Taking place on October 25, 2008 in Rosemont Illinois, UFC 90 was a fight card that was mangled by replacements and a champion debating his competitors and looking ahead to a possible end of his career.
The originally pitched main event was a rematch between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami. An injury suffered by Okami, something that has plagued the grappler the past year(+), opened the door for Canuk slugger Patrick Cote. Not exactly the fans first choice but, then again, the list of contenders was pretty thin because Silva had run through everyone put in front of him since his UFC debut. So, the fact that Silva in the months prior to the bout had voiced talk of retirement shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, especially considering before that he had spoken of wanting more challenges, less time between fights, and the allowance to box someone like Roy Jones Jr.
The main event ended up being a fizzler from both men. Knowing Cote's main weapon is a big right hand, Silva decided to play it cautious and loose, toying, looking to counter, offense was secondary to movement and looking to capitalize on Cote's aggression. Problem is, Cote has much the same idea, so you have two men not offering much offense at all. And then, early into the third round, fight fans already listless because Silva's previous bouts had primed them for destruction, were treated to the unfortunate end via Cote taking one wrong step and tweeking his knee which we would find out later was previously injured going into the fight.
The co-main event was originally scheduled as a welterweight fight between Diego Sanchez and rising contender Thiago Alves, but Sanchez sustained an injury in training and Josh Koscheck took the fight on a mere two weeks notice. Koscheck's mettle in taking such a fight was impressive but ultimately foolhardy as the imposing Alves takes the fight to him and picks him apart leading to an absolute thrashing for the last two rounds.
Rich Clementi versus Gray Maynard was a prelim bout that got vaulted onto the main card due to another matchup dissolving. Unfortunate because, though both are talents, stylistically it resulted in a very lackluster fight. The scrap is a near stalemate. Early on, the usual feeling out process on the feet where neither gets an advantage, then Maynard falls back on his wrestling and thus the pattern of the rest of the fight is established: Maynard taking Clementi down, offering control but not much damage, while Clementi increasingly desperately works for subs and sweeps that do not materialize.
Poor Fabricio Werdum. He was one of the UFC's top HW talents in an extremely thin division. He shows up a little heavier than usual and perhaps slightly too enamored with his improving stand up and runs into young striking powerhouse Junior Dos Santos, who lands one sneaky lead right uppercut that melts the Brazilian BJJ black belt.
The pay per view opener was a battle of lightweights, former champ Sean Sherk versus Tyson Griffin. Predictably, with the two having a solid wrestling base but a willingness to stand and trade punches and kicks, the fight turns into a striking battle. Both are also known for their stand up to deliver decisions over KO's, so the fight is decided by one man's volume and clean punches instead of damage and knockdown drama.
The prelims offered a decent mix of fights. Pete Sell-Josh Burkman was a nice matchup of perennial journeymen and delivers some grit. The Hermes Franca-Marcus Aurelio "grudge match" found the two BJJ aces engaging mainly in stand up, where Franca's unorthodox but dense-handed slugging and superior kicking consistently chops away at Aurelio. Dan Miller-Matt Horwich is a fun, active ground scrap which proved to be the most competitive match on the entire card. In Spencer Fisher-Shannon Gugerty and Thales Leites-Drew Mcfederies, both Fisher and Leites were facing replacement opponents (Fisher slated originally against Melvin Guillard, Leites versus Goran Reljic). While Gugerty is game, Fisher is a bit too seasoned for his opponent, while Leites simply so outclasses striker McFederies on the ground for an easy, quick win.
The DVD: First Look Studios.
Picture: No complaints with the anamorphic widescreen transfer. Acceptable in all areas for a sporting event. Good color, vibrant, with well-rounded fleshtones. Contrast levels are nice deep. Sharpness is well-rendered. Compression flaws appear minimal.
Sound: Two 2.0 stereo options include choices for either English or Spanish commentary. Again, the audio is fine for a sporting event. Nothing to really amaze, just solid mix with the commentators in the forefront and the usual live arena quirks. The event is also English Close-Captioned.
Extras: UFC has in recent years clearly embraced providing their DVD's with a nice round of extras. A second disc includes the following featurettes: Behind the Scenes (30:25), Countdown to UFC 90 (40:56), UFC.com interviews/fight recaps (52:47), and Weigh-Ins (15:10). Behind the Scenes offers a nice look at the backstage fighter prep and view from the corners, the Countdown show is fantastic, particularly in how it covers Silva's background, family and training, while the .com interviews give everyone, including those not on the televised broadcast, a chance to talk about their fights.
Conclusion: I will have to give this event a low B. The disappointing end to the main event and series of replacement fights really put a damper on what could have been a highly entertaining and more competative MMA card. Die-hards will purchase even the stinkers just to have a complete collection, but seeing how the extras are solid, the card is okay, and the price of these is usually kept on the cheap, I'll obviously lean towards a purchase for UFC 90.