Examining the UFC 78 Undercard

This Saturday night one of the most unanticipated UFC events will take place in one of America’s most unlivable cities: Newark, New Jersey.  We’ve all heard the arguments as to why Rashad Evans vs. Michael Bisping is pretty weak main event, but when it comes down to it we’re probably going to watch anyway.

For me, some of the most interesting bouts usually end up being the ones pushed far down on the fight card.  Sometimes the UFC will schedule a good old-fashioned mismatch, or sometimes a real dog fight to try and help them decide who to push in future events.  Often these bouts don’t make the live broadcast and we’re left to wonder whose blood is all over the mat when the pay-per-view portion of the event gets started.

UFC 78 has a couple of intriguing bouts on the undercard, and as usual I am enthralled by the phrase “may not be broadcast”.  There’s just so much damn mystery there I can hardly stand it.  Especially in two specific cases:

Jason Reinhardt (18-0) vs. Joe Lauzon (14-3)

Say you’re Jason Reinhardt.  You’re 38 years old, you’ve gone unbeaten in a bunch of small promotions against nobody who matters, and then the big show calls.  They want you to fight one of their former TUF contestants.  What’s going through your head when you accept?

My guess is it’s either a) hey, I could use three grand, b) at least I can tell my grandkids, in a couple of years, that I fought in the UFC, or c) this is the chance I’ve been waiting for.

I guess my question is, does Reinhardt think this is the beginning of his life as a big time pro fighter, or does he realize he’s being brought in because his record looks good enough on paper to justify feeding him to Lauzon?  I’m sure he’s working cheap, which might be part of his appeal, but he’s got to know that the UFC is not planning on seriously promoting him.

Maybe I’m just a sadist, but I hope they show this fight, regardless of what happens.  I want the chance to look at this guy and try and figure out what’s going through his mind.  And maybe some part of me also wants to see him win.

Akihiro Gono (27-12-7) vs. Tamdan McCrory (10-0) 

Here’s what you need to know about Tamdan McCrory: his nickname is “The Barn Cat”, the UFC website describes his strengths as “well rounded, awkwardly strong, deceiving appearance”, and then there’s his picture.  For his sake, I hope that his appearance is deceptive, because from where I’m sitting the guy looks like an autistic teenager who hates having his picture taken.

But then, the guy beat Pete Spratt, who is, at the very least, an adult.  That’s more than I would normally think the man pictured above could do.  Maybe that’s why the UFC site felt the need to do everything but say, ‘Hey, he’s not as bad as he looks.’

Then again, Gono is a serious fighter.  As long as we’re judging people on looks, he looks like you could stick him in a samurai suit and drop him on the front lines in the 15th century and he’d fit right in.

But looks aside, Gono has over four times as many fights as “The Barn Cat”.  And he fought some of the best Pride had to offer.  Is a guy like McCrory ready for that level of competition, or is the UFC trying to get this kid killed?

I can honestly say I have no idea.  The fact that this seems like such an obvious mismatch makes me think there must be something I don’t know about these two guys.  If the UFC was just trying to help Gono get over by giving him a human punching bag in his UFC debut, why wouldn’t they broadcast it?

This fight just baffles me, and I really want to see it.  If it isn’t aired, I might even pony up the $1.99 to watch it on the UFC website afterward, assuming it goes more than thirty seconds.  And assuming that McCrory doesn’t become the first MMA fighter to die in the cage.


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Filed under MMA, Sports, UFC 78

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