’m not going to sit down on Saturday night that I sold my couch:
8. The return of Dominic Cruz. Man, three years is a long time to be away so even though only Krom himself knows what Dominic Cruz is capable of at this point, this is the kind of special interest story that the UFC has trouble inventing on its own. As our (imaginary) buddy Ariel Helwani put it, “To come back from all those injuries, during his prime, THREE years later … I honestly can’t think of a champion pro athlete doing that.” I honestly didn’t try too hard to think of examples either but I couldn’t think of many in the ten seconds it is taking me to write this sentence either so I have to agree. It’s hard to seem “cool” standing next to Uriah Faber but Dominic Cruz’s performance as the coach across from The California Kid on TUF did show that Cruz is a good dude with the right motivation and we should respect him for his dedication to endure some frustrating hell to get back in the Octagon.
7. There’s a Title Fight. Granted, it’s not the title fight we think we deserve, but it’s the one we need/get on short notice. Demetrious Johnson can grind out decisions, whip out submissions, and he knocked out Joey Benavidez. He’s a damn impressive champion in that he can find ways to win against creative opponents and thus he deserves your attention. The UFC’s hope is that by the end of the night and after everything else that’s coming at you, you’ll have such an adrenaline high that only a 125-pounder will be able to match your heart’s RPMs.
6. Brian Ebsersole and his chest hair (it’s the source of his power and personality) are fighting a dude named Doomsday and that is exciting for me (us? are we there yet?) on multiple levels. He is also the first person for whom Middle Easy designed a signature shirt so I’m sure some kind of disclaimer needs to be placed here.
5. Karate wizard Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is fighting Patrick Cote, the guy who put up one of the most competitive efforts against Anderson Silva (until his body horribly betrayed him) during Silva’s most untouchable stretch of his winning streak. These are not undercard-nobodies even though their fight is on the undercard. Cote has the experience to make this bout interesting and Wonderboy (Karate Wizard is so much better) does the kind of stuff with his kicks that makes you think he’s kidding.
4. Tim Kennedy is a Special Forces-trained chef who did two things: a TOO good impression of Katy Perry and he put his fists where Bisping’s mouth is and beat Michael Bisping up at his own game (talking shit then winning on points). Usually after a victory against Bisping, you’re in title contention talk but since Tim isn’t exactly Chael Sonnen with fight selling words, he’s fighting #10 ranked Yoel Romero. That part is disappointing. What isn’t disappointing is Romero’s Olympic silver medal in freestyle wrestling; that gives you canvas cred no matter what the rules of the fight are. The potential here is that Tim needs a convincing win to sell a match against a higher caliber opponent while Yoel needs to prove himself against one. Those factors will spark some risk-taking. Huge disclaimer: this is grappler vs. wrestler so don’t be outraged if these guys rub against each other for an amount of time that makes you uncomfortable.
3. Cat Zingano is the one who should have fought Ronda Rousey after she defeated Miesha Tate who KO’d herself by aggressively headbutting Zingano’s knees. Unfortuantely, injury cancelled Zingano’s coaching spot on TUF across from Rousey and relegated her to the purgatory of recovery time. This is a tune-up match for the #1 contender. After what my eyes have witnessed, I’m not hopeful for anybody in a matchup against Rousey but we might have some competition in Zingano and that’s saying a lot for a top heavy (stop it) weight class. Tune in and find out if I’m full of shit.
2. Just… Conor McGregor. My wife (sorry, ladies) is in Ireland on a business trip and she thinks it’s weird that people are talking about McGregor’s fight in the streets of Dublin. Helpful facts: she doesn’t know who Conor McGregor is and couldn’t care less about MMA. This dude is so popular in Ireland that it is bothering my wife. When was the last time you couldn’t avoid hearing about a UFC star in a major US city? Conor McGregor is a rockstar and he’s talented and this is his best chance yet to keep proving he deserves to headline a title fight in a fucking soccer stadium. Dustin Poirier is a tough opponent and could derail this trane but it’s becoming more and more difficult to not get tractor beamed by the McGregor hype machine.
1. Donald Cerrone vs. Eddie Alvarez. This, fight fans, is brilliant matchmaking by the UFC and the kind of booking that makes you think the UFC might be trying to do this cage-fighting thing for a profit. Alvarez is the level of fighter the UFC should be poaching from other organizations. Donald Cerrone is the badass who (almost) always does exactly what we expect of him (kick heads). Cerrone is all kinds of competing descriptors: refined yet wild, explosive but patient, Cowboy but tan. The UFC isn’t throwing Alvarez to the wolves; they are locking two packs of wolves into an enclosed space and placing raw meat in the center. Bruce Buffer is a slab of loud meat but unfortunately for spectacle’s sake, he’ll depart before the cage door is closed.
Now that you cannot wait until Saturday night to see these fighters on TV, watch them pretend they’re celebrities in an airport and make super objective claims about their chances for success in the UFC’s latest Vlog: