Boston UFC card more than lives up to hype

Boston UFC card more than lives up to hype
August 18, 2013, 4:45 pm
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BOSTON - Fox Sports 1 wanted a big-time event to launch their new national cable sports network.  Much like Ted Nugent realized when he had to follow Van Halen on stage, they might have trouble living up to the standard set by their opening act.

From the opening minute of the first fight, when James Vick forced Ramsey Nijem to tap after quickly locking up a deep power guillotine, a tone for an evening was set.  Whether spectators were at home, or in the stands at TD Garden, they went for a beer, something to eat or a bathroom break at their own peril.

The first two fights, Vick’s submission win and Ovince St. Preux’s TKO stoppage of Cody Donovan, lasted a total of 3 minutes, 15 seconds. For the uninitiated fan, it was a crash course in UFC action and just a taste of an event that was designed by Dana White and the UFC as a must-see card, and a spectacular launch for the new sports network.

“We built a card that we wanted people to go out to find Fox Sports 1,”  White said at the post-fight press conference.  “You know how it goes, sometimes you build a card that looks great on paper, and it doesn’t work out that way. This was awesome. Everybody came and everybody fought hard. Everybody delivered. It was an awesome night."

White’s verbal appreciation of his fighter’s efforts was further emphasized when he announced the bonuses for the night's fight card.

In place of the usual single $50,000 cash bonus for knockout and submission of the night, there were two of each.  

The first knockout bonus went to welterweight Matt Brown after his 29-second blitzkrieg of savvy veteran Mike “Quicksand” Pyle.  Brown launched himself at the veteran grappler, battering him with punches and a well-timed knee. When Pyle hit the canvas, Brown’s fist quickly and repeatedly followed, forcing ref Kevin McDonald to save the dazed fighter.

The second went to heavyweight Travis Browne, who survived a withering assault from the hulking Alistair Overeem only to rally and catch the former Strikeforce champion with a perfectly placed front kick. Browne finished his dazed opponent with a flurry of hammer fists, sealing the first of the co-main event’s twin upsets.

The first submission of the night bonus when to 22-year-old bantamweight prodigy Michael “May Day” McDonald. McDonald may want to change his nickname to “Payday” after Saturday, because along with his opponent Brad “One Punch” Pickett, he also snared a “Fight of the Night” check.  

In the first of them from McDonald. "May Day’s" steady barrage of accurate powerful striking battered and wobbled his foe, but the very game Pickett managed to remain up right and dangerous, winging desperate, unsteady haymakers. Those offerings, while not damaging, kept McDonald from finishing Pickett in an action-packed first frame.

In the second stanza, McDonald’s continued dominance in the fistic exchanges caused Pickett to take the fight to the ground and begin a ground-and-pound assault from McDonald’s closed guard. Just as it seemed the tide of the fight had turned, McDonald shifted and caught Pickett in slickly applied arm bar/triangle choke combination. A desperate Pickett freed his arm from the joint lock, but in doing so lost his base, which allowed McDonald to tighten the choke and forced the game Brit to tap.

If there was a bonus for Post-Fight Comment of the Night, McDonald would have taken that home too.

When UFC color analyst Joe Rogan asked McDonald for his comments on his win, the young McDonald endeared himself to an already appreciative Garden crowd. “I was not about to let an Englishman, beat me in Boston, where the American Revolution started. Boston Strong!”

The second submission bonus check went to the night’s other main attraction. Chael Sonnen never gave former PRIDE and UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua a chance to work his signature striking as Sonnen took Shogun to the mat and kept him for the majority of the first round. The methodical, grinding assault didn’t stop until the closing second of the first and sunk in a deep Guillotine choke to force a tap from Rua.

Sonnen’s triumph, which followed Travis Browne’s comeback, was the second shocking result in as many fights, and a fitting end to an evening that not only met the expectations of the fans in the TD Garden and those watching at home, but also the people behind the event.

“Here is all I care about, is we delivered tonight,” a proud White explained. “I always say, my job is bells and whistles. The gentleman [fighters], sitting on the stage and ones who aren’t here right now are the ones who deliver and we delivered tonight.”

For White, who can go toe-to-toe with anyone in terms of verbal bombast, this may be an understatement.

White, the UFC and the fighters put on a massive, 13 fight, 6-hour card without a single title defense and and not only lived up to all the hype surrounding it, it exceeded it.

“We did our job tonight. . .” White exclaimed.

Now it’s time for Fox Sports 1 to do theirs.