Thursday, November 12, 2009

UFC 105: Preview

The depth of talent may be somewhat lacking, but the matchmaking is extremely balanced at UFC 105 and, best of all, it's free! The three-hour broadcast will air this Saturday (Nov. 14th) on Spike TV at 5:00pm/PST and again at 9:00pm/PST.

The most compelling reason to watch is that UFC 105 features Randy "The Natural" Couture's (16-8) third fight on his current, four-fight contract. If Randy loses again, as he did in the first two fights, this could easily be the forty-six-year-old's penultimate appearance in the octagon. On the other hand, Couture could reignite his hall-of-fame career with a win over Brandon "The Truth" Vera (11-3). [Edit: It's come to my attention that Couture recently signed a new six-fight UFC contract. Still, he could always call it quits. I'll be extremely impressed if he fulfills all six fights.]

Either way, UFC 105 presents North American MMA fans with a chance to conserve some funds while enjoying meaningful UFC matches across several divisions. While you're at it, why not try coaxing your still-uninitiated friends and family members to tune in? Personally, I've found that only the staunchest pacifists tend to have anything negative to say after giving a UFC card a fair chance. Men and women, the old and the young, hipsters and jocks alike-- nearly everyone has ended up enjoying "cage fighting" way more than they ever thought they would.

Even if your grandma's best friend Ethel isn't psyched for UFC 105, MMA fans across the Atlantic are. But, with four of the U.K.'s brightest stars on the main card, it's unclear exactly who these English fight enthusiasts are so eager to watch. It could be The Ultimate Fighter 9 winners James Wilks (6-2) and Ross Pearson (9-3). Or maybe they're more curious to see if Dan Hardy (22-6) earns a welterweight title shot by upsetting Mike "Quick" Swick (19-2). It could be that they're all desperate to know wether Michael "The Count" Bisping (17-2) will bounce back from a devastating knock out loss at UFC 100 by beating B.C.-raised fighter Denis Kang (32-11-1). Okay, so the majority are probably paying up to see "The Natural" just the same as we would be, but Wilks can dream can't he?

Whatever their reasons, Manchester's manic MMA fan-base has laid down their hard-earned pounds on UFC 105 in record numbers. According to the UFC's U.K. President, Marshall Zelaznik, "UFC 105 has exceeded our expectations. It’s already sold more tickets, generated more revenue than UFC 70 [which was also held at M.E.N Arena]. I couldn’t be happier with where we are in terms of our growth over the last two-and-a-half years.” He also gave impressive figures on the UFC's growing presence in international television, "[UFC 105] will be seen in over 50 countries and territories live. It will eventually be seen in 130 countries and territories and be available to 400 million homes around the world.”

For more from Zelaznik, check out this video courtesy of He details the UFC's impressive international ambitions for 2010, which could include cards staged in such far-flung locales as Hong Kong and The United Arab Emirates.

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