Luke Thomas on UFC 189: “That is the kind of event that will give you memories for life”

0032 luke thomas

“This was the promoters and the fighters doing everything possible to execute on fight night.”

(Photo: Youtube video “Luke Thomas Is Pissed”)

Luke Thomas is the senior editor at MMAFighting.com. He hosts a weekly podcast called the Promotional Malpractice live chat and also gives technical breakdowns of recent fight cards through a segment called MMA – Monday Morning Analyst.

UFC 189 not only gave us exciting fights, it also gave us an updated look with new graphics, Reebok-sponsored apparel, and live music for the interim featherweight title main event. Irish artist Sinead O’Connor sang “Foggy Dew” as UFC promotional powerhouse Conor McGregor made his walk to the cage, and Aaron Lewis of Staind sang “Country Boy” for top featherweight contender Chad Mendes.

In the Monday Morning Analyst show immediately following UFC 189, Luke Thomas gave his thoughts on the entire spectacle:

I truly do not know how much better MMA can get. I don’t want to limit my imagination and say it can’t get better, but that’s pretty much as good as it gets, right? Not just because the finishes were brutal, and in that sense, entertainment, but the stakes were high.

You saw the devastating power of what elite MMA looks like. There was clarity about the finishes. The guys who won, basically deserved to win. There were important match-ups, and you saw a variety of weight classes.

It wasn’t the perfect event. I don’t know what event ever would be perfect. But I truly, when watching this, I just don’t know how much better MMA gets. And when you think of it in those terms, it’s just so special. It’s just so utterly and completely without parallel.

I’m a pretty big critic of the UFC. I think a lot of MMA media is just cheerleading nonsense, because a lot of the MMA media are fans. I am too, I suppose, but someone’s gotta be out there pointing out some of the flaws, right? Someone’s gotta do it, so I’ll do it.

The UFC just took another turn. They stepped up in ways that are hard to articulate here. When you have a big fight, and you have a big moment, the promotion has to also do their part, both to get out in front and lead you to them, and then also get out of the way. It’s a very complicated task that they have, and I thought that they, on Saturday, completely and totally nailed it.

They debuted the new graphics packages. And I don’t like the Reebok kits for any number of reasons: aesthetically, and what they do to the fighter’s income. But certainly it was part of a larger rollout of modernization. I think you can at least acknowledge that.

I think what we all grew accustomed to was, everything had kind of been monotonously stale. When you watch MMA, what you want from a promoter is to innovate, is to update, is to give you a new twist and a new wrinkle. And that’s a very, very difficult task, and you have to have some managed expectations over time about what’s possible. But from the light show, to the intros, it just changed the color palette of the inside of the arena. You got different visuals to stimulate your eye, different ways to engage your brain. With Sinead O’Connor, with the minimalistic music. Same with the guy from Staind, Aaron Lewis. It was all these different ways to treat the consumer that the UFC hadn’t done before, there wasn’t any heavy dubstep and metal and then the same old walkout. They changed it, and then elevated it at the exact same time.

It was brilliant! It was totally, completely brilliant. It was the UFC that I had been waiting for since Brock Lesnar left. I had long thought the UFC needed some modernization, and I understand that is not a very easy thing to do. But it’s a thing that has to get done, there always has to be envelope-pushing.

When you have 50 events a year, and they all kind of look and feel the same, it gets old, man! It gets super old.

I know they can’t do that every time, or hardly at all, ’cause as Dana White explained at the post-fight presser, very expensive. Okay, cool, I get it. But I am so glad they at least attempted it. And it wasn’t just the event. They tried harder with the weigh-ins. They tried harder with (UFC 189 Youtube promotional show) Embedded. They did the promotional tour. And (Jose) Aldo fell out, but they had Mendes on the ready. Every element of it must have been a complete and total chore to execute, and yet they went out and did it. That is what I am talking about.

And they got lucky with the fights. They can only do so much. They can set the card up, they can promote it, they can have Sinead O’Connor sing “Foggy Dew”, and they can have Conor walk in there. And after that, it’s just out of their hands. But in terms of UFC putting their best foot forward, did they ever. That is how it is supposed to feel.

When the fight week begins, you should feel like you’re sick of it, like you can’t wait for it to happen, and yet giddy at the same time. It should be all this conflation of different emotions, of anticipation, of fatigue. That is what effective fight promotion feels like, and that is what you got.

That is the kind of event that will give you memories for life. You will go to your deathbed with UFC 189 and what you were doing, especially if you were there, for the rest of your life. If you are a true fight fan, that is what’s going to happen with UFC 189, no doubt about it. Zero question in my mind.

This was the promoters and the fighters doing everything possible to execute on fight night, to give the consumers their total value for their dollar.

So for all the people who say I’m just a total critic, and I’m a cynic, and I say nothing but negative things, a lot of times you’re right. But it’s because I’m looking for THAT. ‘Cause I know the UFC can do it. They proved they can do it. They proved they can not just do it, they proved they can do it WELL. They can do it EXTREMELY well.

You can follow Luke Thomas through facebook.com/luketsports and @SBNLukeThomas. You can watch his Promotional Malpractice and Monday Morning Analyst videos at https://www.youtube.com/MMAFightingonSBN/videos or download them in audio form at https://soundcloud.com/thelukethomas.

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