UFC: Best of 2009 is a Spike tv special. The basic cable network has a long-running deal with the mixed martial arts promotional giant, showing free fight cards, dubbed Ultimate Fight Night, nearly every month and the reality show The Ultimate Fighter. Also, to kill some airtime, they round up specials like this.
How the fights are chosen is anyone's guess. They throw in the big names, of course, so champions and top draws make the grade. Quick, brutal KO's are always well-represented. The other remaining category seems to be slobberknocker fights where technique is thrown out the window in favor of three rounds of caveman slinging.
The format actually does a decent job of overview, going over all of the champions, how their year played out, how the title holders maintained their dominance or were defeated. Top contenders in every division are also showcased, setting the stage for names that are gaining buzz. Of course, this means that the disc is more a promotional time-capsule than anything else. While relevant when it was broadcast at
the end of the year, questions raised by the special have already been answered, like lightweight contender Frankie Edgar getting a shot at BJ Penn, or Mauricio "Shogun" Rua rematch defeating light-heavyweight champ heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida.
Spread over two discs, the special plays as follows:
Disc one begins with a glad-handing intro of various division champs and how hunky dory and great the UFC did in 2009. Yes, one expects nothing less and the frosted-tipped haired, middle-aged, shill tones of mouthpiece Mike Goldberg does this well. First up, welterweights are highlighted, including champion Georges St.-Pierre, various contenders, but the actual full fights shown are relegated to Hughes Vs. Serra and Condit-Ellenberger.
Then onto the light-heavyweights and fights for Marquardt Vs. Maia, Franklin-Belfort, Quarry-Credeur, Silva-Griffin, Evans-Machida, Liddell-Rua, highlights from the controversial Machida-Rua title match, a bit with Chuck Liddell getting inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, Ortiz-Griffin 2 highlights, Jardine-Silva, a brief nod to the debut of Little Nog, and, finally, a highlight of up and comer Jon "Bones" Jones.
The shorter disc two opens with discussion of The Ultimate Fighter season nine. Then things move on to lightweights and key contenders like Tyson Griffin, Gray Maynard, and Terry Etim, then the full Sanchez-Guida fight, and highlights for division champ BJ Penn.
Things end with a recap of The Ultimate Fighter season ten and heavyweight contenders like Shane Carwin, Junior Dos Santos, and Cain Velazquez, and finishes with replays of the Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira Vs. Randy Couture and Brock Lesner Vs. Frank Mir 2 fights.
The DVD: Anchor Bay
It's a special for the masses. Basic cable. Grab the channel-flippers. As such, it gets a basic fullscreen treatment. Decent, nothing special, but all the blood, sweat, and, well, more blood and sweat is well-rendered, solid color and contrast. No annoying quibbles, just remember it is a slightly dulled down affair compared to the UFC's pay per view broadcasts which were fairly early in jumping onto the widescreen and HiDef bandwagon.
A basic 2.0 Stereo track finds commentary jawers Make Goldberg and Joe Rogan in the forefront, action like kicks,punches, and cornermen's instructions spilling across the sides, while gratuitous macho numetal tracks fill in the audio blanks during transitions.
Disc one has three full length bonus fights: St.-Pierre Vs. Penn, Swick Vs. Hardy, and Jones Vs. Bonnar.
Disc Two has a Behind The Scenes segment (20:03) the usual backstage stuff, compiled from other event segments, and five additional fights: Griffin Vs. Franca, Diaz Vs. Guillard, Sherk Vs. Edgar, Stevenson Vs. Diaz, and Penn Vs. Florian.
Lets face it, this special is just a way for the UFC to promote themselves, bolster their deal with Spike, and throw something on when rival organizations have a fight card on tv. Also, one man's great fight is another man's technical snoozefest or caveman scramble. Is Quarry-Credeur a great example of honed standup striking? No, but both men sure to put defense away and turn each others face into hamburger. Will every person who enjoyed Quarry-Credeur's brains-be-damned scrapping appreciate the controlled and measured grappling exhibition of Penn-St.-Pierre? Maybe not.
For hardcore fans looking for a complete MMA collection, this might be an okay time capsule, plus they may want those elusive Ultimate Fight Night Spike fights (which most people either DVR or download off the internet). But, for your average viewer, this special just presents a dated time-capsule and a majority of fights that they can get from the actual event DVD's, so this one is purely a rental.