A few months back, it was announced on the Ultimate Fighting Championship website that that the heavily-awaited Interim Welterweight Championship bout between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit at UFC 143was to be screened in movie theaters across the country in 3D. I scoffed for a bit, especially when Dana White, president of the UFC, said “I know the fans love 3-D, so I’m happy to give them this championship fight live and in 3-D in theatres across the country”. I’m not so sure that we, as a society, love 3D as much as they’d like to believe.
But regardless, I was intrigued. This had never been done before- the 3D filming, at least. UFC had broadcast a handful of pay-per-view events at select movie theaters before, but not since the Brock Lesnar/Cain Velasquez fight in October 2010. I attended the first UFC theater experience at UFC 111, featuring the Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre (who is out on injury, which is why Diaz/Condit fought for an interim belt) and Dan Hardy, and had a pretty amazing experience. Watching a PPV for maybe 1/3 the cost, in a crowded room full of MMA enthusiasts, on a huge screen in HD is an excellent deal. But this time, UFC was going to broadcast all the punches, kicks, submissions and trash talking…in 3D! It was either going to be completely awesome and an amazing experience, or a total bust, with a crappy conversion and boring fights. I’m here to say that it really was neither, but that I had a good time regardless.
I don’t want to spend too much time on reviewing the fights, because this isn’t an MMA forum, but I’ll add my two cents with some bulletpoints at the end of this review, but for now, I’ll just give an overview of the experience.
Before the Event
I arrived at the theater around 6:45, 15 minutes before the pay-per-view was set to start. Luckily, they played the Countdown to UFC 143 special (which basically is a “hype video” for the event- giving you stats, insights and history of the fighters and why their match-up at the PPV will be important) before the fight started, and I was surprised to see that UFC actually converted the video to 3D. You can tell that the video itself wasn’t filmed in 3D, so it didn’t look too hot, but overall, it was understandable.
Then the actual PPV started up, as the crowd (maybe about 140 people in a 200 seat theater) settled in, and we were treated to a new UFC intro sequence! As UFC fans would know, the infamous “gladiator” intro (which I’ve imbedded below) was replaced this weekend with a kinda neat intro featuring some of the most memorable knockouts & fights in UFC history composited over scenes of a building breaking from the inside (to make it look like the fights were so brutal that they’re destroying the building from the inside out).And then we were showed the arena pan and introduced to our announcers for the night, Jon Anik and UFC lightweight fighterKenny Florian. Normally, the UFC PPVs are announced by the team of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan (who are always excellent at what they do), but since the 3D feed is separate from the 2D feed that folks were getting at home, it was understandable that they needed a different announcing team to handle that. I missed Joe & Mike from the broadcast (Joe Rogan did do post-fight interviews with the winners in the octagon after), but Anik & Florian did a solid job calling the action.
During the Event
I’m not really interested in giving a review of the fights, like I had mentioned before, but I can review the experience, and overall, I had only a few complaints. This was the first time that UFC had ever broadcast 3D footage on a nationwide scale, and as such, there were a few hiccups throughout. Everything that happened in real-time was filmed with actual 3D cameras, but all of the archived footage was converted to 3D afterwards, and it really showed. Because the feed was in 3D, the cameras were placed at different angles than what you’d be used to when watching a 2D UFC fight. The angles were more canted, placed at angles on top of the cage, as opposed to dead center or in the corners. This gave a bit more depth to the fights (think the 3D angle in Super Street Fighter IV for the Nintendo 3DS), but the video wasn’t popping out at you constantly, which was nice. Specifically, the Roy Nelson/ Fabricio Werdum fight would transfer to a behind-the-shoulder viewpoint for portions of the fight, and it came close to looking like you were at the event yourself. The entrances for the fighters looked absolutely stellar, as well. Watching the fighters backstage, performing reps or exercises legitimately had a clean look and popped out of the screen, which was very, very impressive. The onscreen graphics, including the logos, titles and the round timer were slightly rotated inwards as to pop into the screen, and looked nice as a result.
However, the angles in the octagon were not always ideal for the fights, and there was switching to the single-lens cameras (which output a noticeably converted feed to our theater) but that’s something that can be solved in the future by employing other 3D cameras around the cage. Also, there was a decided lack of the Octagon Girls in 3D, with only one Arianny Celeste appearance throughout the 3 hour event. Bummer.
Overall, except for one of the five fights, the event was a fun one, the crowd really got into it, and it was an interesting experience. $25 (which is about half of what you’d pay for the PPV in standard definition) was a pretty solid deal for the chance to see some brutal fights on the big screen, surrounded by your peers, in three-dimensions. I’d go again, but I hope that A. UFC only uses the format for the really important and high-selling PPV cards (fights including Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, etc) and B. that if the UFC commits to the idea of 3D, that they plan for it ahead. Maybe have the intro movies remade specifically in 3D or add a couple of more 3D cameras during the broadcast. Otherwise, I’d give a pretty solid recommendation to the UFC’s first PPV in 3D, and I’d most certainly go again sometime.
- Kenny Florian is basically a Bizarro version of Ben Stiller, if Ben Stiller could break your arm.
- The Josh Koscheck fight was by far the worst fight of the night. Slow, stiff, boring and an absolute chore to watch. Since Josh Koscheck is “the most hated man in MMA”, the fans understandably booed him out of the building after his decision victory, and his post-fight interview amounted to giving the crowd the finger and saying “I somehow find a way to win”. I don’t like Josh Koscheck just because he’s a bland, boring fighter (that’s a good reason), but because he has no fucking personality whatsoever. If he’s going to be a bad guy, be the bad guy, don’t half-ass it. Chael Sonnen fully commits to his image, and Nick Diaz just says whatever the fuck is on his mind, but Koscheck doesn’t give a crap either way. He must be a chore to be around in real life.
- On the other hand, Roy Nelson is absolutely perfect at being the hometown big boy who just happened to get a chance to fight in the UFC. And that’s no schtick- that’s Roy Nelson. He’s just a chubby dude who likes to eat, drink and punch people out. Nothing more, nothing less. He’s the Hacksaw Jim Duggan of the UFC. He also looked fantastic against Werdum, who is overall a stronger fighter. Werdum’s the man who slayedThe Last Emperor, after all.
- I can agree with Condit winning the decision over Diaz if Condit won with a score of 48-47. But two 49-46 votes and a unanimous decision? That’s some bullshit. The match was too close to give to either fighter decisively, which is why there’s an uproar over the decision right now.
- Diaz’s post-match interview was just about as close to an example of “ragequitting” as you’d get in the UFC. Pretty brilliant though, and I understand how Diaz feels (it really could’ve been his match), but I doubt he’ll actually retire. He’s just pissed off by the sometimes questionable politics of MMA scoring, understandably so. But man, what I would’ve given for a Nick Diaz/GSP staredown at the end of the PPV.
- Jon Anik did hint at future UFC PPVs in 3D. I’d certainly go to another one. Maybe we’d be so lucky to see Silva/Sonnen 2 in 3D?