I'm not a huge UFC guy. I enjoy getting together with friends to watch the pay-per-view shows occasionally. I've gone on record saying that the first Frank Mir-Brock Lesnar fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas is one of the five best sporting events I've ever been to live. Plus, BONUS, there is wagering on MMA and I have at least three friends (Lance Zierlein, Kyle Manthey, and Jeremy Botter of heavy.com) whose knowledge levels on UFC range from pretty good to freaky. Expert analysis plus internet access equals chicken dinner. Sometimes. My point is that I like and respect the UFC but I don't live and die for it.
Therefore, it comes as very little surprise that I did not carve out a sunny Saturday afternoon to watch UFC 112. In retrospect, I kind of wish I had just to see what all of the fuss was about. Most of it consisted of MMA purists skewering Anderson Silva for acting like a fool and disrespecting the sport in his title bout with Demian Maia, followed by UFC chief honcho Dana White expressing regret, embarrassment, and anger over Silva's antics after the fight was over, punctuated by the unprecedented move of White up and leaving in the middle of the fight out of disgust.
To listen to White after the card was over, you could tell that this was terrible for the sport, and in many ways, bad for business. For one thing, in an economy where many people's discretional pay-per-view dollars are spread over boxing, MMA, and professional wrestling, you can't have customers dropping fifty or sixty bucks on an event that doesn't pay off in the end, so to speak. Sure, you're going to have main events that disappoint because one guy overwhelms another, but to have a train wreck of a main event because one of the competitors is acting like a kindergartner is inexcusable. This, frankly, is an advantage pro wrestling has in that they script their shows so there can be a beginning, a middle, and a big finish. It doesn't always work for them either, but it is something they have control over.
Also, you could tell White had been looking forward to doing this event overseas in Abu Dhabi, and antics like Silva's can kill a market. I've held a UFC ticket in my hand before; seats that are so-so go for several hundred dollars face value. How inclined are people in that area going to be to spend money to see a UFC event live again?
Straight up, UFC can be an expensive sport to watch, unless you have a favorite bar that gets the pay-per-views (and even then if you go with Kyle Manthey you end up spending over a hundred dollars on shots and beers!). So in this economy, if you need an outlet to get your "fight on" and watch a couple people beat the piss out of each other...well, thank God for YouTube!! (No seriously, thank Him for it right now....I do every day!)
To that end, I've assembled my dream card of fights from the hit series The Sopranos complete with embedded video, so the next time that UFC puts on an event where the potential outcome smells like fifty, sixty or several hundred bucks wasted, you can just bookmark this link and roll through all fifteen -- that's right, FIFTEEN!! -- of these great bouts. Put it on the big screen, get some popcorn, create a playlist, and oh yeah...INVITE ME OVER!!!
Here we go... DING DING DING!!!
Season 4, Episode 10 - "The Strong, Silent Type"
PREVIEW: Every good wrestling card starts off with some sort of multi-performer match -- Money in the Bank Ladder Match, Battle Royal, Gauntlet Match -- so we start the card off with an opener where Chrissy needs to fight off five of his fellow mobsters when he gets high-handed during an intervention for his drug use.
EUGENE PONTECORVO vs LITTLE PAULIE
SNAPPLE TO THE HEAD MATCH
STIPULATIONS: Winner is the one who can crack a Snapple bottle over his opponent's head first
Season 5, Episode 9 - "Unidentifed Black Males"
PREVIEW: Every good supercard needs some bouts underneath about a couple people no one really cares about, if for no other reason than to give you an opening to take a leak or buy popcorn. This one is pretty entertaining.
CHRISSY vs YO YO MENDES
STREET CORNER MATCH
STIPULATIONS: Winner gets to keep drug take from street corner
Season 1, Episode 4 - "Meadowlands"
PREVIEW: Uncle Junior and Tony are feuding big time at this point in the show, including Junior trying to take over all of the drug action on the Newark street corners. Chrissy wants to take it back. Yo Yo Mendes gets the worst of it.
PAULIE WALNUTS vs FEECH LaMANNA'S NEPHEW
PULL DUDE OUT OF TREE MATCH
STIPULATIONS: Winner is first one to pull his opponent out of a tree and steal his lawn mower
Season 5, Episode 3 - "Where's Johnny?"
PREVIEW: As you'll see with many of these fights, the issue is either somebody insulting someone else or someone moving on another dude's turf. This is the latter. Feech LaManna takes over the landscaping business on one side of town, Paulie goes to bat for the guy whose turf it used to be by pulling dudes out of fifty-foot high trees. Welcome to North Jersey!
JOHNNY SACK vs DONNY K
STIPULATIONS: Winner gets to piss on the loser's head
Season 4, Episode 4 - "The Weight"
PREVIEW: This match was set up by a joke Ralph Cifaretto made about Ginny Sack (wife of then New York underboss, Johnny Sack) and a 95-pound mole being removed from her ass. Donny K (a Ralphie soldier) made the mistake of laughing near Johnny Sack in a bar during a conversation that didn't involve Johnny a couple weeks after the joke. So naturally, Johnny wants to beat the piss out of him...and then piss on him....
ARTIE BUCCO vs FRENCH DUDE
STIPULATIONS: First one to forcibly remove earring from the other guy's ear wins
Season 4, Episode 6 - "Everybody Hurts"
PREVIEW: This French dude needed money to start up distribution in America for a certain brand of vodka. Naturally, wanna-be entrepreneur Artie Bucco thought it would be a good idea to lend him the money and back the investment with a side loan from Tony Soprano. What could possibly go wrong? Artie trying to collect from the French dude, that's what.
ARTIE BUCCO vs BENNY FAZIO
FRONT PORCH AFTER MIDNIGHT MATCH
Season 6, Episode 7 - "Luxury Lounge"
PREVIEW: Artie must have been taking fighting classes while he was separated from Charmaine in Season 5 because somewhere along the way he went from getting beaten up by a French dude to first-round TKO of Benny Fazio on Benny's front porch. The difference between Artie in this fight and the previous one is a Lesnar-like leap from Lesnar-Mir I to Lesnar-Mir II.
TONY SOPRANO vs COCO THE IDIOTIC PERVERT
TOOTH ON THE CURB MATCH
STIPULATIONS: Winner is the first one to knock all the other guy's teeth out by smashing his open mouth on a curb
Season 6, Episode 19 - "The Second Coming"
PREVIEW: Coco is a buffoonish soldier in the Leotardo Family; one night he sees Meadow Soprano, Tony's daughter, at a coffee shop/tavern and decides to make lewd remarks to her, including implying that he would leave a little care package on her face. Tony finds out and...well, let's just say the big winner is Coco's dentist.
TONY SOPRANO vs ASSEMBLYMAN ZELLMAN
STIPULATIONS: Winner is the one who turns his opponent into a blubbering idiot by whipping him with a belt
Season 4, Episode 7 - "Watching Too Much Television"
PREVIEW: Four things you don't mess with -- Tony's family, Tony's pets, Tony's bank account, and Tony's old girlfriends. Assemblyman Zellman made this mistake, and found out that no amount of political clout can overcome a mafia penis scorned.
TONY SOPRANO vs MUSCLES MARINARA
"REMEMBER, I'M THE BOSS" MATCH
STIPULATIONS: Tony wins no matter what
Season 6, Episode 5 - "Mr. and Mrs. John Sacramoni Request..."
PREVIEW: Tony gets out of the hospital after being nearly killed by a gunshot wound from Uncle Junior, and notices his family is getting a bit soft. No one is making collections, everyone's feeling a little too comfortable. Tony decides to remind them whose world it is by picking the baddest man in the room to make an example of. Successfully.
TONY SOPRANO vs MIKEY PALMICE
STIPULATIONS: Winner is the first one to staple a traffic ticket to his opponent's chest
Season 1, Episode 4 - "Meadowlands"
PREVIEW: Mikey Palmice was always a pain in the ass. As Uncle Junior's right-hand man, he always kind of rubbed Tony the wrong way. It didn't help that he decided to rough up Chrissy, Tony's pet project. In this bout, Tony uses a stapler to express his true feelings for Mikey.
TONY SOPRANO vs PHIL LEOTARDO
BUS CRASH MATCH
STIPULATIONS: First guy to make his opponent crash into the back of a bus gets to beat the shit out of him inside his wrecked car
Season 5, Episode 7 - "In Camelot"
PREVIEW: Like I said before, don't mess with Tony's bank account. Phil tried to do this, shirking about 40 grand that he owed Tony. The moral of the story -- if you're going to screw over Tony Soprano, stay in the left lane....
TONY SOPRANO/CHRISSY MOLTISANTI vs MAHAFFEY
STIPULATIONS: Once Tony and Chrissy are done with Mahaffey, he can park in handicapped parking
Season 1, Episode 1 - "Pilot"
PREVIEW: This is where we first got a sniff of the collective prowess of Tony and Chrissy. First ten minutes of the pilot episode, dude owes them money....BAM! Broken leg. All downhill from there!
TONY SOPRANO vs BOBBY BACALA
STIPULATIONS: First guy to get a Monopoly hotel to stick to his opponent's bloody face is the winner
Season 6, Episode 13 - "Soprano Home Movies"
PREVIEW: Ironically, the one member of Tony's family who you can make fun of for hours and he could give a shit is his sister, Janice. In fact, Tony likes to make fun of her as much as everyone else! This doesn't sit well with her husband, Soprano soldier Bobby Baccalieri. Tony gets a little out of hand during a drunk game of Monopoly and an epic bout ensues.
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TONY SOPRANO vs RALPHIE CIFFARETTO
JERSEY DEATH MATCH
STIPULATIONS: Winner is the one who kills his opponent via blunt force trauma
Season 4, Episode 9 - "Whoever Did This"
PREVIEW: For a gangster who needs to be cold-hearted virtually every hour of every day, Tony sure has a soft spot for animals. I think if a horse or dog or, God forbid, a duck (oh those ducks!!) had to borrow money from Tony, he would actually only tack on 15 points vig instead of the usual 25. Tony wasn't a card-carrying member of PETA (that we know of), but if you burned his horse alive he was going to take exception to that -- and by "take exception" I mean "brutally murder."
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.