UFC's ongoing Ultimate Knockouts series exercises truth in advertising, make no mistake about it. Each of these 90-odd minute collections includes more than two dozen fights from the UFC vault---and even though some of them barely crack the 30-second mark, almost all of them are worthy inclusions into this "KO Hall of Fame". Featuring some of the world's toughest athletes and a wide range of martial arts disciplines, these wildly unpredictable brawls can switch gears in the blink of an eye. As expected, all of the fights featured in Ultimate Knockouts 8 continue the tradition of "no submissions or decisions"; it's knockouts only, for better or for worse. Being relatively new to the world of MMA in general, many of the featured athletes are new to me...but in more ways than one, these fast-paced collections are enjoyable regardless of your experience level.
For those tempted to call Ultimate Knockouts 8 a "highlight reel"...well, it's not quite that style of presentation. But it's not a complete collection of matches, either. Some of these brawls are presented in their entirety, while others apparently drop us right near the end. More often than not, this just keeps the momentum going...so it's not necessarily a drawback. Where Ultimate Knockouts 8 flounders a bit, though, is the uneven pace at which it moves. It's not really "hosted" and little to no context is given before the matches begin. Since fighter introductions also haven't been included, less seasoned viewers may not feel quite as involved at times. For those who know all the fighters' names and stats by heart, though, this collection certainly delivers on its promises: it's full of action and rarely loses steam. For those keeping score at home, here's the card:
Complete Match Listing
(31 matches on one single-sided disc)
Chuck Liddell Vs. Shogun Rua
Krzysztof Soszynski Vs. Andre Gusmao
Drew McFedries Vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam
Rashad Evans Vs. Lyoto Machida
Mike Ciesnolevicz Vs. Tomasz Drwal
Brock Lesnar Vs. Frank Mir
Anderson Silva Vs. Forrest Griffin
Tim Hague Vs. Todd Duffee
Nate Marquardt Vs. Demian Maia
Keith Jardine Vs. Thiago Silva
Tyson Griffin Vs. Hermes Franca
Josh Koscheck Vs. Frank Trigg
Rich Franklin Vs. Vitor Belfort
Antoni Hardonk Vs. Pat Barry
Anthony Johnson Vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jared Hamman
Marcus Davis Vs. Ben Saunders
Luiz Cane Vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Mike Pyle Vs. Jake Ellenberger
Junior Dos Santos Vs. Gilbert Yvel
John Howard Vs. Dennis Hallman
Marcus Jones Vs. Matt Mitrione
Roy Nelson Vs. Brendan Schaub
Matt Serra Vs. Frank Trigg
Brendan Schaub Vs. Chase Gormley
John Howard Vs. Daniel Roberts
Junior Dos Santos Vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Minotauro Nogueira Vs. Cain Velasquez
Keith Jardine Vs. Ryan Bader
Frank Mir Vs. Shane Carwin
Lyoto Machida Vs. Shogun Rua
At just over 90 minutes in length, Ultimate Knockouts 8 is just fine for casual viewing and pre-PPV gatherings, but it's probably easier to digest over the course of two or three viewing sessions. On the technical side of things, Anchor Bay's Blu-Ray release delivers a top-shelf visual presentation...and though the audio and bonus features are a little lacking, there's enough here to recommend Ultimate Knockouts 8 as a rental at the very least. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, perhaps the only drawback to this video presentation is that it's 1080i and not progressive. With that said, Ultimate Knockouts 8 still looks excellent: colors and black levels are extremely crisp, while digital eyesores like edge enhancement, combing and compression artifacts are kept to a strict minimum. A few brief shots are a little less crisp, but this seems to be a source material issue and nothing more. Those who saw the original matches in high definition should appreciate the quality control on display here...and most everyone else should be pleasantly surprised with the visual upgrade. Pardon the horrible pun, but this Blu-Ray is a total knockout.
The audio, on the other hand, is less than impressive. Presented in a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix, it's a much more subdued and distant presentation than it ought to be....but to be fair, all other volumes of Ultimate Knockouts feature the same presentation. With that said, this type of content would definitely benefit from a more aggressive mix, especially due to the strong crowd presence. It's not a deal-breaker, but I bet you'll be wishing for more. Not surprisingly, optional Closed Captions and subtitles are not offered.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
The plain-wrap menu designs are simple and easy to use. This 93-minute collection has been divided into 31 chapters (one per match) and no layer change was detected during playback. This one-disc release is locked for Region "A" players only and is packaged in a standard-width Blu-Ray case. A promotional insert is tucked inside, but it doesn't include a match listing.
Aside from a handful of promos, the only extra here is a short highlight reel called "Total TKOs" (7 minutes, 1.78:1 HD), featuring more brutal knockouts. The lack of more substantial bonus features is understandable given the nature of this release, but it's a shame that some of the fighters couldn't have participated in a few interviews or audio commentaries.
UFC's fan base is growing by leaps and bounds, and it's no surprise that a release like Ultimate Knockouts 8 should please the large majority of them. Although this quasi-highlight reel could definitely use a little polish around the edges, it still delivers on its promises: there's plenty of action and it rarely lets up. The Blu-Ray presentation by Anchor Bay offers a nice upgrade in the visual department...but aside from that, there's very little that separates it from the DVD release. It's possibly worth a buy for UFC completists, but most interested parties should have no problem getting their fill over a weekend. Rent It.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, second-guessing himself and writing things in third person.
REVIEWER'S NOTE: The above images are promotional and do not reflect this release's native 1920x1080 resolution.