UFC Packs a Punch


The wife took the 6-month-old and headed out of town the other weekend, so I did what every responsible father left home with his 2-year-old son would do in that situation: I got a big pizza, a gallon of chocolate milk and ordered an Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view.

Oh, calm down, you don't need to call Social Services. I didn't really let him have chocolate milk that late at night; I made him finish it long before we started watching the fights. What kind of father do you think I am?

What I am is a diehard fan of boxing, the sport that many like to say is in the midst of being replaced by mixed martial arts. And that night, UFC had what was called the biggest fight in the sport's history—veteran champion Randy Couture against former WWE star Brock Lesnar. So as a boxing guy, I plunked down $45 of my company's hard-earned dollars to do one thing: cheer against this trash being any good. And one word describes how that went: dammit.

From start to finish, the show was crisp, clean and action-packed. The fights were far from the human cockfighting MMA has been famously called, and were in fact infinitely scientific more often than not—save for the punch-happy end to Lesnar's victory. On that night, Ultimate Fighting Championship created a new superstar in Lesnar and didn't hurt the argument that its product is indeed taking away younger boxing fans.

I had seen some UFC on SpikeTV before, but this was my first pay-per-view. So I was interested to see the advertisers, which predictably included video games and energy drinks, but also other premier names like Bud Light and Harley-Davidson.

A couple of fighters actually wore ads on their trunks for an online condom wholesaler. When I buy things that I need in bulk on the Web, it's diapers and prune juice. Must be nice.

I was also interested in seeing Fear Factor alum Joe Rogan as color analyst. His highlight came after interviewing rapper 50 Cent about his new album at ringside. Rogan's sign-off: “Buy it, don't download it, bitches.” The Obama administration just found its first anti-piracy tagline.

The best of the undercard was one fighter who looked like a long-lost relative of McLovin from Superbad against one who could have been a long-lost relative of Dwight Schrute from The Office. When Schrute won, he sprinted across the ring and slammed his face into the cage surrounding the canvas. It was then I realized I don't know if there is drug testing in UFC.

But most of all, I was interested in the main event. I was pulling for Lesnar for two simple reasons: He fights out of the great state of Minnesota, and I love politics. You see, we in Minnesota have a name for professional pugilists with a little attitude: future governor.

And Lesnar didn't disappoint, knocking down Couture in the second round with a shot to the temple, and then doing the time-honored UFC tradition of jumping on your fallen opponent and bashing him in the head repeatedly until the referee literally tackles you to stop the fight.

“I must have hit him I think about 40 times, and I was wondering, 'Is this referee ever going to come in here and stop this?'” Lesnar was quoted as saying after the fight. But what did stop quickly on that Saturday night was my thumbing of my unfortunately bulbous nose at UFC.

Now don't get me wrong. I am in no way turning my back on my beloved boxing anytime soon, even though the pathetic news that 47-year-old washed-up Evander Holyfield is getting another title shot has tempted me to do so. But there is plenty of punch left in the Sweet Science, such as the Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao fight I can't wait to attend in Las Vegas Saturday night.

But in one night, I did finally come around a little on UFC. And judging by his reaction, my 2-year-old loved it even more.

E-mail comments to ben.grossman@reedbusiness.com