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Postcard from the Couch: UFC 90 – Silva vs. Cote

Welcome to “Postcard from the Couch” – UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote.

Before we get to the action, I would like to thank those of you who commented on or emailed me about the first edition of P.C.F.T.C., which covered UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben. Some enjoyed the read, while others were extremely critical of my in-fight graphic suggestions and Bud Light Lime as my beer of choice. Regardless, I just want to say – pardon me, I’m just finishing this soothing, refreshing Bud Light Lime – that I truly appreciate your feedback, so please keep it coming.

With EliteXC now biting the dust, we’re reminded yet again that there’s essentially one game in town: the UFC. Does that mean they should stand pat on how they approach their televised events? No. Sometimes, change can be good. Other times, though, change is unnecessary.

Will this be the broadcast where we see something different?

Now, straight from my couch in New York City, it’s time for UFC 90: SILVA VS. COTE.

(Times presented in hour/minutes)

10:00 – The pay per view portion of UFC 90 is officially under way and I’m $45 poorer. However, in New York City, $45 is a cheap Saturday night. Plus, I don’t get billed for another 30 days. So as far as I am concerned, until then, it’s free.

10:03 - Out of the show open we see the obligatory “WE are sold out from….” shot, and Mike Goldberg starts things off with some excellent Anderson Silva facts:

  1. 7-0 in the UFC
  2. No fight has gone longer than two rounds
  3. Silva has not gone the distance in four years

Rather than see a talking head spew out these facts, I would rather see a split screen of Silva highlights on the left and those stats on the right. For one, it enhances those good statistics/facts. And two, it’s better eye candy for those who are watching it without being able to hear it, which can be the case if you’re at a party, a bar or simply deaf.

10:04 – Rogan, breaking down the main event, says about Cote: “He (Silva) is facing a guy who’s got the three most important qualities in MMA: heart, balls and power. Patrick Cote has all three of those in mass.”

Basically, Rogan just said that Cote has massive balls. Classic Rogan line, and kudos to him for A+ use of the word “balls.”

10:06 - Goldberg appears to be tossing to a pre-produced, voiced over package breaking down the other fights, saying, “Top to bottom, it’s gonna be another great night inside the octagon.”

We then see a mini-package voiced over by Goldberg on the Fabricio Werdum/Junior dos Santos fight, followed by the “Rules of the Octagon.” This began a confusing sequence as a viewer. I was expecting to see the other televised fights included in the Goldberg-voiced package. Because we didn’t, I then expected to come out of the rules portion with the Werdum/dos Santos fight, since it was the sole fight featured in the package. Instead, they went right to the Sean Sherk/Tyson Griffin pre-fight preview package. Huh?

If I were a betting man, I’d say this might have been a mistake. If it wasn’t, it was certainly an odd way to lead up to the first fight of the night.

10:10 - As Griffin approaches the Octagon, a graphic pops up with three Griffin-related facts: Strong Wrestling Base, Heavy-Handed and Well-Rounded. At the same time, Rogan supports the graphic by commenting on how every time they see Griffin, they see “another new and improved facet of his game…especially his striking.” Good stuff.

10:11 - Sherk reaches the octagon, and we learn via graphic that Sherk has fast takedowns, underrated striking ability and is a cardio machine.

Goldberg and Rogan have not mentioned this yet, but I believe that this would have been the perfect time to mention that Griffin’s last five fights have gone to the cards, while Sherk hasn’t finished an opponent in the UFC in nearly six years.

Mentioning these facts right before the fight began would have been a solid set up for a Goldberg, “Everyone should get their money’s worth tonight with this one” line.

Personally, I think this may be the equivalent of a 9-3 slugfest between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings at a snow-filled Solider Field. Since I mentioned that, I might as well make a prediction: Sherk via decision.

10:14 - DVR REWIND ALERT!!!! We have a classic Bruce Buffer moment. As he is saying, “Introducing first” he quickly turns from his right to his left, leading with his left arm and elbow, as if he were the lead monster dancer in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

I never thought I would say this, but my “Knockout of the Night” already goes to Bruce Buffer, who apparently just TKO’d a ghost via elbow strikes.

10:16 – Round one, and Griffin is carrying Sherk on his back while walking him across the Octagon. He’s doing this with a look on his face as if he’s searching for a place to lie Sherk down and tuck him into bed. This is one of those moments you find difficult to explain to casual fans when they ask, “What’s going on?”

10:18 - A “Couture vs. Lesnar” graphic pops up. And I am instantly reminded of how pumped I am for this fight. Are you?

10:20 - A very solid round one concludes. Goldberg asks about Griffin, “How many shots to the body like that is he going to be able to take?” Between now and the first minute of the second round, I would love to see a stat stating how many body shots Sherk landed. Also, as long as this fight lasts, I’d like to see how much time these two accomplished wrestlers are spending on the ground versus standing up.

10:26 – Round two. Griffin lands a nice left, prompting Goldberg to scream, “Are you kidding me!?!” Really, Mike?

10:27 - Round two concludes. Excellent fight to kick things off. Is anyone wondering how Saw 5 is doing this weekend?

10:33 – Fight over. Solid fight, with Sherk getting the nod via unanimous decision. Lucky call #1 by me.

10:36 - We see that text voting has 79% of fans in favor of Silva over Cote. I wonder what percent of the 21% are Canadian?

10:37 – There’s a quick Rachelle Leah in Playboy mention. Personally, I think I speak for a lot of men when I say that I wouldn’t have minded a small feature about her being in the issue. Maybe Dana and Co. feel it’s a cheap way to sell his product? Thoughts?

10:38 – We have a promo for UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar, that starts with “The biggest fight in UFC history.” Is it? I would love to hear the opinions of others on this. If it is, what fills out a Top 5 list? Let the hype begin.

10:40 – We see another Werdum/dos Santos pre-fight package. Some internet scribes find this to be a mismatch coming in (with Werdum as the heavy favorite). But, in trying to build up the fight, Goldberg says that dos Santos has not allowed an opponent to escape the first round.

10:47 - As Buffer is introducing the fighters, I’ll predict Werdum via TKO in round one.

10:48 – Hey, Magnum P.I. is in the house! Actually, it’s UFC legend Dan Severn.

10:49 – Wow! dos Santos stops Werdum with a vicious right uppercut! Fight over! Great replays show a slight left jab setting up the knockout punch. Goldberg and company deserves credit for their first-round fact nine minutes ago.

10:51 – Rogan over the replays of the KO: “Look at his (Werdum’s) ears wiggle!” (Best Marv Albert voice) “Joe Rogan…on fire!”

10:54 – TEXT VOTING UPDATE: We learn that Silva has now lost 5% of the votes so far, as “only” 74% of the voters now believe he will defeat Cote. Ironically, cell phone usage in Canada is up 198.7% tonight.

10:55 – According to my count, we now see the third Courture vs. Lesnar promo of the night. And that is not a complaint.

11:02 – “Harley Davidson…the only motorcycles worthy of being in the octagon.” It’s only a matter of time before the UFC goes Undertaker-style and has a fighter ride a Harley to the ring, right?

11:03 - As Buffer does the intros to Gray Maynard/Rich Clementi, I have absolutely no idea who will win this fight. But I’ll go with Maynard via decision.

11:07 – As Maynard executes a nice take down in round one, Goldberg, on cue, reminds us that he is a three-time All-American wrestler. Simple, but effective.

11:11 – Round two…another takedown by Maynard. I appreciate Maynard’s ground skills, but I would also appreciate it if a “Saw 6: Coming in 2010” graphic would pop up.

Also, those of us at home don’t have the option of picking a hot girl in the stands to stare at during this fight. The slow pace here is a golden opportunity for the UFC/Zuffa to pick up the pacing. Not that corner men are hot, but if you brought up the corner men in a small box during slower moments, it would prevent Goldberg and Rogan from having to provide filler for “dead” action. After all, Couture is in Maynard’s corner.

11:21 – Fight over, and a missed opportunity to enhance the fight with better production goes by.

11:23 – Buffer announces the decision, Maynard by UD. Two out of three for me. I am officially a mixed martial arts expert.

11:25 – TEXT VOTING UPDATE: After once dominating the polls with 79% support, Silva is at just 68% now as the main event nears. Riiiiiight.

11:26 – The Alves vs. Koscheck pre-fight package rolls. Personally, I’m a fan of Koscheck and his arrogance and willingness to play the “bad guy” role. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this may be the televised fight of the night because Koscheck won’t be able to resist going toe to toe with Alves. My prediction: Alves by TKO in round two.

11:28 – Nice job again, as Rogan talks about Koscheck’s wrestling background while a graphic says that he is a “College Wrestling National Champ.”

11:35 - Round one…The Pitbull rocks Koscheck. Is it me or does Alves look HUGE? Koscheck is back on his feet and appears to be willing to stand up.

11:38 - Couture vs. Lesnar pop up graphic alert! It’s at least the fourth promo for this fight tonight. And I’m still excited.

11:45 – Round two…as Alves is avoiding a Koscheck takedown against the cage, Rogan gives some great technical analysis on how Alves is doing this. This is where Rogan is at his best, because to common fans, it simply looks like they’re at a stalemate against the cage. Rogan is the KRS-One of MMA, always providing “edutainment.” I’m guessing just three to five people possibly got that reference.

On another note: my prediction goes down the toilet. And we’re going to round three.

11:52 - The fight ends. Koscheck shows great heart, but is simply out-gunned by a stronger Alves. UFC/Zuffa always excels in the replays department, and tonight is no exception, as Rogan walks us through shots that show Alves overpowering Koscheck. Alves is the winner via UD.-

11:57 - Another Rachelle Leah/Playboy promo is followed by Goldberg doing a strange Silva/Cote segue to a Transporter 3 preview. Saw 5….Transporter 3….what is it with the UFC and sequels? And Transporter THREE? Really?

11:59 – It’s now time for our main event of the evening. As Goldberg and Rogan set up the fight, we see a nice, easy to read, full-page graphic on Silva stating that he connects on 69% of his strike attempts. Rogan mentions, but we do not see it on the graphic, that the UFC average is 35%. The graphic also says that Silva has outstruck his opponents 624-249 (in his MMA career).

Cote is also given the full-screen graphic treatment, with two facts stating that he has a 50% success rate on strike attempts and has ever been knocked down.

Look, I get why they’re waiting to use graphics like this until the main event. Simply put, it gives the production more of a “main event” type of look and feel. However, these kinds of graphics are so simple to do for EVERY fight, so why not do this for the entire broadcast?

12:01 – TEXT VOTING UPDATE: The viewers are now supposed to believe that just 64% of the texting audience thinks Silva will beat Cote. This is down 15% from just one-hour and 25 minutes ago. Is Sarah Palin in Silva’s corner? Or are a lot of people up north just drunk texting right now for Cote?

That fraudulent update was followed by a nice preview package on the fight. If you’ve watched the fantastic Countdown show then you’ve basically seen it already. Still, a nice and necessary touch for those who hadn’t.

12:04 – As Cote enters the octagon, my final prediction of the night is Silva by highlight reel KO in round one.

12:09 – The “three-fact” pop up graphic on Silva comes up. Goldberg reads a solid fact: Anderson Silva is the most accurate striker in history of the sport. Why not say this over the graphic 10 minutes ago when you had numbers that backed up your statement? Sloppy.

12:12 - Buffer: “It’s tiiiiiiiime!!!!” Ironically and simultaneously, the camera quickly pulls out to a very wide shot of the crowd and octagon.

12:16 – The main event is under way, and with 3:00 left in round one and both fighters still feeling each other out, you almost expect Cote to just stop and say, “Okay, go ahead, do it now” to Silva.

12:17 – I’m pretty disappointed that Condom Depot isn’t in the house tonight.

12:20 - As round one concludes, I’m wondering if 1) Silva is actually bored and just trying to get some work in or 2) If he actually respects Cote’s power. You truly get the feeling that at any moment, Silva can push the “Destroy Opponent Now” button and finish Cote.

12:21 - Another prediction bites the dust, as round two begins.

12:24 – Good fact by Goldberg that Cote is about two minutes away from becoming the first man to take Silva to the third round in his UFC career.

12:26 – We’re shown Cote in his corner after the second round. And the UFC/Zuffa blows it by not putting up a graphic over Cote that compliments what Goldberg said two minutes ago. Doing this serves a few purposes: one, it builds up the drama more in the fight; two, it makes Cote appear to be more of a threat (than what he really is); and three, it reinforces what Cote just accomplished. Remember, if a viewer is watching this in a loud environment, they can’t hear Goldberg. If they look up and see this fact appear on screen, they may think, “Well, we have a fight here.”

12:28 – We’re in round three, and all of a sudden, Cote goes down with what appears to be a blown out right knee. Replays confirm in graphic fashion that this is likely the case. Silva is the winner by TKO in round three. Tough to watch.

12:33 – Good job having Rogan talk to Cote after hearing from Silva, but a classless gesture by those folks in the crowd who were booing Cote at the beginning of the interview.

12:35 – The pre-fight package to Thales Leites vs. Drew McFedries rolls, and we have a BONUS FIGHT ALERT! No complaints here, considering the disappointing ending to the main event. And, seconds after typing this, Leites wins via submission/rear naked choke.

12:45 – As Goldberg and Rogan continue to wrap up the night, Rogan finally explains (on air) why he is wearing the full beard. Rogan explained that he is doing this in tribute to the late Evan Tanner, even adding, “That’s why I look so goofy.”

Unfortunately, I was completely unaware of the reasoning behind the beard last week and proceeded to poke fun at Rogan for his new look. Of course, it was all in a joking manner, but this week, I owe him the props he deserves for the tribute.

12:48 – After two hours and 48 minutes, it’s a wrap!

This wasn’t the most action-packed card you’ll ever see. And the ending to the main event was certainly disappointing.

Did the telecast itself correlate with that? In a way, yes.

Like I said earlier, the UFC is, for all intents and purposes, the only game in town now. There’s essentially no competition to compare their product to. And they know they provide a good product. But, I continue to believe that it can be better, particularly in the graphics department. I understand those viewers who don’t want to be overwhelmed with graphics during a fight. But, they need to enhance their in-fight storytelling by providing more MMA-style statistics, whether it’s in between rounds or at the beginning of rounds. Their graphics presentation is too inconsistent; every fight should have had statistics like the main event. There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t do this.

Otherwise, I felt that the pacing was solid, especially with three fights going the distance. And we did get to see one bonus fight. Nothing exceptionally negative stood out for me when it came to Goldberg; but I must add, Rogan was excellent. He threw out some great lines, provided excellent technical insight and capped the night off by showing his connection to the sport and its fighters; first with Cote’s injury and then with the Tanner tribute.

Overall, a solid B+ broadcast, but with a D in the graphics department.

Thanks for reading – and until next time – I’ll see you right here, on the couch.

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