Zuhosky’s Take #1: Make Noche UFC an Annual Card

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Throughout the year, MMA’s top promotion, the UFC, travels around the world to put on quality shows. This past Saturday was no exception to the rule.

On the night of September 16th, however, there was a bit of a different tenor to the show. While this past Saturday’s card was another UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas (and for those of you in the audience keeping score at home, the city of Las Vegas has now played host to 220 UFC events with this show), the T-Mobile Arena held Noche UFC in commemoration of Mexican Independence Day.

That holiday and combat sports seemingly go together like cereal and milk. For a time, Mexican Independence Day meant that world-class boxing would take place. Canelo Alvarez would enter the ring for a pay-per-view main event. While he missed the holiday itself this year, he’ll fight Jermell Charlo in two weeks at T-Mobile Arena.

Noche UFC A Great Show

For a show that was nota pay-per-view, Noche UFC was an amazing night, even if the main card did have to go up against that thrilling Pac-12 After Dark game between Colorado State and Colorado in Boulder. That is part and parcel of having to put on events year-round as a combat sports promotion.

You go up against any number of games and matches from other promotions and leagues throughout the year and have to try to grab the headlines away from the marquee game. Titan FC was on the other side of this dilemma almost two months ago.

That night, while Titan FC 83 was transpiring in Ft. Lauderdale, a card now-famous for a viral one-second knockout from Luis Hernandez thanks to a head kick, the Beautiful Game of soccer (football) took center stage at DRV PNK Stadium. Lionel Messi made his Inter Miami CF debut against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup.

Messi being Messi, he scored the game-winning free kick goal as the match neared its end.

Given the competition that the UFC, as well as other MMA promotions around the country and across the world, have to face off against, it’s a battle every weekend, not counting the fights that take place in the cage. Despite this, the UFC manages to thrive.

The Fans Brought the Energy

One aspect that the UFC has going for it during every arena-based show is the encouragement that the supporters give the fighters. Although some crowds get too rowdy and attending the event can become an exercise in vulgarity, the fans packed T-Mobile Arena.

If you have time, go back and watch the show again. The crowd was in full throat throughout the night.

In watching some of the audience shots during Noche UFC, Saturday’s assembled gathering was the best the UFC has had since the first live show with a full audience post-pandemic, UFC 261 from Jacksonville two years ago. That night, the fans were noisy right from the opening prelim.

Having an energetic audience in the arena is vital for the competitors in the cage to feed off of, that much is certain. What is also important is for that energy to come through the screen while fight fans watch the fights all around the world.

(Mostly) A Good Night of Fights, Too

As far as the event itself, Saturday was a great night at T-Mobile Arena. By and large, Noche UFC was relatively devoid of controversial moments.

This was not the case, however, for two of the fights. During the undercard, referee Chris Tognoni was tasked with presiding over an Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda fight.

Late in the first round, Chairez hunted for a submission via standing guillotine. Despite never formally tapping out, Tognoni saw what he thought was Lacerda losing consciousness and called off the bout.

Upon checking the replay of the telecast footage, this win was correctly overturned to a no-contest, leading to Chairez preparing to appeal the result. Whether or not this appeal is successful remains to be seen, but it looks as though a rematch is in order. It’s only right for the fighters involved and for the fans who voiced their displeasure online.

Grasso/ Shevchenko III Coming Soon?

For that matter, the Noche UFC main event could get rerun in the future. Your headliner this past Saturday night saw a rematch for the promotion’s flyweight championship between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko.

After 25 minutes, the scorecards returned a split draw, ruffling some feathers. During the fifth round of action, judge Mike Bell scored the period 10-8 in favor of the champion, making the contest a deadlock and allowing Grasso to retain her belt by the champion’s advantage.

During the post-fight media scrum, Shevchenko pondered what happened with that scorecard.

“I think I did everything I could to secure the victory,” the challenger began, “and unfortunately, I think because this event is [held on] Mexican Independence Day, that’s why it affected the decision of the judge to give the 10-8 in the fifth round. From my experience, 10-8 is when one fighter completely cannot do anything.”

Given this controversy, much like the Chairez vs. Lacerda fight, the Grasso vs. Shevchenko series could very well get a trilogy fight at some point. This is a tainted result, and if a third contest comes to fruition, Shevchenko is going to be most aggressive during her training camp.

Make Noche UFC a Yearly Tradition

Regardless of the two unfortunate baubles this past Saturday, Noche UFC was a banner affair for Dana White’s promotion. When White and his people sit down in about nine months, they’re going to look back at this night.

“Hey, Noche UFC served us well last year,” they will say. “Why don’t we go back to Las Vegas on Mexican Independence Day and do it again?”

They should do it again. In the theater parlance, Saturday’s event was the audition for the role in the big play. T-Mobile Arena and the UFC passed the audition, and now, they are part of the cast.

Final Thoughts

Last Saturday’s card was a great evening for the UFC and its fans. The MMA giant would be best-served to make this a yearly tradition from this point on.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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