ESPN’s first UFC card is in the books. By and large, Saturday evening’s UFC Fight Night Brooklyn card, which was aired and streamed on ESPN+ and ESPN TV, was a fantastic event.
Unlike other opinion pieces I have done over the course of my time here at Armchair, I will categorize the key aspects that struck me over the course of Saturday’s card. Let’s begin with…
First off, the pacing of the card was very good. For the inaugural card in the UFC on ESPN era, I’ll admit that I did not know what to expect as far as how quickly the event would progress. At the same time, however, I was impressed with how brisk the pacing was on the main card.
It was done in about two and a half hours, which is a reasonable amount of time for an event such as this card. In all honesty, I was expecting the main card to run the advertised three hours.
The stoppage rate of the main card was another good aspect of Saturday night’s show. Five of the six main card fights ended in stoppages, with the lone decision in that stretch coming in Joseph Benavidez’s victory against Dustin Ortiz. Let’s move onto…
For the first card on ESPN+, the streaming was not without problems Saturday night. Those who attempted to watch the early portion of the undercard on a tablet, myself included, were unable to due to buffering. I was able to watch the early prelims on my iPhone without a problem.
Speaking of buffering, during the main card, specifically the Benavidez vs. Ortiz fight, the desktop version of ESPN+ malfunctioned, making both the English and Spanish feeds of the broadcast briefly inoperable.
This problem was corrected in the second round and didn’t happen again for the rest of the night. Okay, folks, it’s now time for…
Obviously, Greg Hardy’s disqualification in the second round of Saturday evening’s co-main event was the low point of the night. This is a man who had his chance at playing in the NFL taken from him and who has had to spend the last few years on a path toward redemption.
When he got his opportunity to fight in the UFC on Saturday night, he ruined it by his actions with an illegal knee to his opponent, Allen Crowder—to his head while he was on the canvas.
Onto lighter topics, can we talk about Stephen A. Smith? Max Kellerman’s colleague on ESPN’s late-morning debate show First Take made several appearances throughout the night. Smith’s involvement with the broadcast drew the ire of many on Twitter, including UFC featherweight Chas Skelly:
We’ve talked about what was good, what was bad, and what was ugly about the card, but let’s talk about the great. For me, this one was a no-brainer:
Megan Olivi receiving an extended role was great. Ordinarily, astute UFC viewers are accustomed to seeing Olivi, who is married to Joseph Benavidez, appear in backstage interviews with fighters and with UFC president Dana White after the main card’s conclusion.
On Saturday night, she appeared regularly during the card itself, offering insight on the fighters themselves in addition to her usual backstage duties.
As someone who believes the people who cover a sporting event should have as much importance as those who compete in a sporting event, this is something that was very much due. In my mind, Olivi is one of the best journalists in MMA, if not the. Here’s hoping this continues in the future.
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