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What Made UFC 164 Great? (Hint: It’s The Same Thing That Made UFC 1 Great!)

What Made UFC 164 Great? (Hint: It’s The Same Thing That Made UFC 1 Great!)

Thanks to all who followed our coverage of UFC 164 in Milwaukee here at Caged Insider. It’s always an honor to be a part of your experience with mixed martial arts. I hope we helped you enjoy the evening.

While I’ve read some dissenting opinions, the event seems to be receiving good reviews overall. What’s funny is that the reasons people liked it — well, they aren’t so consistent.

Maybe any show will have it’s good and bad though.

The bad? Some fans would have liked to see the main event and co-main event develop a bit more, sure. But everyone agrees both fights had some memorable action.

Likewise, I’ve heard some frustration about the undercard lacking the high caliber fighters of UFC events in years past. This is, of course, unavoidable with the large number of shows that the promotion schedules. It’s interesting that the one glaring exception to this would be the Gleison Tibau against Jamie Varner didn’t offer any of the undercard’s highlights. But it was a solid (if unspectacular) bout between two staples of the lightweight division.

So what made this show great? The explosive standup exchange between Josh Barnett and Frank Mir? Watching hometown guys in Ben Rothwell and Chico Camus light the crowd up in their victories? Camus’ emotional post-fight speech?

Nah. Not to this observer, anyway. (They were all cool though. Even if I’m still not sure Camus won that fight.)

What made this show pop — where a lot of UFC’s don’t pop — was the same thing that made UFC 1 great.

Do you remember Jim Brown’s words, quietly reflecting on the action that night at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, on November 12, 1993? (20 years ago???)

“Fighting… isn’t what we thought it was.

It’s that lesson which we have to learn, and re-learn…

Do you remember? The smallest competitor in the inaugural UFC tournament was Royce Gracie, who used a little-known jiu-jitsu style to defeat all three of his opponents and take home the $50,000 prize. He had boxer Art Jimmerson tap in submission, it seemed, out of fear. He took shoot fighter Ken Shamrock and kickboxer Gerard Gordeau out with chokes. Who thought of that? Fighting was about kickboxing and karate; beatdowns and Bruce Lee.

Yes, we know that Royce’s big brother Rorian was matchmaker and co-founder of that event. Some say it was all kind of an advertisement for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and that’s not entirely false. But, the fights were real — and the impact on all of us was too.

UFC 164 likewise began and ended with two beautiful submission finishes.

First, Magnus Cedenblad gracefully caught a rushing Jared Hamman in a guillotine choke, rolling the veteran into mount before getting the finish.

Later, in the main event, Anthony Pettis would win the UFC Lightweight Championship by catching Benson Henderson with a tight arm bar out of a closed guard. BJJ 101! The technique is broken down by Royce’s nephew Rener Gracie here, with Lyoto Machida helping out.

Both finishes were in the first round… kind of like UFC 1, where every finish came within five minutes.

Sure, the competition would change after that first UFC event, and fighters would bring new skills to the table. We’d find that jiu-jitsu wasn’t the be-all, end-all to fighting. Great fighters were from every discipline, or, it seems, all disciplines put together. Over time, everything from weight cutting to TRT would enter the mix too.

But those great jiu-jitsu skills can end a fight at any time, and that’s something we didn’t know back in 1993. Sometimes we forget it in 2013. We need nights like this past Saturday to remind us. That’s what made it a great night.

At least, that’s my take. Let us know yours!

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