Greetings, friends. Long time no see. While you've been waiting for more MMA action (and suffering through a thoroughly one-sided beating by Pacquiao over Clottey), I've been occupied first with some stuff on the home front and then a ten-day trip to Bermuda with Habitat for Humanity.
I won't go into the personal drama (you can read some more about it here, which I promise is one of my old columns and not a link to the LiveJournal I kept in high school - shameful) but I'd like to report that Bermuda was almost criminally wonderful. (In our defense, we tried to change the trip to Haiti after the terrible earthquake there, but were told that they couldn't accommodate us in to help. So Bermuda it was. If you're going to do volunteer manual labor for a week, I strongly recommend doing it someplace where it's always 70 degrees and the water is bluer than a Smurfville mosh pit.)
But the takeaway point: I'm here now. For you. With cupcakes. Metaphorical fight analysis cupcakes.
And not a moment too soon, as we're in the height of MMA's version of March Madness. UFC is giving us three excellent cards in the next ten days, and they kick off with an interesting little get-together that marks the UFC's first appearance on Versus.
It's hard not to wonder what the Zuffa mothership's foray onto WEC's home turf means for the sister federation, especially with WEC's pivotal first pay-per-view approaching fast in April. The encroachment tends to make me believe Zuffa is hedging its bets by expanding the audience for UFC in the event the buyrate for Faber vs. Aldo comes in below expectations. Regardless, DirecTV and Versus have settled their beef in time to get the night of fights out to dish subscribers as well. That's a happy bit of news for Dana White and company, who have given this card more hype and attention than their typical televised Fight Night offerings.
Lou Thesz would be proud of Jon Jones' super suplexes.
Perhaps wanting to make sure that Versus fans get a show, the UFC has scheduled a night of sluggers with KO power and any one of the fights on the main card could end in a flash knockout. (We'll credit Clay Guida on the undercard as well, who may get his fight snuck into the televised portion after his original match against Sean Sherk was cancelled. Guida's workrate reputation seems to guarantee he'll be first in line.) James Irvin and Alessio Sakara are first up, and while the name value doesn't scream "meaningful fight" — neither man is a serious contender to Anderson Silva at 185, and indeed Irvin is coming off an embarrassingly one-sided loss to The Spider in the 205 division — the style of both fighters is "stand and trade hard." While it might not be a wonderfully technical fight, it does strongly suggest that the UFC is looking to lead off the card with fireworks. Given the subpar UFC records of both fighters, I'd expect that the loser may have fought his last in the Octagon. That could add to a sense of urgency that both fighters keep ratcheted up anyway.