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Bob Ryan’s pseudo about-face on UFC and how “BOOORRING” MMA is

By Zach Arnold | August 30, 2010

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My friend Josh Nason (JoshNason.com) alerted me to audio from Comcast Sportsnet New England’s Sports Tonight show with Gary Tanguay, Mike Felger, Dan Shaughnessy, and… Bob Ryan. They did a three-minute segment on Bob Ryan’s thoughts on UFC 118. Ryan recently wrote a column for The Boston Globe talking about his experiences at the event: Ultimately, this sport is a big hit.

After reading that column, Ryan appeared on television and jacked up the level of his column thoughts (on a 1-10 scale) to about level 12. There’s your set up point for the transcript of what was said on Sports Tonight on Monday.

CO-HOST: “What did you think? You were there. Were you a a boxing fan as a kid?”

BOB RYAN: “Yes. Oh, I grew up with the Friday Night Fights, the Wednesday Night Fights, all that stuff. Absolutely.”

CO-HOST: “Have you made the switch (to MMA)?”

BOB RYAN: “In all honesty, I’m just telling the truth. The biggest revelation I got from spending that evening at the Garden was how astonishingly BOOOOORRING this thing is. It is the most overrated… I do not remotely understand the appeal. There isn’t enough blood, there isn’t enough ACTION…”

CO-HOST: “Did you see the Marcus Davis fight, the first fight of the PPV?”

BOB RYAN: “Yeah, I saw the whole thing. That was an exception to the rule. That fight was bloody and they loved it. The fans don’t like the wrestling.”

CO-HOST: “I agree.”

BOB RYAN: “There are a sophisticated few martial arts experts who appreciate when there is a well-executed martial arts move to create a submission, yes, that is not the majority, it’s a small minority. The people want to see boxing, slugging, and they want to see when a guy gets down his face punched, that’s what gets them excited. It is the most boring nonsense. Most of the fights in the early, and granted it was described to me as batting practice, the early bouts, are guys in wrestling matches in which they were bad collegiate wrestling with nothing happening, boos raining down all over the building in the first three of the four matches. It was BOOOORRING and of course the big fight was of course, one of the two, the Toney fight which ended predictably with a boxer getting taken down and helpless. It was only his first MMA fight, I don’t think he’ll have another one of consequence because there’s no point to bringing him back for the show, he can’t do it. But, it was… I, I, I… the things you would think that would make this popular, action and stuff, IT’S BORING. IT IS BEYOND BORING.”

CO-HOST: “And, of course, the Boston College guy choked, which is NO BIG SURPRISE. They do it across all sports. … Bob, you nailed it. When they’re on their feet boxing, it’s entertaining. That first fight was unbelievable but when they’re on the mat rolling around and the jiu-jitsu, no one is paying them money for that. So if this thing can figure out how to keep their guys on their feet and just box without rules, which is really what it is, then I think they’re onto something.”

DAN SHAUGHNESSY: “I mean, I don’t understand, the tickets are so expensive and it’s a young, you know, it trends very young demographic here. Who’s going to this thing? Where are they getting the money to go this thing?”

CO-HOST: “I have to tell you, I talked to some people, they saved up for a year. People knew they were coming. Literally $300 a ticket, he saved up, put the money aside, they knew it was coming and they put the money away.”

BOB RYAN: “You get the trappings of the WWE, you get the booming music, you get the lights and the flashing and you get the videos and you get the ring girls and all that stuff and you know Buffer in the ring and a BETTER Buffer.”

CO-HOST: “Yeah, he’s a better Buffer, I agree.”

BOB RYAN: “He’s wonderful. I LOVE this guy. I would go pay to hear him announce anything.”

CO-HOST: “Wow.”

BOB RYAN: “He’s wonderful. That was the highlight of my evening, OK? It’s just… I, I, I… the things…”

CO-HOST: “When Bruce Buffer is the highlight of your evening, OK, you’re not buying (into) it.”

BOB RYAN: “The things that you would think make it have appeal aren’t there. It’s not there. I don’t understand how people can be satisfied with so little [excitement].”

Related: The fans were the real losers at UFC 118

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 28 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

28 Responses to “Bob Ryan’s pseudo about-face on UFC and how “BOOORRING” MMA is”

  1. Mr. Roadblock says:

    He’s right. MMA is getting boring. It’s actually getting soccer like.

    You now have a bunch of fans saying why people that don’t like the boring, not leading to a finish aspects of the sport “don’t get it” or “don’t appreciate the real art of the sport”.

  2. Mark says:

    The show was terrible.

    If my first exposure to MMA featured the complete farce that was Couture-Toney and Gray Maynard doing a takedown for 3 punches to end the round, I’d never want to see it again.

    Dana got all emo in the media about how ashamed he was of the UFC for UFC 112, but he’s acting like his big hometown debut was a complete success. I thought this show was as bad if not worse than 112.

    “You get the trappings of the WWE, you get the booming music, you get the lights and the flashing and you get the videos and you get the ring girls

    Uh, they have all of that in boxing too, ya know.

    • I’ve been to a UFC and I’ve been to boxing events. I will tell you that the presentation of a UFC event is very very different than a boxing show. In many ways, for the better.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    UFC 116 & 117 were super exciting. 118 was not. And now many of the internet fans are now claiming that the UFC has been boring for a while.

    Makes no sense to me. They complain if fighters kickbox too much. Then they complain if there is too much grappling. This is why Zuffa doesn’t cater to these fans. There are so fickle. And besides, they still purchase the PPV’s in the end.

    UFC 118 wasn’t the best event, but that is bound to happen once in a while. Get over it.

    • Mark says:

      Complaining about the kickboxing and complaining about the grappling are both valid, though.

      They’re complaining that UFC is pretty much forcing fighters to stand up the whole time, even if they suck at it, if they expect to 1) get bonus money, which the non-headliners can all use desperately. And 2) get featured on the main card in future shows. If they want to bring in real kickboxers, then that is great. But what isn’t great are the sloppy fighters fighting for fight of the night bonuses headhunting and sloppily throwing haymakers in an attempt to pop the crowd. How ’bout some skill? If they want to please fans with stand up, how about raiding K-1 and matching them up against each other so you’re guaranteed a KO. You can say “but that will ruin the divisions if they just fight each other.” Well, it’s not like Chris Lytle or Marcus Davis or Clay Guida will ever get a title shot exactly.

      And nobody is complaining that there’s too much grappling. They’re complaining that there’s too much boring grappling. There’s a huge difference between a Maynard or Fitch fight and a Nogueira or Sotiropoulos fight. It’s absolutely true that UFC is in danger of driving fans away if they’re overrun by dull wrestlers, so they need to change their round scoring system to prevent this. And I’m not just saying that because I saw a bad card, I’ve been saying that for years. MMA had a long stretch of lay n prayers, they did away with it for a while with stricter stand up rules, but with the influx of NCAA wrestling fighters it has been back for a few years and unless the rules change it is here to stay.

      You’re right, there’s some hyperbolic BS about “OMG UFC IS FINISHED BECAUSE THIS SHOW SUCKED~!” And that’s stupid to say. But the thought is there because it was beyond a terrible show. Not quite Strikeforce: Nashville level, but among the worst shows in UFC history. And the difference between this terrible UFC show and other bad UFC shows is the amount of hype this got that made it so important. Which is why Dana isn’t being honest about how horrible it was whereas on other shows he’ll be perfectly honest that it sucked major.

      • Mark says:

        Let me clarify I meant “ensure they get featured on the main card.” I know there’s lots of grapplers who get main card slots, but if you aren’t a major fighter you’ve got to work to get on the lower-televised portion of the show. But there’s no excuse to constantly have the Davis’ & Lytle’s of the world on every single broadcast.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    A point should also be made of the Boston media in general. Take the Red Sox for example.

    They are tied for the 4th best record in the American League. They are only 1 game behind the #3 team. They have had tons of injuries this year that have hurt their team. However, due to the division they are in, they are likely not going to make the playoffs.

    Instead of the media looking at it rationally and saying hey this just wasn’t there year but they are still a good team….. They are ripping apart the team every chance they get. Wanting the team to make huge changes for no reason.

    The media in Boston is the most brutal of any sports market. It;’s far worse then then New York. Anything that is said in Boston is far from reality.

    • Black Dog says:

      45, I’m from that area, and you are so right. The Boston sports media are just like their fans; they are a bunch of spoiled whiners, and show very little in the way of loyalty. When the teams win, everything’s nice and wonderful; lose one game, they want a starting pitcher sent to the minors; if he loses another, they want him traded; if he loses again, they want him shot.

      Ryan and Dan S. are two of the worst sportswriters ever; they both think (like a lot of national alleged writers) they are the story because they are reporting it, and will do anything to put the attention on themselves.

      Neither know a thing about MMA; the closest thing they know about fighting is something they saw outside the Charles St. Pub, while they were runnning away from it. They’re a pair of crotch-grabbers, and make Kevin Iole look like an objective commentator.

      I didn’t see the card, but to be honest I would not have watched Toney get pummeled by Couture even if you gave me a ticket.

      Larger matter of boredom: I’ve said this before, I thought that the object of the fight was to win it, not dance around and make it look like the WWE.

      • Oh Yeah says:

        I liked the two LW fights but thought Couture-Toney was boring as hell. Randy used a takedown that noone outside of amateur MMA would bother with (low single at Toney’s ankle), then took 10x as long as Brock (not a black belt) to lock in an arm triangle against a less skilled opponent.

        Everyone cheered loudly, it was stupid.

      • Brendan says:

        Say what you will about Dan Shaughnessey, but Bob Ryan is a Legend, and one of the best sportswriters/columnists Boston has ever had, and that includes the likes of Gammons, Will McDonough, Leigh Montville, Jackie MacMullen, etc. The man has never been a fan of mma, and has said it many times, but has always given the athletes their due, and wrote it off as just not something for him. He still went to the event, talked to a lot of the fighters and people around the Garden, sat with Dana for a while, and stayed from bell to bell, watching every fight.

        Sunday, Bob wrote an honest column, and gave an honest opinion. He saw an average (at best) event, and wasn’t blown away. He gets what its about, and is one of the few writers who correctly point out that while some of us like the “mixed” in our mma, most people want stand up fights. The stand up fights they see are often quite rudimentary in skill when compared to boxing, and he recognizes this.

        Cliff notes: don’t compare Bob Ryan to Dan Shaughnessey. They are nothing alike.

        Also, I’d like to point out that there is absolutely no “About Face”. Bob gave the UFC all the credit in the world, but it wasn’t for him, and explained why. There’s no contradiction. He should be praised for giving the sport a shining Sunday Front Page of the Sports Section article in spite of his personal views. How many writers do you see doing that?

        Not many.

  5. […] the street. Even Bob Ryan started out with some kind words. Then last night he went on local TV to explain how boring his Saturday night was for […]

  6. Tradition Rules says:

    45 Huddle says:

    “UFC 116 & 117 were super exciting. 118 was not. And now many of the internet fans are now claiming that the UFC has been boring for a while.”

    You’re right.

    The funny thing is, many of the same people don’t make as much noise when a Sunday Night Football game is just as boring, “because it’s football”. Not say they won’t complain about it, just that they won’t make as much noise.

    “Makes no sense to me. They complain if fighters kickbox too much. Then they complain if there is too much grappling. This is why Zuffa doesn’t cater to these fans. There are so fickle.”

    You nailed this right on the head.

    “UFC 118 wasn’t the best event, but that is bound to happen once in a while. Get over it.”

    It’s true that many fans paid to see an exciting event, and, sure, they are allowed to be disappointed and voice their disappointment, but they need to understand that this is a combat sport. It’s not like taking a shot at a basketball hoop, shooting a puck at a hockey net or trying to throw a touchdown pass.

    And this idiot actually saying “There isn’t enough blood…”

    Excuse me, but what a dumbass.

    If he wants to see blood, he should go see a slasher horror flick.

    And then to make the comment of a simpleton in regards to Buffer doing the announcing saying “He’s wonderful. I LOVE this guy. I would go pay to hear him announce anything.”

    What a moron.

    This guy is one of those people that believes because he has the gift of speech, he knows what he is talking about.

    • Mark says:

      The funny thing is, many of the same people don’t make as much noise when a Sunday Night Football game is just as boring, “because it’s football”. Not say they won’t complain about it, just that they won’t make as much noise.

      You get NBC for free. You’re (hopefully) paying $45 for a UFC show. I couldn’t care less if I saw a bad Fight Night, but yes, I do get pissed off when I have to pay money for a lousy PPV. And no, I won’t start streaming or downloading. I do go out of my way to support the sport.

      • Oh Yeah says:

        Maia/Miranda was doomed to be boring. I’ve never found Maia exciting since I first saw him take forever to sub Jason “the Athlete” McDonald, and his game is still not well-rounded. It got even sillier when he repeatedly gave up dominant positions where he could take free GnP on Miranda in order to flub submissions. At least if you’re going to be boring, fight properly. Then, he was the exhausted fighter at the end of it all – not Miranda, who refused to fight back for the entire bout.

        Couture/Toney, ugh. Very little value in that fight.

        Very happy to see the top 4 LWs go at it and the title fight was a thing of beauty. Interesting to see Florian with no answer for Gray after all of the work he put in. He subjected MMA Live viewers to Stephan Bonner to fight like?

      • Tradition Rules says:

        Absolutlely right Mark.

        I knew someone would,understanably, say exactly what you have said, which is why I was sure to point out “It’s true that many fans paid to see an exciting event, and, sure, they are allowed to be disappointed and voice their disappointment,…”

        My point is that, sometimes, it just can’t be helped.

        I personally get much more upset at spending $9.50 on a movie with a predetermined ending with a lousy story/plot that is hyped up and sucks.

        I have to say that I was dissapointed somewhat as well, but it is more of a lack of excitment factor then a bunch of overpaid guys ( and yes, I do love football) not performing up to expectations they have set.

        These guys put it all out there, because they have to,… they don’t make anywhere near what other athletes make, so it certainly is not from lack of effort.

        • Mark says:

          IMO I wouldn’t call Maia boring. He’s just a throwback to the BJJ fighter who basically only knew BJJ. It’s like if Royce got in a time machine and came to 2010 UFC. A BJJ fighter with little else can no longer depend on knowing nobody knows how to defend submissions, and everybody and their momma is a wrestler, so playing the takedown game with no wrestling pedigree is damn near impossible. But what Maia does well, he does very well, so he’s still able to win. But he’s been exposed too much as being seemingly from 1994 to beat top comp.

          I knew someone would,understanably, say exactly what you have said, which is why I was sure to point out “It’s true that many fans paid to see an exciting event, and, sure, they are allowed to be disappointed and voice their disappointment,…”

          But you’re still looking down on them for being angry with the show. It’s like getting pissed at somebody for thinking their hamburger wasn’t very good. The customer has a right to complain, and NFL fans are not customers since no money is exchanged unless they buy the “NFL Season Ticket” deal. Then even then they have no right to complain because they have several games to choose from.

          My point is that, sometimes, it just can’t be helped.

          Of course it can’t be helped. Of course you’re just going to have shows where nothing goes right. But getting mad at people saying so makes no sense unless you’re playing the UFC schill of the week.

          Of wait, I just remembered from the last show we discovered from our internet detectives UFC is working fights. THEY COULD SO HAVE HELPED IT~!

          I personally get much more upset at spending $9.50 on a movie with a predetermined ending with a lousy story/plot that is hyped up and sucks.

          That’s just not a good argument. You could go to Rotten Tomatoes or your local newspaper to read a review saying “this movie is awesome/this movie is decent/this movie is terrible” and have a better idea on if you want to see the film or not.

          Then, for 35 more dollars (unless you’re a PPV thief or going to bars) you have a show that if everybody shows up to fight instead of do just enough to win and the match making is up to snuff, will be an enjoyable show. Or if everybody phones it in and Joe Silva puts out crappy match ups will suck. It’s a gamble until it happens. There’s no comparison.

          I have to say that I was dissapointed somewhat as well, but it is more of a lack of excitment factor then a bunch of overpaid guys ( and yes, I do love football) not performing up to expectations they have set.

          Who cares how much money NFL players make? Unless you’re buying over priced tickets to the game you see them for free and billionaire team owners are signing their paychecks. Meanwhile in MMA we directly pay for the fighters salaries since UFC pays them with our PPV dollars. So since we’re contributing to their paychecks, why wouldn’t you take more offense to them not performing to the expectations you set? That makes no sense.

          These guys put it all out there, because they have to,… they don’t make anywhere near what other athletes make, so it certainly is not from lack of effort.

          Did two guys who spent a whole round nervously attempting to hold hands like awkward teens on a date really put it all out there? How about the guy who basically took a legal dive for nearly a million dollars? Or the guy who spent two minutes getting his ass kicked before running to the back to sobbingly eat a slice of cake to comfort himself? I’ll take the guys who are on the field 60 minutes in this “who does more” debate.

  7. Fluyid says:

    We’re all entitled to our opinions, in my opinion.

  8. Steve4192 says:

    Bob Ryan is a fossil. Thankfully, his generation is quickly approaching their expiration date and are being replaced by reporters/broadcasters who are more in tune with current attitudes and preferences of sports fans.

  9. David M says:

    There is no lower form of life than sportswriters.

  10. edub says:

    I see both and raise you Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton…

  11. […] until you read his answer about watching the Gray Maynard/Kenny Florian fight. Hint: He channels the same spirit as Bob Ryan & Mike Felger along with Gary Shaw’s […]

  12. Tradition Rules says:

    Mark says:

    “But you’re still looking down on them for being angry with the show.”

    No, I’m not looking down on “them”, and I’m not saying they cannot voice their disapproval. Just those that now say “MMA is SOOOOOO boring” or have no understanding that sometimes (always actually) the excitement factor is beyond control.

    “Of course it can’t be helped. Of course you’re just going to have shows where nothing goes right. But getting mad at people saying so makes no sense unless you’re playing the UFC shill of the week.”

    I guess I could say that you are the “anti-shill” then?

    I’m so tired of people throwing around the word “shill”, its such a substitute for a lack of of an argument ( and I don’t mean a fight) when having a discussion.

    If you don’t agree, hey, that’s cool. We just have a difference of opinion. But people don’t have to assume that someone is a shill….

    “It’s like getting pissed at somebody for thinking their hamburger wasn’t very good.”

    Completely different, not even a close comparison.

    If my burger tastes funny, is either over cooked or under cooked, I can tell my server, have it sent back and get another. I cant tell ZUFFA, “Hey, my PPV wasn’t exciting enough,…I want another or my money back!” 🙂 That’s why there is a disclaimer like “Fight card subject to change”.

    Its more like the “bad movie” comparison I made. The PPV may be more expensive, but with a massive multi-million dollar budget & a bunch of over paid actors, the story and plot are in control, so when a movie sucks, I feel I have more of a reason to complain.

    Not that fans can’t be upset, with a PPV, and voice their disappointment, just to show a little understanding in the reality that a….”SLOWER” fight card will probably happen from time to time.

    There have been plenty of boxing fight cards that have been disappointing as well, PPV otr otherwise, but boxing fans seem to have more understanding of this.

    I think this card seemed SOOO bad, even more so, because the two prior were so much more enjoyable.

    “That’s just not a good argument. You could go to Rotten Tomatoes or your local newspaper to read a review saying “this movie is awesome/this movie is decent/this movie is terrible” and have a better idea on if you want to see the film or not.”

    Actually THAT is not a good argument, because I’ve read or seen reviews & I’ve completely disagreed.

    And as I’ve said, I feel I can hold Hollywood much more responsible for a bad movie then I can a fight promoter for a boring card.

    In the past, I would pay for the PPV, pitch-in in with a friend at his place. I would personally like to continue this trend, but other don’t want to pitch-in even $2.00 a person if we would have a group. We watch it at a local place where many of our group can watch socially.

    I can’t get the PPVs as I don’t have cable,…not that I can’t afford it, but I just don’t feel like getting 65 channels & me having to pay for 55 channels I’ll never watch.

    “Who cares how much money NFL players make? “

    Ryan Leaf, Brian Bosworth, Matt Leinart,….these guys were all overpaid and never produce ANYWHERE near what was expected of them. And there are plenty more where they came from that can be listed, these are just the few that come immediately to mind.

    I care because it ruins the sports for those who can no longer afford to go enjoy a sports event live.

    “Did two guys who spent a whole round nervously attempting to hold hands like awkward teens on a date really put it all out there?”

    When did that happen?

    “How about the guy who basically took a legal dive for nearly a million dollars?”

    Hey, I agree with you on this one,….but everyone went crazy where I was when Randy won the fight, so in that manor, UFC gave MOST (not me) fans what the wanted to see.

    “Or the guy who spent two minutes getting his ass kicked before running to the back to sobbingly eat a slice of cake to comfort himself?”

    HA!

    This is funny! I don’t know what this is about,…any details? 🙂

    “I’ll take the guys who are on the field 60 minutes in this “who does more” debate.”

    Well, I never that “they do more”, just that they get paid a great a great deal less for what they do.

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