By Zach Arnold | April 4, 2015
Al Iaquinta telling the crowd “fuck you!” is the best UFC heel turn of all time.
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) April 4, 2015
I loved the UFC Fairfax, Virginia show on Fox Sports 1. Mornings & afternoons aren’t my thing but the crowd was great and there were some wild moments that made the show completely worth watching.
And then there was the Al Haymon Special on CBS that was full of Al Haymon Specials that boxing fans have had to choke on for the last few years. Al Haymon promoting fights that Al Haymon the advisor allegedly gets a cut of. What an industry.
The Jorge Masvidal vs. Al Iaquinta fight was a textbook example of how MMA judges look for completely different standards when scoring a fight. This was a pro-Iaquinta crowd. One judge scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Masvidal. The crowd agreed. The other two judges scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Iaquinta. The crowd was super pissed. Masvidal tried to bolt out of the cage only to be stopped by someone. Iaquinta got pissed at the crowd booing and told them to stick it Hogan NWO-style. He left the cage after Masvidal. This was spectacular television. A built-in re-match.
Julianna Pena returned and was a wrecking machine. We basically saw the end of Gray Maynard. Ricardo Lamas is a good fighter who is no longer a serious contender. Chad Mendes delivered when it counted. I came into the show with few expectations and was pleasantly surprised.
I came into Al Haymon’s CBS show with a limited amount of expectations. His show turned out to be a dud. Mismatches galore for his event on CBS at Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City. Adonis Stevenson had his squash match with 15-to-1 underdog Sakio Bika. Artur Beterbiev dispatched of Gabriel Campillo with ease. Julian Williams housed Joey Hernandez. What a snore-fest.
NBC took pains to try to build up the fighters with some video packages on their telecast. CBS didn’t even bother. They labeled the event a “CBS Sports Spectacular,” which is the same vernacular they use to market rodeo or skiing events that air against Fox NFL games for filler. Fans are conditioned to look it as a low level deal when they see the “sports spectacular” phrase. The only positive for the show was Kevin Harlan & Paulie Malignaggi working the mic.
Ok, Im told that the WBC supervisor at the fight was told to take their belt off the apron. LOL, #boxing
— Steve Kim (@steveucnlive) April 4, 2015
The telecast went out of its way to avoid using sanctioning body names although they couldn’t hide the shirt patches that the refs were wearing. There were fighters cutting promos for fights on other networks but they couldn’t say what those networks were. There was only a brief mention of upcoming events after the end of R1 of Stevenson/Bika.
Bizarrely, it appeared that the ring announcer was not in the ring again just like the NBC event. Haymon’s McMahon-esque quirks.
In a three hour block of paid TV time, it hardly appeared that Haymon’s operation was able to obtain significant sponsorship at all. His strategy of buying TV time everywhere at some point has to return an investment to his money marks. PPV is the only vehicle to pull this off. The CBS event came across as just another sanitized boxing show. Boxing writer Steve Kim says a big part of the fun with boxing is covering the carnival-like atmosphere. You certainly don’t get that with Haymon’s shows. But hey, ESPN has killed off Friday Night Fights to take the Haymon TV pay days. What will happen if Haymon’s deal implodes and TV networks demand promoters pay them as opposed to paying promoters to produce shows? Scorched Earth.