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The WWE’s Jim Ross Dishes On UFC 87

The following is a blog-style entry from the WWE’s Jim Ross on his website at
regarding UFC 87 which took place in Minneapolis this past Saturday. In this piece, Ross talks production values, fighter interviews, and of course, Brock Lesnar. Enjoy.

–I am not an expert on the world of MMA. Let’s get that straight from the top of this piece of business. I am, however, a fan of MMA and I paid retail just like any other fan to watch the UFC presentation Saturday night that emanated from Minneapolis.

These are observations from, first of all, a MMA fan but also from a guy who has been in the sports entertainment biz for a few years who has been a part of many pay per view presentations since the basic inception of the pay TV. Some of my comments are as a MMA fan and some of my comments regarding the television presentation might be from my background from my “day job”.

So be it.

The Gladiator motif used in the opening graphics was excellent. The production elements to start the show were classy and felt new.

The pre-show interviews from the key participants felt unnecessary. After watching the 30 minute pre pay per view show, I felt like I had heard the material enough already. Let’s get to business.

But if pre show interviews are going to be used, the UFC should consider identifying the interviewees with graphics.

I know it’s all about the Benjamin’s but the text voting process needs some work. There is not much that can be done to make the sales pitch more palatable and this matter is not a problem exclusively belonging to the UFC. Many live events on TV are using text messaging polls but that doesn’t change my opinion. I will likely be reading some of the same type info on next Sunday at Summerslam.

As a budding restaurateur and marketer, I would have loved to have had a piece of the T shirt business in Minneapolis Saturday night. I wonder how much the bootleggers made selling rip off shirts a block away from Target Center?

The sponsor signs in the fighter’s corners has got to go. Or classed up. Something.

Announcers Goldberg and Rogan always do a solid job and I enjoy listening to them because it is clear that they thoroughly prepare for which I have ample respect.

I do think that they could lay out more especially on the fighter’s entrances so we fans at home can hear the natural ambiance. I like to hear boos, cheers, catcalls and all the other unique sounds that come from an atmosphere like Target Center was Saturday night.

I might have shown Adrian Peterson on camera earlier between rounds which would have avoided having AD butted right up against the start of a round. Yeah, I am a huge AD fan as he is one of our greatest Sooners…don’t get me started.

Demian Maia is a bad dude and is going to be special or perhaps I should say more special as time goes on. Maia’s got it all. Plus, I enjoyed watching him put on his sponsor laden T shirt in record time after his fight. It was a “Tap Out” shirt for the record so the advertising must have worked.

It’s easy to get too familiar with the Harley Davidson spiel…”only motorcycle worthy of being in the Octagon.” Please tweak the copy so I don’t tune out when I hear it. That’s not the purpose.

Is Bruce Buffer ever referred to as “Buffer-Light”? Buffer, who gets less camera time than yours truly, reminds me of an old time wrestling ring announcer. That’s not a bad thing in my world. I will give the man his due, Buffer busted a seam on the introductions of the main event.

The UFC needs a 3rd voice, a voice over guy, to read the copy for the fighter’s packages and any thing else they can take off Mike Goldberg’s plate. Doing play by play is plenty even with a partner like Joe Rogan.

Condom Depot dot com. Exactly. That was one of the primary sponsors for fighter Rob Emerson Saturday night. Amazing.

I am learning that guys that can execute kicks and that effectively utilize their knee strikes are amazingly dangerous. I’ll admit that I am a little slow on matters such as this but it just seems like kicks and knees are becoming more “user friendly” in the Octagon.

Cheick Kongo…heavyweight…interesting. I’m staying tuned. Old Cheick is another one that needs to work on his promos.

Heath Herring had the most effective entrance of the night. He borrowed my black hat gimmick but what’s a guy to do? Herring will feel like he’s been in a violent car crash by the time you read this and no one can ever say that Herring isn’t a tough S.O.B.

Brock Lesnar was a beast Saturday night winning by unanimous decision against Heath Herring. Lesnar who made weight at 265 likely tipped the Toledos at around 280 by fight time and used that weight and strength advantage effectively. Lesnar delivered some nasty knees throughout the fight. The former NCAA Heavyweight Champion (2000) can take any one down that I have seen in MMA. If there is a man out there that can keep his feet for extended periods of time against Lesnar then I definitely want to see that man compete.

Did you agree with Lesnar’s corner at the end of the 2nd round telling Brock to use his right hand more when it seemed that Herring is his most dangerous when standing/throwing AND because Lesnar was taking Herring down at will?

Lesnar’s first move of the night was a kick followed by a sick right hand. Herring survived that initial flurry by being $2 steak tough but this one was relatively academic after the first round. Lesnar’s MMA skill set has greatly improved and the athletic freak, a guy I signed to his first contract in the WWE, always seemed to me to be the kind of athlete that hated losing more than he enjoyed winning which is a scary philosophy for future Lesnar opponents.

Lesnar’s journey to become a great MMA fighter is far from over but the former Golden Gopher made up some serious ground Saturday night. Lesnar might not be the “Next Big Thing” in the UFC but he’s back in big picture.

Jon Fitch deserves a bonus for his courage and his will to compete in a losing effort against Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. Demonstrating that I would be a poor referee in this game, I might have stopped the fight early which would not have been the thing to do as things worked out.

St. Pierre dominated and won the 5 round unanimous decision but as impressive as GSP was one still has to marvel at the toughness of Fitch. Plus, Fitch is the type of athlete who learns from the experience and who redeems one’s self the next time in the Octagon.

Yeah, I want to see B.J. Noons vs. St. Pierre as there is the smell of serious money in this matchup. This will probably be a Vegas fight but how great would the atmosphere be to return to Montreal or to have the fight in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu? Or in Owen Field in Norman and J.R.’s Family BBQ ( can sell great “Q” and ice cold beverages. (That was silly albeit a gratuitous plug.)

One thing about this fight is that it most likely won’t be a “one off” contest. This confrontation has magic and money written all over it. If the UFC makes us wait until 2009 and they properly build the anticipation for this fight, the pay per view number will be mighty. Don’t rush this match is my point.

The broadcasters having to sell live event tickets during the action of the final two matches was distracting. Having been there I understand one reads what they are produced to read but from a fan’s perspective it annoyed me. Sell tickets between bouts or just use a graphic and no audio sell but keep the main event (s) clean.

Post match interviews on these events are often times a train wreck. That may be a good thing for some but for my two cents this aspect of the presentation needs addressing.

However, the post match of the St. Pierre-Fitch battle was a great moment and it’s things like this that “class up” the MMA world when many of the uninformed, some on athletic commissions, think that MMA should be either eliminated or more heavily governed. Like this country needs more government involvement in our lives.

Obviously the show ran heavy which would account for the abrupt way that this pay per view left the air. Time management issues can become the enemy on a live show and it seems as if that’s what happened Saturday night. Certainly not the end of the world and I am sure it was not the way that the UFC wanted to leave a successful night where they delivered an enjoyable and exciting pay per view.–

You can visit J.R.’s website at