a blog by Brian
The UFC made its return to Boston, after a two year hiatus. The event speared a weekend which looms large over the city, seemingly, each and every year. Patriots playoff games are like Sundays at the Vatican, especially so, on the AFC championship weekends. If you were watching, the UFC gave a great warm up for what was to come later that weekend, so I ask, how should we grade the UFCs return to Boston?
It is well-known, Boston is one of many fight cities in the United States of America. A place where a healthy fandom thrives. A place that embraces champions, where the underappreciated receive an inverse response to the normal parade of boo's and indifference. May that be circumstantial? Did the dominant champions of the UFC's two heaviest divisions come to the city that recently saw ten championships in the past eighteen years, at the perfect time?
At the very least, the timing behind both champions arrival in Boston is interesting. Not only did both the UFC's light heavyweight and heavyweight champion face similar challenges on the path of defending their titles but, similar questions arose. Light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, lost his previous bout, coming into Saturday, January 20th. The champion lost but not really. Most of us are aware of the saga behind Cormier's last fight. A TKO loss to Jon Jones morphed into a No Contest and reinstatement as champion following a potential USADA violation. Certain people, questioned the legitimacy of the reinstatement. Others questioned his ability, coming off a TKO loss, to eat the powerful punches his challenger, Volkan Oezdemir, had to offer.
For the baddest man on the planet, Stipe Miocic failed to keep the respect of the MMA community, which he deservedly earned on his path to gaining and defending the heavyweight strap. Miocic, unlike the favorite of the match-up, displayed a full array of MMA skills through his long tenure with the UFC. It seemed as if the narrative was either: NGannou's power or Miocic's wrestling. What may have been overlooked, the heavyweight champions consecutive stoppage victories over Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, and Junior Dos Santos. Much like NGannou, Miocic tore through the heart of the heavyweight division.
Why did so many question the durability of the UFC's two heaviest champions?
The answer is unknown. Yet, the narrative following both the co-main and main event scheduled for Boston made the fights even more intriguing. Boston's crowd rallied behind both champions, a sentiment TV viewers are not accustom to seeing. While Stipe Miocic is an easy personality to get behind, people whom think the same of Daniel Cormier would be surprised. If Las Vegas, Nevada and Buffalo, New York want to boo and hate Cormier, Boston will embrace him. The roars from the crowd could not be denied. Just as those chants and roars could not be for Miocic either.
Whether or not the UFC intended this, is besides the point. The promotion won. Whether or not their heavyweight champion is happy with them, matters minimally. The promotion earned the greatest heavyweight of all time, at the very minimum, a healthy portion of Bostonian fans. Moving past the final two fights of UFC 220, the main card was not the only impressive aspect of the event. From the opening seconds of the Fight Pass Prelims, this card delivered.
Not a single fight failed to captivate and hold attention. With the exception of the New England region veteran, Matt Bessette, Boston athletes established their skill and the crowd loved it. Kyle Bochniak executed a brilliant game plan, defeating Brandon Davis via unanimous decision. Rob Font got the PPV moving with an incredible knockout victory over Thomas Almeida, halfway through the second round. The last Boston-native to walk out may have made the most noise. Calvin Kattar defeated Shane Burgos in an incredible 'Fight of the Night' contest between two closely matched featherweights. Kattar handed the impressive New York fighter, Burgos, his first victory in eleven professional bouts.
In the end, the UFC's trip to the city of champions was a success. The promotion organized great fights, there was a healthy balance between regional fighters, the venue sold-out, the crowd poured energy into the event throughout the night, the total gate for the event was $2.45 million. What else could we ask for? The success of the promotions events rely on a massive variety of cumulative factors, one factor is luck. Yet, it is more-so circumstance.
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