When watching a live, commercial broadcast of a mixed martial arts event such as UFC Fight Night 17, two things are required: patience and luck.
Patience is for the viewer at home. Unlike a pay-per-view show, the network carrying the event – in this case, Spike TV – is obligated to hit a specific number of commercial breaks for various reasons. Remember, it’s a business, but for that reason alone, the viewer can often get frustrated due to the slower-paced nature of the telecast.
And while those watching shows such as UFC Fight Night 17 require a bit of patience (insert Axl Rose chiming in, “Yeahhhh, yeah….); those producing them also need a little bit of luck.
Luck, as in good, quality fights. Fortunately, UFC Fight Night 17 delivered in this area, which is the main reason why the telecast as a whole was a success.
Because a commercial broadcast such as this one faces the challenge of having to hit so many commercial breaks, I’d personally like to see a major change made in the beginning of the broadcast.
It’s a change I’ve also suggested in my “Putting The ‘Fix’ in Affliction” article – shameless plug – but one I’d really like to see, especially for shows airing on commercial television.
Start the show with Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan quickly introducing themselves on camera. Next, have Goldberg toss it to the referee inside of the octagon, who then asks if the fighters are ready. Then, within the first 30 to 45 seconds of the telecast, your first fight begins. If both fighters survive the first round, use the time between rounds to do another introduction and quick preview of the night before getting back to round two.
Of course, this may be wishful thinking, but consider this – it took nearly 15 minutes of the telecast before the first fight of the night began (Anthony Johnson def. Luigi Fioravanti by TKO, round one). It took 34 minutes before the second fight began (Josh Neer def. Mac Danzig by submission, round two); and one hour, six minutes in before the third fight began (Cain Velasquez def. Denis Stojnic by TKO, round one).
Again, business is business and commercials pay the bills, but adjusting the way the top of the show is formatted instantly gives the viewers what they tuned in to see: a fight.
Having said that, Spike TV delivered six entertaining fights (four live, two on tape) to those watching at home. Three of those fights ended in the first round – with the other three ending in the second round.
The only true gripe I had in the pacing department was when Rogan had to take a few minutes to conduct an interview with DEA agent Brian Doyle, who was promoting season two of Spike TV’s “DEA” show. While the reasoning for my gripe was obvious – it has nothing to do with the UFC or mixed martial arts – I must admit, the show actually looks pretty good in a “Cops” kind of way. And if they pulled me in, I imagine they did so with some other viewers, which means that I should just keep my mouth shut and let those at Spike TV do their job.
Goldberg and Rogan turned in their usual, solid effort last night. But I believe that one particular sequence is worth pointing out.
I’ve always thought of Goldberg as a solid blow-by-blow man, as long as he avoids doing two things: 1) getting overly hyped about a fight, and 2) forgetting that he is not the analyst and that Rogan is.
Both Goldberg and Rogan train in the sport of mixed martial arts. For an analyst like Rogan, it not only makes him more knowledgeable of the sport, but also brings him more credibility with both the viewers and the fighters.
The same goes for Goldberg. Yet, every once in a while, I find Goldberg crossing over the line from blow-by-blow man to analyst. Simply put, his job is to call the shots and let Rogan describe the technicalities of the sport.
However, there are times when Goldberg actually needs to play the analyst role – and while those opportunities are rare, he excelled in it last night and deserves credit for it.
After Neer submitted Danzig with a triangle choke, Spike TV went to a commercial break. When they came back from break, a replay of Neer’s successful submission attempt was shown, with Goldberg – not Rogan – breaking down how Neer successfully applied the choke.
Why was Goldberg doing this opposed to Rogan? Because Rogan was already inside of the octagon with Neer, waiting to conduct his post-fight interview.
It’s not like Goldberg had writers feeding him scripted lines during the commercial break on what happened. And it’s unlikely Rogan had time to discuss the replay with Goldberg before heading into the octagon. So clearly, the producers were confident that Goldberg was able to break down the submission alone, which he did quite smoothly. Good job by Goldberg, and a solid example of how he could display his knowledge of the sport without stepping on Rogan’s toes.
OVERALL PRODUCTION VALUE -
Personally, I think it’s time for the UFC to do an overhaul with their graphics packaging. The color scheme is boring and out-dated, and in addition, the use of graphics on a show like Fight Night 17 seems almost non-existent, beyond the Tale of the Tape and Round/Time Remaining ones.
Also on a negative tip, I have never understood the way the producers and writers have Goldberg set up the top of these shows.
At the beginning of the telecast, Goldberg and Rogan were wrapping up their preview of the night’s main event, Lauzon versus Stephens. Goldberg made a reference as to how the 155 pounders were taking center stage in the main event, which was followed by him saying, “But, some heavyweights will be showcased on a jam-packed card as well.”
The way Goldberg delivered that last line, you expected to segue to the only heavyweight fight of the night, Velasquez versus Stojnic.
Instead, Goldberg continued on, voicing over a quick preview of the Danzig – Neer, Velasquez – Stojnic and Fioravanti – Johnson fights. Which, in turn, made this segment sloppy, confusing and a failure in the flow department.
There were also some technical glitches as well – a rarity with live UFC cards. With about a minute left in round one of the Fioravanti – Johnson fight, there was a time clock glitch, which resulted in it going out for the remainder of the fight. There was also a similar looking glitch with the trunks graphic at the beginning of the Danzig – Neer fight as well. And finally, in continuing my nitpicking quest, there were some bad takes of shots towards the end of the show when they were showing Lauzon in his dressing room after his win.
Of course, as usual with UFC related telecasts, there were several positive notes. The production crew seemed to roll in a good replay of Johnson taking a low blow in what seemed like just a millisecond after it actually happened.
And, unlike Affliction Entertainment, the UFC’s production crew showed why they’re the best in the game when it comes to audio. You can always tell how knowledgeable a crowd is by the way they react during specific segments of fights. When Danzig avoided danger and regained position in round two of his fight with Neer, viewers clearly heard the Tampa crowd cheering. Another example of the knowledgeable Tampa crowd was shown when they cheered Lauzon getting full mount on Stephens in the middle of round two. There was also great audio of Velasquez and his hammer fists nailing Stojnic, as well as the referee explaining his stoppage of the fight. During the Matt Veach - Matt Grice fight, excellent audio picked up Grice stating his case to the referee as to why the fight shouldn’t have been stopped – a notion that was also supported by Rogan.
THE FINAL WORD -
Overall, while a bit sloppy from a technical perspective at time – and disappointing in the graphics department – UFC Fight Night 17 was a very good, entertaining show to watch.
Goldberg and Rogan were on point, as was the production team when it came to replays and stellar audio. All of these aforementioned elements are critical in complimenting one another and telling the story of the fights – and until another promotion steps up their game and does it better, anytime you watch a televised UFC card, you’re watching the cream of the crop in the world of televised mixed martial arts.